Anyone from Jersey knows we all have our favorite places for hot dogs. Italian hot dog? For me it was Dickie Dee’s. A hot dog truck dog? I would go to JR’s on Franklin Avenue in Nutley. If you wanted something really special, it was Rutt’s Hut. For my husband, however, growing up in Elmwood Park, for him, it was River View East.
When we were first dating, we would often debate which was better; Rutt’s Hut or River View East. He had never heard of Rutt’s and I had never heard from River View. We would often visit both places, and of course we would never agree.
Today, I’m lucky, because Rutt’s Hut is still in business. Unfortunately, today was the last day for River View East. Citing a combination of rising labor costs, inflation, and rent, owner Tom Decicco said it is impossible to continue.
“It’s a death by a thousand cuts,” he said during a recent interview. “I held it as long as I could.”
Places like River View East are bastions against the continued gentrification of our favorite spots. They aren’t fancy. They have been around for decades. Everyone has a story about these places. And they are sadly starting to fade away. It is about more than a hot dog. They represent a moment in time. It is about your local neighborhood. Most have been here long before there was a Starbucks on every corner and video calls only existed on The Jetsons.
So tonight, all lovers of old school hot dog joints in Jersey offer our condolences to the fans and ownership of River View East. I invite you to check out all the other awesome places around the state. You may find a new hangout, but it will never replace River View East in your heart.