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Driving to Lee’s Hawaiian Islander for the first time earlier this year for a friend’s birthday celebration, I admit I was skeptical. I knew nothing about the restaurant, other than that one of our group had grown up in Bergen County and frequented Lee’s decades ago.After a few wrong turns, we pulled into the parking lot on a dark, run-down commercial street in Lyndhurst. Inside, the kitschy decor looked unchanged from its opening more than a half-century ago, in 1972, with glowing Tiki masks, a rock waterfall wall, ...
Driving to Lee’s Hawaiian Islander for the first time earlier this year for a friend’s birthday celebration, I admit I was skeptical. I knew nothing about the restaurant, other than that one of our group had grown up in Bergen County and frequented Lee’s decades ago.
After a few wrong turns, we pulled into the parking lot on a dark, run-down commercial street in Lyndhurst. Inside, the kitschy decor looked unchanged from its opening more than a half-century ago, in 1972, with glowing Tiki masks, a rock waterfall wall, tree branches with fake birds, plastic flowers on the tables and white Christmas lights everywhere.
It took only one drink—I can’t remember if it was a Mai Tai or a Zombie, served in a Tiki mug with an umbrella, of course—to convert my skepticism into something like joy. By the time the requisite Pu Pu platter arrived, a few of our group of ten had grabbed microphones and were belting out “It’s Raining Men” alongside Bill, our spry, white-haired karaoke DJ, who sported a spangly “That Guy” hat and a black sequin-studded jacket.
Increasingly raucous renditions of “Thriller,” “Single Ladies” and golden oldies like “LeRoy Brown” and “Band of Gold” followed. Even the shyest among us hammed it up at the mike, and other patrons took turns, too; before long we were all on our feet, mingling and dancing. One couple invited us to their monthly karaoke night in Newark; a middle-aged business man circulated among us, handing out his business card and asking for dances.
We went home laughing and woke the next morning giggling, as photos and videos of our escapades pinged from phone to phone.
When I heard recently that Lee’s Hawaiian is for sale (for $2.3 million), I wasn’t too surprised. It was less than a third full the Friday night we were there, the food is mediocre, the drinks are so strong that you only need one, and it isn’t exactly on anybody’s list of hot new restaurants.
But I sure hope it doesn’t sell soon, and was glad to learn from an employee that they plan to stay open until they have a buyer. There are hundreds of places in New Jersey where you can get a better meal in a modern, gleaming restaurant. There’s only one I know of where you can sing and dance with new and old friends and time-travel back to a simpler, happier time.
2-minute readLYNDHURST — Late on Saturday night, faced with a possible municipal code violation fine, a couple asked their Facebook community for help. At about 11 p.m., just 10 minutes later, they got it from Joaquim "Jack" Matias.Robert and Mary Ann Bonomo had received a notice that an overgrown tree on their property violated township code and they needed to trim it or face fines. The notice said they were in violation because "landscaping must not be overgrown and unsightly," Mary ...
LYNDHURST — Late on Saturday night, faced with a possible municipal code violation fine, a couple asked their Facebook community for help. At about 11 p.m., just 10 minutes later, they got it from Joaquim "Jack" Matias.
Robert and Mary Ann Bonomo had received a notice that an overgrown tree on their property violated township code and they needed to trim it or face fines. The notice said they were in violation because "landscaping must not be overgrown and unsightly," Mary Ann said Monday.
She said that even though her husband has medical issues and has been disabled for a decade, the lawn is always cut and neat. She said the tree in question was in need of a trim, but it was not unsightly. She attributes the fine notice to an overzealous municipal code enforcer.
The couple, using Robert's Facebook page, posted a message for help on the Positively Lyndhurst page.
"I have lived in Lyndhurst for over 30 years and have never had any issues or problems," the Bonomos' post reads. "I have taken great care of my home and have been happy living here. Unfortunately, in the last 10+ years, I have become permanently disabled and unable to take care of many things around the house myself."
The couple then explained that their "finances are an issue, as medical bills are exorbitant," and asked if anyone in town or close by might be able to help trim the tree for a "nominal fee." They wrote that help would be "greatly appreciated."
Matias responded that he would help.
