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Changes at Tic Toc Diner

PuniceaRana Dec 23, 2011 10:20 AM

While out and about the other night we were in need of sustenance, so we stopped into the reliable standby Tic Toc Diner. One of the first things I noted was that the menu had changed, (according to the waitress, for the second time in short while) Sadly, the menu is now very stripped down, almost to bare bones, and prices were raised quite a bit. Many of the classics have been eliminated. (Seriously, no meatloaf dinner at a Jersey diner?) On the plus side they are advertising they now use Pat LaFrieda burger patties for their burgers. While the burger patty was good, the bun was horrible - dry, crumbly, tasteless...very cheap tasting. I am not sure if they are using Pat LaFrieda for all their meat, as we only had burgers. I also thought the pricing was out of line...just under $40 for 2 burgers and fries, 2 drinks, cup of soup and a side salad.

  1. Quine Dec 23, 2011 11:18 AM

    Where is this located? I tied, but my ESP isn't working today.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Quine
      ambrose Dec 23, 2011 12:01 PM

      I assume the OP is referring to the diner in Clifton, in which case it's the Tick Tock. There is a web site, which I find to be quite annoying.

      1. re: ambrose
        PuniceaRana Dec 24, 2011 02:12 AM

        Yes, you are correct, I was speaking of the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton. (sorry for my lapse, I wrote the post while suffering from a combination of overwork and extreme lack of sleep)

        I checked the website and that is not the current menu. From what the waitress told us, they changed the menu a couple of months ago, and then changed the menu again just a few days prior to our visit earlier this week. Gone are the pages and pages of different selections the Tick Tock was known for, what is left is a bare bones menu. Missing too, were the ubiquitous "Daily Specials." All that remains now it is a stripped down breakfast menu, burgers, a few sandwiches, and a smattering of entrees, (one or two selections for each of the major categories, fish, pork, chicken, Italian, vegetarian) Frankly my local (small town) coffee shop now has a more extensive menu. As mentioned the prices have been raised considerably, more in line with Manhattan prices. The quality of the items I ordered were not up to what I have gotten so many times in the past from Tick Tock. The side salad, (just under $6) was served in the same glass plate as in the past, this time it was not a plateful, and the only greens was iceberg lettuce, which was not of the best quality. The table next to us who ordered dinners, had to ask for some bread or rolls. The waitress did swiftly bring them some, however I overheard the gentleman commenting upon receiving their check on being charged extra for the bread/rolls. The overall impression I got was that the place is hurting financially and management is cutting costs everywhere.

        1. re: PuniceaRana
          tommy Dec 24, 2011 07:06 AM

          Is there any reason to go to a diner other than for breakfast, a club sandwich, salad, or burger at 2 am?

          I can't imagine the Tick Tock is/was hurting financially. I haven't seen these changes first hand, but suspect there are different forces at work here beyond making "cuts" to increase profit.

          1. re: tommy
            menton1 Dec 25, 2011 11:34 AM

            No club sandwich anymore, the turkey is usually highly processed and inedible now. Maybe a plain BLT...

            Breakfast at any hour? Give me the venerable Egg Platter in Clifton/Paterson, virtually unchanged in years, even the prices have hardly gone up. 2 eggs with great home fries, $1.98.

            Burgers before 11PM? Bucu, of course. After 11? There's usually an Irish Pub serving them until 1 or 2.

            1. re: menton1
              huiray Dec 25, 2011 07:22 PM

              What about at 4 am?

              1. re: menton1
                tommy Dec 26, 2011 06:23 AM

                So you think it's reasonable to drive around to find an Irish pub that happens to be serving a burger at 2 am rather than stopping in at one of the many diners in the state?

                You seem to be dismissive of diners. While you clearly don't like them, and think there is "no reason" to go to a diner, I'm am offering a very simple and easy-to-understand counter to that, disproving your theory.

                1. re: tommy
                  fourunder Dec 26, 2011 08:31 AM

                  Yet, he continues to recommend and tout that dump egg place....go figure.

                  1. re: tommy
                    menton1 Dec 26, 2011 10:14 AM

                    It's just tiresome. Let me clarify that there is no reason " for me" to ever go to a diner. Enjoy.

                    The "dump" egg place is actually immaculately clean and retro-feel. And they have the best eggs & omelettes in the State.

                    But, there's always Dinallos!

                    1. re: menton1
                      joonjoon Dec 27, 2011 10:30 PM

                      I think you're missing the point menton...I doubt there are Irish pubs that sell burgers at 2am.

                      When I'm wasted at 2am, a diner's an absolute no-brainer. When I'm sober, I there tend to be better options.

                      P.s. What is "The "dump" egg place"?

                      1. re: joonjoon
                        menton1 Dec 28, 2011 07:47 AM

                        I didn't miss the point. My post clearly states the time that I would seek out an Irish Pub.

                        The egg place is the Egg Platter, on Crooks Ave in Clifton/Paterson. (2 blocks from Corrado's) Eggs and 20 kinds of omelettes. Skip anything else there. Retro. Weird hours, it's closed from 3PM and reopens at 10PM. Great home fries, too.

