Community Efforts to Support Jim Dandy's Recovery
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photo Credits: Jim Dandy's Restaurant and Rutherford Fire Department Facebook Pages, Lori Rosario-Griffin, Amy Laczynski, Romy Marchesani, Jennifer Ersalesi, Jennifer Gonzalez, Carlton Tanis, and Katie Pippin
Jim Dandy’s of Rutherford located on Park Avenue has been an important part of the Rutherford community for many years. Not only do many people enjoy the food and hospitality at Jim Dandy’s, but owner Brian Flynn and his employees have also been very generous to the community supporting a number of fundraising events. As the pandemic crisis began and restaurants had to reinvent themselves and the way they could serve their food to the public, Brian Flynn and his employees began offering curbside pick up and delivery. They also found other ways to support Rutherford and other towns.
During the past few months as members of our community have found it difficult to purchase items such as toilet paper, paper towels, bleach, plastic plates, etc., owner Brian Flynn decided to reach out to his suppliers to make sure to get those items delivered to his store four times per week. Similarly, after ordering through their wholesale suppliers, they had food items available for purchase, such as chicken, burgers, salmon, white bread, Tobasco sauce, ketchup, steak sauce, and salt. Jim Dandy’s stocked these items and provided contactless, curbside pickup.
Jim Dandy’s also created a Go Fund Me page, “Feed the Front Line by Jim Dandy’s of Rutherford”, to help support their efforts to feed the medical staff of different hospitals or first responder groups every week. Boxes contained their top-selling menu items and were delivered to front-line staff at a number of hospitals, as well as local Ambulance Corps, Police departments, etc. Each box cost $12 so Jim Dandy’s asked people to donate and for every $12 donated Jim Dandy’s matched that amount so each donation fed two first responders, instead of one. Additionally, Jim Dandy’s delivered meals to the frontline uniformed Veteran workers at the New Jersey Veterans Network (NJVN) and to the New Jersey National Guard stationed in Newark.
Jim Dandy’s has also donated surgical gloves to East Orange VA Hospital, Valley Hospital, Edgewater Ambulance Corps, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, Holy Name Hospital, and the New Jersey National Guard stationed in Newark.
On May 13th, a devastating fire broke out at Jim Dandy’s Restaurant on Park Avenue in Rutherford. Thankfully no one was injured during the fire, however, the restaurant has been damaged extensively. The Rutheford Fire Department and mutual aid fire departments worked strategically and quickly to put out the third alarm fire as quickly as possible. The Rutherford Police Department and EMS also worked hard in making sure all were safe during the fire.
As the owner and staff at Jim Dandy’s anxiously wait to rebuild the restaurant, Rutherford resident Dawn Avagliano-Schumacher has started a GoFundMe page to support their efforts. Dawn explains, “Brian Flynn has been there for the Rutherford community every single time that a school or community group had reached out to him for fundraising help. He always unequivocally said “YES” to support us in our fundraising endeavors throughout Rutherford and other surrounding towns...Now, it is our turn, where we are presented with the opportunity to give back to him to help Jim Dandy’s rebuild so that they can serve us those delicious BBQ Ribs and buffalo wings again!” To donate, click here.
Owner of Rutherford Prime Meats, James Cotugno, started a fundraiser to support Jim Dandy’s. With every order of the wings and ribs package, $20 will be given to Brian Flynn towards their recovery effort. To order from Rutherford Prime Meats, visit their website or use the link on their Facebook page.
This past weekend, May 16th and 17th, the Rutherford Arts Council organized small groups of people to create a mural on the boards that have been placed on the front of Jim Dandy’s restaurant. Brian Flynn had reached out to the Rutherford Arts Council to ask them if they could find a creative, inspirational way to remind the community that they would be back soon and to support the community during this health crisis.
Katie Pippin (pictured above), President of the Rutherford Arts Council, told TIR, “The Arts Council was thrilled to team up with Painting on Park to create an inspirational mural for Jim Dandy’s. We are hoping that this is the first of many public art installations in Rutherford. The response from the community as we painted was incredible. Countless people honked, cheered, and complimented our work. We can’t thank our volunteers enough.”
Jennifer Gonzalez (pictured above), the owner of Painting on Park, explained, “We were completely shocked and saddened when we hear about the fire, especially since we are two doors down and most of our students stop there before or after their classes. When Katie Pippin from the Rutherford Arts Council reached out to us to see if we’d be willing to design an inspiring mural that would cover their storefront while they are renovating, there was no way we couldn’t be part of that! The image of the American flag waving along each panel connecting them all came immediately to my mind, surrounded by blue hearts as a nod to all the effort Jim Dandy’s has put into helping first responders and front line workers through this pandemic. Katie wanted to have the Rutherford Bulldog worked into the design to show love from all the students that frequent their place on a regular basis. Katie rallied a bunch of volunteers through the Arts Council and the Junior Woman's Club of Rutherford (JWCR) and created a schedule so everyone could come in shifts to paint and personalize the mural in their own way. I’m used to handling all of the painting, but in this case, I felt the best thing I could do was lay down my design and let the town take it where they thought it should go. I think the final result is an expression of love from all the residents and represents Jim Dandys’ well. We hope that they are back on their feet soon.”
Eleven-year old, Samantha Jakubas (pictured above), was part of the painting crew on Saturday. She told TIR, “I am happy I was able to contribute in a small way because he (Brian) does so much for our community. I felt happiness when cars drove by beeping and waving saying we were doing a great job. Especially when Rutherford Police drove by and complimented our work over their loudspeaker. Everyone did a great job. I had so much fun painting the mural with friends as well. I used to go to Jim Dandy’s sometimes after school and I am looking forward to going back soon!”
“It was really great to be a part of this community project to help one of my favorite restaurants in town. It was so fun to spend the day being creative with friends for a great cause, “ fifth-grader Leah Griffin (pictured above) explained.
Eleven-year-old Lucia Marchesani (pictured above) told TIR, “I am so happy that I was included in this project. Jim Dandys’ was helping all of us in Rutherford and this fire is very tragic. I hope our art can help lift the spirits of our town during these hard times.”
Nine-year-old Charlotte Ersalesi explained, "I am happy that I got to be part of this because Jim Dandy's is a big part of Rutherford."