"Good evening Robert. My name is Jack and I am the owner of J. Matias Landscaping from Lyndhurst. I would love to come out and help you out. Please message me."
The next day, on Sunday, Matias went to the Bonomo home on Page Avenue and, after assessing the situation, told them he would trim their tree — a $600 job — for free.
"Jack was real genuine and not looking for anything in return," Mary Ann said.
On Monday, after completing their regular jobs, Matias and two of his employees completed the pruning.
"Jack was amazing, just amazing, to go so out of his way and above and beyond," Mary Ann said. "They came and worked hard until it was done," she said, adding that she offered to give Matias some money, but he refused it. "He's just the nicest guy," she said.
Matias, the father of two young girls, said "being generous is important." Some day, the 36-year-old said, "we will be old ... I go to church with the family every weekend. This is how I was raised."
Matias said he covered the labor for his workers. He said he told his "guys, let's do it out of the goodness of our hearts," and added, "It's not like it's going to break my bank."
His good deed did not go unnoticed. The post garnered hundreds of responses, many from other individuals who also offered to help, but most from those who wanted to praise the good deed and the many responses to the couple's original message.
"Wow…Just looking at all the people offering assistance is heartwarming. It makes me proud to be living in Lyndhurst," wrote Salvatore DeCarlo.
Roberta Flynn was also touched by the response. "That is so nice. There are people in Lyndhurst that care. God Bless All of you who help this couple. God will repay you."
Mary Ann, who works in the mental health field and takes care of the home and her husband, said the responses from the community, and especially the one from Matias, turned a very stressful situation into one that brought love and gratitude.
The town's ordinance on landscaping reads that "premises shall be kept landscaped and lawns, hedges, bushes shall be kept trimmed and from becoming overgrown and unsightly."
Matias said the tree was somewhat overgrown and the cuttings filled his truck.
The Bonomos reached out to town and elected officials, but they received responses only from Commissioners John Montillo and Louis DeMarco. Montillo helped the couple get an extension to give them more time to find help. Montillo and DeMarco did not respond to emails from NorthJersey.com asking for more information.
The mayor's office referred inquiries to the municipal property maintenance department, which did not immediately respond.
A Lyndhurst staffing agency will be forced to pay back wages and liquidated damages for almost 300 employees after the U.S. Department of Labor found that it did not provide overtime hours.Advantix Logistics Corp. and its owner, Michael Mortorano will be required to pay 289 warehouse employees $910,000 in back wages and liquidated damages, according to a statement from the New Jersey Department of Labor.The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ordered Advantix Logistics and Mortorano to pay "$4...
A Lyndhurst staffing agency will be forced to pay back wages and liquidated damages for almost 300 employees after the U.S. Department of Labor found that it did not provide overtime hours.
Advantix Logistics Corp. and its owner, Michael Mortorano will be required to pay 289 warehouse employees $910,000 in back wages and liquidated damages, according to a statement from the New Jersey Department of Labor.
The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey ordered Advantix Logistics and Mortorano to pay "$455,000 in back wages and an equal amount in liquidated damages."
The investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found that Mortorano violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not keeping accurate employee hour records, in addition to failing to pay overtime. The employees of the agency spent up to 70 hours loading and unloading freight from containers and pallets at warehouses.
"Employers must pay employees all of their rightfully earned wages or face costly consequences when they don’t," said Paula Ruffin, the director of the Wage and Hour Division's North Jersey district office. "We encourage employers to contact us with questions or concerns about their pay practices."
Mortorano could not immediately be reached for comment.
Jeffrey Rogoff, a Labor Department regional solicitor in New York, said the judgment against Advantix Logistics shows companies that they can and will be held accountable when they don't pay workers fairly.
"The U.S. Department of Labor is prepared to use every tool available, including litigation, to prevent employers from violating workers’ rights," Rogoff said.
This is not the first time Advantix has had to pay an employee damages. In November 2022, the staffing agency was ordered to pay $65,000 in damages to a separate employee who was fired after they complained about not being paid for all of their hours.
Just days after a car crash that left a Lyndhurst father and young son dead, the community has stepped up to help out the grieving family.Robert Csapo, 46, and his son John, 6, died Sunday morning on the way back from a Boy Scouts camping trip when their minivan crashed into a light pole on Route 80 in Wayne. Csapo...
