"Dear Beloved Customers, With a heavy heart we must inform you that the Red Lion Diner has sold. We will not be opening again. We appreciate all the support and patronage throughout the years. It was a difficult decision however we chose what was best for our families."

And, with that Facebook message, the Red Lion Diner, on Rt 206 and Rt 70 in Southampton Township, Burlington County, closed rather suddenly on Friday, Sept. 9.

Open since 1971, the diner's location had been perfect for grabbing a bite to eat when traveling between the Jersey Shore and Philly.

Word is that the diner site will soon become a new super Wawa, even though I counted five existing Wawas within a few minutes of Red Lion Circle.

Red Lion Diner has been owned and operated by the Tsiknakis family for the past five years. They own several other restaurants including the Monarch Diner in Glassboro.

The family had considered building a new Red Lion Diner in a nearby spot, but rising costs and mortgage rates put that idea out of reach.

Paul Tsiknakis told the Courier Post that having all of the family's restaurants closed during the pandemic caused him to reconsider his priorities.

It's sad that New Jersey's diners -- a "Jersey thing" if ever there was one -- are closing and disappearing at an alarming rate in recent times.

What can you do about it?

Patronize diners. There are still several excellent diners in the Atlantic City area. Have breakfast in one this weekend. Do lunch or dinner at your local diner. The cost is still comparatively affordable and the food is almost always excellent.

No one wants to live in a place that only has chain restaurants. That's why we live in New Jersey.

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