                2. re: tommy
                  ELA Dec 28, 2011 06:41 AM

                  I agree with you for the most part. It's the 2am plus default spot. No doubt.

                  I also see it as a default for some other people and situations/scenarios, not me, but to each their own of course. Some might view it as the default for the simple or basics although there are better alternatives. Some may view it as the "works for the masses" or something of the like, and perhaps for a few other situations/scenarios. It is what it is.

          2. huiray Dec 23, 2011 05:04 PM

            That's sad to hear.

            How recent was this last menu change? Their website menus still show meatloaf, for example, in their Blue Plate Specials: http://www.theticktockdiner.com/menu_...

            1. tommy Dec 23, 2011 09:15 PM

              I've had about 100 burgers over the past 20 years at the Tick Tock (assuming this is the one on rt 3 in Clifton), and I have to say I was never concerned about the purveyor, given that they were usually consumed at 2 am.

              "LaFrieda" is the new "black angus." They can pump it out, but if it's not good, it's not good. I can't imagine the Tick Tock's burgers are worth a stop unless it's right after the Loop Lounge's last call on the way home, with some gravy cheese fries.

              6 Replies
              1. re: tommy
                huiray Dec 23, 2011 09:22 PM

                Heh. My meal-stop at 3 am before crashing home used to be the Lyndhurst Diner rather than the Tick-Tock. :-)

                1. re: huiray
                  tommy Dec 23, 2011 09:26 PM

                  Ugh, that was so out of the way. Well, unless rolling out of Fatso's that is. I'm tired just thinking about those nights.

                  1. re: tommy
                    huiray Dec 24, 2011 05:16 AM

                    Fatso's is closed now, isn't it?
                    Well, I lived south of Rt 3, not too far from the Lyndhurst Diner...and often I would be rolling back from NYC. I guess you live(d) north of Rt 3.

                    1. re: tommy
                      huiray Dec 26, 2011 06:35 AM

                      Forgot to mention - how about The Colonial Diner? Just besides Rt 3 in Lyndhurst, open 24 hrs now after the update. An alternative to the Tick-Tock Diner now, if you're looking for something "on" (or convenient to) Rt 3 in the Clifton area and the Lyndhurst Diner is too far for you...

                      Tick Tock Diner
                      281 Allwood Rd, Clifton, NJ 07012

                      Colonial Diner
                      27 Orient Way, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071

                      Lyndhurst Diner & Restaurant
                      540 Riverside Ave, Lyndhurst, NJ 07071

                      1. re: huiray
                        tommy Dec 26, 2011 07:05 AM

                        These days if I'm at a diner after midnight it's usually at 9 am instead of 2 am. :-) But I do recall the Colonial diner.

                        The Tick Tock was featured on Triple D a few years ago. I wonder if the "chef" is still there?

                        1. re: huiray
                          fourunder Dec 26, 2011 08:33 AM

                          loved the old Colonial Diner for its simplicity....

                  2. nsxtasy Dec 24, 2011 06:41 AM

                    Just don't change the cheesecake!

                    1. Curlz Dec 24, 2011 07:55 AM

                      The previous redo of the menu (+ new logo, dishes, etc) may have been a bit ambitious; I haven't been there since this most recent change, but I'm curious to see what they've done. I wonder if competition from Smashburger, Zinburger, and TGIF's has made them realize they needed to simplify in order to please the masses?
                      Then again, I'm with Tommy...those 'basics' are what any diner is for, imo! But I'm shocked that meatloaf isn't one of them. I have one friend who ALWAYS orders meatloaf in a diner. Any diner.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Curlz
                        tommy Dec 24, 2011 08:00 AM

                        The point about additional competition is a good one. For years the Tick Tock was essentially the only thing on that long strip of land. Development started, bringing in businesses, which was no doubt good for the Tick Tock. And now, restaurants at similar price points, and with the perception (and like reality) of better quality, are popping up within spitting distance.

                        There are only so many reasons to be in that area of the planet around mealtime, and with options like Zinburger, that chain pizza place, that chain seafood place, the market is getting pretty tight, and they are trying to upscale their image. Of course, remaining as they were would have set them apart from the pack, but let's face it, diners are looked down upon.

                        Curlz, you shmatt. And now I want meatloaf.

                        1. re: tommy
                          Curlz Dec 24, 2011 11:09 AM

                          Sorry, but I'm too tired from thinking of you at the Tick Tock after closing at the Loop or Fatso's to make meatloaf! :-)

                          1. re: tommy
                            wereboar Dec 26, 2011 05:37 AM

                            I don't think diners are looked down upon at all. Many of them are family-friendly - more so than a lot of chain restaurants that dominate the highways - are offer a good variety and decent prices.

                          2. re: Curlz
                            PuniceaRana Dec 25, 2011 07:09 AM

                            My companion is also one who frequently orders the meatloaf at any diner. We both were incredulous that such an iconic item for any diner would be missing from the new menu.

