Over the past two years or so, the Coach House diner in Hackensack has gone downhill so fast, it appears never to be coming back. Look, the Coach House never served really good food - not by general restaurant standards and not by diner standards. Many of us locals call it Roach House. But the food had been dependable enough, and the location of the diner superb and convenient for many in Bergen, near Route 4 and the Riverside mall.
Notwithstanding the many bad experiences my husband and I had at the Coach House in the past couple of years, we returned because of location and because it's a local institution we kept hoping was experiencing merely a bad day. But everyday there is a bad day.
First, the service is unbearable - I recently ordered a fried egg sandwich for breakfast and got a sliced steak sandwich. Truly about half the time we've gone there in the past couple of years, the waiters got someone's order at the table wrong. Clearly the diner is having terrible staff problems - we notice that there's been tremendous turnover in waitstaff of late. The food is not even passably fresh - at a recent dinner, the fish tasted from freezer burn and the baked potato actually had dark rotting parts.
To top it all off, the diner is awful about clearing plates from empty tables, and it often looks filthy.
It seems others are catching on - for years, the Coach House in Hackensack was the most crowded diner for miles around. But it's been rather empty of late, including during peak times. The buzz has spread as well - ask someone you know about the Coach House in Hackensack and they say, yeeech, I don't go there anymore.
Probably the main reason is, there's now competition. Just as the Coach House started going downhill a couple of years ago, about a mile east on Route 4, the 4 West Diner opened (called 4 West because though it's further east on Route 4, it's on Route 4 westbound.)
Though 4 West couldn't be considered one of New Jersey's great diners by any means - nowhere near the Tick Tock in Clifton, for instance - it has decent, fresh enough food, a great menu and one of the more pleasant decors among the state's diners, more like a general restaurant than a classic diner. The service is also terrific.
By the way, there's another Coach House in North Bergen that I had been to about a year ago, and it was pretty good - and I hear the same from others. So in fairness to the Coach House owners, I want to point out that my review here is only of the Coach House in Hackensack, a rancid diner and a miserable dining experience.
Coach House Diner & Restaurant
55 State Rt 4, Hackensack, NJ 07601