10 Restaurants in NJ Offering Free Meals and Discounts to Furloughed Federal Employees

From deep discounts on meals to free coffee and tacos, eateries are helping federal employees and their families affected by the government shutdown.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Roughly 800,000 employees have been furloughed during the current and longest-ever government shutdown. New Jersey is home to thousands of them, with Essex, Atlantic, and Somerset counties home to the largest populations. Relief services for federal employees continue to pop-up, with PayPal just announcing it’s extending $25 million in credit to impacted workers (eligible, upon employment verification, for $500 of interest-free advanced PayPal credit). While bigger agencies work on bigger deals, Jersey’s gotta eat. The Community Food Bank of New Jersey is reaching out to the state’s 5,000 furloughed workers (and 730,000 NJ SNAP recipients), including with an Instagram post on where to find food.

Restaurants are pitching in, too. We’ve compiled a list of some of the New Jersey restaurants and cafes keeping Jersey’s federal workers fed and caffeinated through the shutdown.

Montclair Bread Co. owner Rachel Wyman has a family full of government employees, so she’s seen the pain of the shutdown firsthand. No surprise, her booming bakery business is going the extra mile to help furloughed workers (and those working unpaid) during the shutdown, offering involuntarily limbo-ed government employees a free cup of coffee and a sandwich or loaf of bread. They also hand-delivered 2,500 doughnuts and coffee to the hundreds of unpaid (but “essential”) TSA workers at Newark Liberty Airport. (Senator Bob Menendez also visited Montclair Bread Co. on Friday to discuss the shutdown, live on Facebook.) Montclair Bread Co., 16 Label Street, Montclair; 973-509-2525

—There is such thing as a free lunch (when times are tough, anyway). Not long ago we interviewed Downtown Dhaba owner Srini Rao, who recently reopened his restaurant in a new space in Westwood. To show his support during the shutdown, both Downtown Dhaba and Rao’s Allendale restaurant Nirvana Indian Kitchen are offering a free lunch to anyone with a government ID. Downtown Dhaba, 266 Center Avenue, Westwood; 201-664-0123; Nirvana Indian Kitchen, 29 West Allendale Avenue, Allendale; 201-818-2300

—Glen Rock-area grassroots activism group Glen Rock After the March has partnered with local restaurant Stone & Rail, creating a GoFundMe page to subsidize “a free entrée to any unpaid federal worker (and their guest)”. The fund exceeded its initial $1,000 goal as of Friday, but donations are welcome as long as the shutdown lasts, with any excess funds going to the United Way. Stone & Rail, 175 Rock Road; 201-345-0709

—The Coast Guard has a major training center in Cape May (the fifth largest of its bases), so it comes as no surprise that many local area restaurants and businesses are participating in deals for furloughed workers. (There are also larger donation drives, such as one being held by the Tri-Boro First Aid Squad in Seaside Park, which you can find out more about here). Meanwhile, restaurants like the C-View Inn in Cape May is offering 50% off its menu (drinks excluded) through the shutdown, and The Iron Room is offering Coast Guard members and their spouses a free meal Tuesday through Thursday. (Drinks and tip aren’t included, but it’s nice to get a free meal for your spouse, too.) C-View Inn, 1380 Washington Street, Cape May; 609-884-4712; The Iron Room, 648 North Albany Avenue, Atlantic City; 609-348-6400

According to an Instagram post, Brickwall Tavern is going by the numbers, “offering federal workers with a valid government ID a percentage off of their food bill based on how many days the government has been closed.” The deal is available to federal workers with a valid ID at their Asbury Park and Burlington (and Philly) locations. Brickwall Tavern, 522 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park; 732-774-1264

JBJ Soul Kitchen in Red Bank and Toms River already invests in the community by offering in-need diners the opportunity to pay as they can and/or volunteer to cover the cost of their meals. During the shutdown, both locations are offering federal employees and their families dinner, Wednesday through Saturday, as well as Sunday Brunch. They also encourage workers to come by and “learn what other resources might be available to you.” JBJ Soul Kitchen, 207 Monmouth Street, Red Bank; 732-842-0900

—Arguably one of the funkier roadside spots you’ll find on Route 46, Steve’s Burgers is offering a maybe much-needed, All-American free cheeseburger and fries to furloughed government workers through the shutdown. Steve’s Burgers, 506 Route 46, Garfield; 973-772-1770

—If hamburgers aren’t your thing, check out Ice Cream by Mike in Ridgewood, where Mike Elias himself took to Instagram to announce their support with a free hot dog for every federal worker with a valid ID. Ice Cream by Mike, 305 East Ridgewood Avenue, Ridgewood; 201-343-4514

—If you’re a furloughed worker looking for a well-deserved coffee break, Hidden Grounds Coffee Co. has you covered. The Jersey coffee shop mini-chain is offering free java to all furloughed government workers—“Valid until our government gets it together again!”—at its locations in New Brunswick, Jersey City, and Hoboken. It’s not a meal, but it’ll get you through the latest headlines. Hidden Grounds Coffee Co., 106 Easton Avenue, New Brunswick; 732-317-4117

Gregory’s Bar & Restaurant in Somers Point invites federal workers to come enjoy free tacos on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the government shutdown. Gregory’s Bar & Restaurant, 900 Shore Road, Somers Point; 609-927-6665

Click here to leave a comment
Read more Table Hopping articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.