                            I think you have hit it on the head though. I think the owner(s) laid out a bunch of money for the new menu, dishes, logo, possibly a consultant etc. in response to the increasing competition in the area. All of that combined with the down economy has them hurting. You know there is something going on when a place has two major menu changes within such a short period of time.

                            1. re: PuniceaRana
                              wereboar Dec 26, 2011 12:17 PM

                              I have never once ordered meatloaf at a diner. What's the allure?

                              1. re: wereboar
                                fourunder Dec 26, 2011 12:20 PM

                                It's usually always available....

                          3. w
                            wereboar Dec 25, 2011 06:36 AM

                            That's a shame to read. Last time I tried to go to the Tick Tock, it was packed to the gills so we had to go elsewhere.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: wereboar
                              Curlz Dec 26, 2011 06:21 AM

                              Oh, it's still packed, but as we all know, packed isn't necessarily an indicator of something good! See: TGIF's parking lot, Olive Garden, et al.

                            2. b
                              bifpocaroba Dec 27, 2011 05:04 AM

                              There is a better diner in Clifton.... The Lexington (assuming it's still there). An old classic diner that went the way of the Edsel was Kless in Irvington....
                              I grew up a stones throw from the Tick Tock, never went there. It's just the location that makes it famous.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: bifpocaroba
                                coldbeer Dec 27, 2011 09:28 AM

                                The last time I went to the Kless they looked at me like I was crazy for being in the neighborhood and begged me to be careful.

                                1. re: coldbeer
                                  bifpocaroba Dec 28, 2011 07:52 AM

                                  I loved Kless back in my college days...the waitress looked like Jack Klugman. She used to say "i know you guys are in college and all you do is drink" and she would bring us out a huge bowl of broccoli or string beans. Great times.

                                  1. re: coldbeer
                                    Jerzeegirl May 23, 2012 01:24 PM

                                    OMG, I haven't heard the name Kless's Diner in years. It was a toss up every Saturday night after bar hopping whether to go there, Don's or Don's Barn. I think all three of them are gone now.

                                2. e
                                  ELA Dec 27, 2011 07:52 PM

                                  If it's 4am, sure, a diner is your only option. You want a quick lunch, no preference, BLT, eggs, whatever -- your typical diner food, sure, I see it. Do I ever go to a diner other than at 4am. Sure. But I am not going for a burger for lunch or dinner. Nor am I going for a pastrami sandwich. There are far better alternatives. A diner is typically for basics, simple basics. Can you get some basics that are better elsewhere? Sure you can. Doesn't mean a diner doesn't work at various times, situations, for various things. You like it? Go.

                                  As far as the one isolated place that is better than a diner for this dish or that -- and it's the best -- and so on. As I always say, opinions...nothing more, nothing less. That's what makes the world go 'round. Go where you like and enjoy.

                                  1. m
                                    Moondancer5 May 23, 2012 10:50 AM

                                    I've been going to Tick Tock on Route 3 since moving to the area in 1983. We had noticed changes in the menu a few months ago, but we were staggered at the changes we saw when we went there Friday night at 9pm.

                                    The place was more than half empty, which surprised us (I mean, Friday night!) When we sat down and took a look around, we realized we didn't recognize any of the usual staff. Not one waiter or waitress, busboy, or even the manager and the cashier. The menu was shocking for how small it had gotten--barely any dinner entrees, and later on my husband said he was actually looking for the fried chicken and couldn't find it on the menu.

                                    The worst thing: I ordered my usual chocolate egg cream. When I got it, it tasted like nothing but seltzer, and I asked the waitress to please remake it. She looked confused, and took it back. A few minutes later I suddenly caught sight of her at the soda machine, furiously filling and stirring a large glass from the machine and letting it overflow the glass at least twice (that I saw). I said to my husband oh crap, I hope that's not my drink. And then she brought it over to me, dripping wet. She hadn't even wiped the glass off, putting it on the table made a puddle (she brought extra napkins). I took a quick taste and it was slightly more chocolate, and I just said it was better. As I drank the rest I realized I couldn't taste any milk at all... but I didn't think it was going to get better a third time.

                                    We had cheese steak sandwiches that were made of steak chopped so tiny the pieces wouldn't stay in the roll, had barely any of the onions or peppers on them, but big slabs of cheese. The busboy made more of a mess clearing the table while I was still eating than if he'd left it. When we went to the cashier, I couldn't help but tell her to please show the waitress how to make an egg cream. She looked confused.

                                    I'm not going to debate the relative merits of diners vs other restaurants. There are times you want a restaurant, and times you want a diner, and all that that implies. Whatever time of day or night, any one of the group can have their eggs, or their burger, or ravioli, or whatever, and it will be good.

                                    I never thought I'd see Tick Tock become bad, but it has. At first I thought the diminishing crowds there was due to the economy, but now I realize it's because it's just bad. I'll go back and give Park West another shot at becoming my favorite local diner.

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