Monday afternoon’s visit to the Crystal Diner, a popular staple among Toms River restaurants for many years, was like any other; attentive staff and food served quickly.
That is, except for the lights.
The lights of the restaurant went out several times, only to come back to life for brief moments, then flicker and die out once more.
“This has only happened today,” said waitress Jackie Ramirez. “It’s been crazy.”
Ramirez discussed the vibe present in the restaurant ever since the tumult that Hurricane Sandy brought to the area.
“We’ve had lots of customers who were displaced from their homes. They’ve told me different stories about their homes being washed away and losing everything,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez described the mood among the customers as a mix — some were trying to remain upbeat through the chaos, while others were visibly still coming to grips with the aftermath of the storm.
“Some seemed spaced-out,” she said.
Ramirez said that the mood at the diner probably wouldn’t return to its usual state for a couple of months at the very least, but wished everyone affected by the storm well moving forward.
“I hope everyone will be safe,” said Ramirez.
Those sentiments were shared by hostess Darlene Volk. Volk explained that the diner didn’t lose power at all during the storm, yet struggled with electricity issues on Monday.
“This has only happened today. People have been charging their phones, laptops, kids games, anything they could here,” Volk explained, adding that she had just recently regained electricity in her Beachwood home.
“I had just dealt with power being out in my house for 11 days. If I didn’t have a generator, I don’t know what I would have done,” she said.
Volk also described the mood among some of the customers as “devastated”.
“For some, it’s like it hasn’t hit them yet. We had some customers who were away on vacation during the storm, who lived in Normandy Beach. They returned to be told that they could go on the buses and fill only one suitcase with their belongings,” said Volk.
“People have shared their stories. I hope that the people who lost their lives and homes find a way to get them back,” Volk stated.