Just days after a car crash that left a Lyndhurst father and young son dead, the community has stepped up to help out the grieving family.
Robert Csapo, 46, and his son John, 6, died Sunday morning on the way back from a Boy Scouts camping trip when their minivan crashed into a light pole on Route 80 in Wayne. Csapo's other two sons were also in the car but did not suffer life-threatening injuries. Police have not said what caused the single-car crash.
In the midst of tragedy, two parents from John's school teamed up to organize a Meal Train for Csapo's surviving family, including his wife, Erica.
In just two days, the fundraiser, which also allows people to donate meals, has raised over $46,000, which has thrilled organizers Katie Raggi and Melissa Mitchell.
"We've just been going back-and-forth texting each other like 'Wow, we need to up the goal,'" Mitchell said. "This is overwhelming and it's the least we can do to help this family."
In the immediate aftermath of the crash, Raggi and Mitchell, whose kids attend Columbus Elementary School with the Csapos, got together to organize a Meal Train, and the donations immediately started pouring in.
"By Monday morning it took off more then we could've expected," Raggi said. "Lyndhurst is a tight-knit community to begin with ... You don't have to know somebody, that's just what Lyndhurst is about, it's about community and helping."
Raggi's family is close with the Csapos, having met when their kids started kindergarten together in 2019. The kids became best friends, spending time with each other every day after school.
Robert was a "quintessential family man," Raggi said, and was someone who wouldn't hesitate to pick up one of her kids from school if she had somewhere to be. He would attend any Little League game or camping trip he could when he was not traveling for work.
"He loved those boys," Raggi said.
According to Raggi, John was a huge fan of "Ghostbusters" and always wore a "Ghostbusters" hat that he refused to take off, even on camping trips.
In a text message, Columbus Elementary School principal Robert Giangeruso said the district will help the Csapo family in "any way they need."
The Meal Train page is seeking donations for boys clothes, sizes 6 and 10. It is also seeking businesses that would offer services, including barbers, salons and housekeeping.
Before Tuesday afternoon’s game, Lyndhurst head coach Perrin Mosca decided to move Anthony Pizzuti from the back to the front of the team’s press on defense in hopes of getting his star forward some more easy baskets off of turnovers.The result was one no one could have envisioned.Pizzuti got those easy buckets early and from there, never stopped as he ended up scoring a school record 53 points, powering Lyndhurst to an 88-49 victory over Kearny in Lyndhurst.The record was previously held by John Rodriguez, w...
Before Tuesday afternoon’s game, Lyndhurst head coach Perrin Mosca decided to move Anthony Pizzuti from the back to the front of the team’s press on defense in hopes of getting his star forward some more easy baskets off of turnovers.
The result was one no one could have envisioned.
Pizzuti got those easy buckets early and from there, never stopped as he ended up scoring a school record 53 points, powering Lyndhurst to an 88-49 victory over Kearny in Lyndhurst.
The record was previously held by John Rodriguez, who scored 51 points in a game in 2018.
Pizzuti also had 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks in the win. His previous career-high for points was 31, which came in a Jan. 13 win against Hawthorne.
“I think it forced him to be more active in the press.,” Mosca said. “Usually he’s in the back and doesn’t get as many opportunities to get shots off when we get steals. We were getting a few steals and he was the beneficiary of some buckets and it got him going. He got a few easy ones early and then everything was dropping for him.”
While the easy points in transition might have been a new development for Pizzuti, his work in the paint was not as evidenced by his 20.5 points and 11 rebounds per game averages before Tuesday night. With the 6-foot-3 junior punishing the opposition down low, Pizzuti’s teammates wisely continued to find him in the paint as he made 24 field goals for the game.
“When Anthony was going, the kids started feeling it too,” said Mosca. “With the way he was working down low, they were giving him the ball. They were finding him, so I gotta give credit to the other guys on my team. They did a heck of a job of finding him.”
Matt Slaby had 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and five blocks for Lyndhurst (14-7), which jumped out to a 26-12 first quarter lead. Jake Mayer added eight rebounds and four steals to go with four points. in the win.
Kearny falls to 12-10.
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