The smell of freshly brewed coffee wafts out onto Railroad Place, beckoning diners in for a hot cup paired with homemade pastries. Upon crossing the threshold, diners are brought back in time to what once was a staple of Hopewell Borough: Rose and Chubby’s Luncheonette. While they go in for food, that’s only half the experience.
“Our corner luncheonette has been operational in some form for nearly a hundred years,” shared owners Lyn Farrugia and Michelle Hamilton. Farrugia, who was Chubby’s niece, felt that something was missing when Rose and Chubby’s closed, and worked to revive the luncheonette over the past year.
“There are countless players in all those colorful memories,” Farrugia said. “My great hope is that all of their stories, memories, and teachings will live on in this building — that they will be remembered and shared with the future generations of luncheonette-goers so that the special cycle will go on.”
While ownership has switched, one thing is for certain: Aunt Chubby’s charm hasn’t changed.
Reopened as Aunt Chubby’s on January 31, the luncheonette maintains its vintage atmosphere. The original sign, now refurbished, hangs proudly on the wall and can be seen through the large front window. Newspaper articles from the 1980s and 90s are proudly displayed, both as a reminder of history and of success through the decades.
“A lot of the things we wanted to keep the same because there’s still a lot of nostalgia here,” said Julia Glennon, owner Farrugia’s daughter and baker at Aunt Chubby’s. “People come and they’ll sit at their table that they’ve always sat at and they’re like ‘this is still my table.’ We wanted to update it just enough where it doesn’t feel unfamiliar.”
Upon the reopening, Farrugia wanted to make slight changes to give back to the place that has given Aunt Chubby’s so much. The luncheonette is now a registered non-profit, and, while still in the early stages, hopes to help the Hopewell Fire Department after a call.
“Hopewell decided that it needed this restaurant back,” said employee Chris Thacher. “This restaurant could only work in Hopewell.”
The sense of community radiates through the air, as patrons from all over come to enjoy delicious food and good conversations. Aunt Chubby’s is open for breakfast on weekdays from 6:30am to noon, and for brunch on weekends from 7:30am to 3pm.
“We really just want a place where people can come and hang out with their neighbors, and have really good food, coffee, and great times,” said Glennon.