Business Owners Urge Governor to Move Faster to Reopen NJ


PARSIPPANY – Diner owner Peter Sedereas wants to treat Phil Murphy to a cup of coffee. That’s all. Not a steak or his favorite brand of scotch, just coffee.

Sedereas, who owns the Townsquare Diner in Wharton, was one of a half-dozen speakers converging at the Powder Mill Plaza today to urge the governor to more quickly reopen the state as the pandemic eases.

The event was hosted by a group aptly-named “Unlock NJ.”

As Republican Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, (Dist. 26) put it, “We want to be able to understand what the governor is thinking.”

And what better way to do that than with some chit-chat over coffee?

From what we see at his regular briefings, the governor is thinking about reopening the state – but piecemeal.

Just this week, he announced the reopening of restaurants for outside dining, child care centers and day camps in the next few weeks. Last month, he allowed non-essential businesses to open for curbside

His critics make two general points. One is that they do not see an overall plan; the other is that all this is happening too slowly.

DeCroce stressed that the governor should trust business operators to be smart.

“They don’t want to get sick,” she said.

To prove it, Justin Depasquale, owner of a spa that bears his name, conducted a tour of his business emphasizing how he plans to operate with social distancing in place and hand sanitizers in easy reach. He said he and other small business owners are just looking “to get back to work responsibly.”

Still, they stressed that danger looms if reopening doesn’t happen soon. A maternity boutique, Momique, in the plaza plans to close because of the pandemic-related lock-down.

And diner owner Sedereas said outdoor dining is not for everyone. He said he has an outdoor patio, but that many restaurants and diners do not.

Also speaking today was Rosemary Becchi, the Republican candidate for Congress in District 11.

She summed up what Unlock NJ aims to do:

“We want to help people and we want to do it now.”

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