U.S. Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th District) stopped into the Nutley Diner, at 372 Centre St. Tuesday, on the first stop of his Essex County diner tour on Wednesday night.
“We’re happy to have him here,” the owner of Nutley Diner’s son, Stelias Kalogeras, said.
In his other efforts to get to know the Nutley community, Frelinghuysen said he’s gone to every store in town recently.
“There’s a lot of nail and hair salons here,” he joked with Andy Garruto, of Garruto & Calabria law firm in Nutley. “I had some good pastries too.”
Frelinguysen will square off against Democrat John Arvanites in November.
Frelinghuysen, who visited four restaurants on Tuesday, admitted that most of the customers he met didn’t know him and didn't realize he represents them in Washington, he said, but they were all happy to meet him.
“People are always thrilled to meet someone running for Congress,” Frelinghuysen said. “And when I tell them I’m already in Congress they get really excited.”
The diner tour included the Nutley Diner in Nutley; Nevada Diner in Bloomfield; Verona Diner in Verona; and the Grasshopper in Cedar Grove.
Some women customers laughed and thanked him for free nail files, which was striped red, white and blue, instead of giving out a traditional campaign pen or bumper sticker.
The Congressman made his way around to not just to the customers but also introduced himself to the employees.
“We'll do anythng for anybody, Republican or Democrat,” said Michael Karas, the manager of the Nevada Diner in Bloomfield.
Since the redistricting, New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District has the largest population of residents of districts up for grabs in November. The seat was originally centered in Morris County, but now includes more towns in Essex and Passaic counties.
The townships added to the district last December were Nutley, Bloomfield, Wayne, Cedar Grove, Verona, Montclair, Pompton Lakes, Ogdensburg, Bloomingdale, Little Falls, North Haledon, Woodland Park and Wanaque. This has added over 270,000 people to the 11th District Frelinghuysen said.