Chicken Dinners Along Route 4 in Hackensack

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Chicken Dinners Along Route 4 in Hackensack

Journeys into Hackensack

They’re putting the finishing touches on the transformation of the old Hooters (Ground Round and auto dealerships before that) along Route 4 east between Hackensack Avenue and the river.

Located near students at FDU and the Academies, the new business, a Chick-fil-A, is likely to be a popular one.

As the place opens, we can’t help but think of a place decades ago just next door that was famous for chicken dinners in its time.

The restaurant was Holly’s, located at the intersection of Hackensack Avenue and Route 4. The place is now home of the Coach House Restaurant – a diner but bigger that has become a fixture at the spot in its own right.

But before the Coach House there was Holly’s. It was known for its food and its ice cream deserts. It was also known as the spot where one could catch a special Public Service bus parked there early evenings with “Trotters” sign on its front. It was ready to take any interested to Yonkers Raceway to catch the horse races. The special bus route in the 1950’s and 60’s (until the Meadowlands Race Track opened) was a forerunner of the casino bus lines that were popular in the 1980’s and 1990s – Those buses would shuttle would be gamblers to Atlantic City, enticements included chips for casino play and free dinners in casino eateries. Locally, the bus stopped every morning at Jay’s Pharmacy in Oradell poised to lure day trippers to the casinos along the boardwalk. But Holly’s was one of the first of those bus routes that beckoned locals to games of chance and sin. Now, of course, one need not leave home to gamble

Holly’s was also famous for its neon sign – attached. It identified the restaurant but was also famous for a chicken being transformed in from animal to dinner table delicacy. The Pinterest entry with the picture described it as “Holly's Restaurant Sign with lighted chickens running to the basket”.

Many have fond memories of the chicken dinners. I have no recollection of the food – but I sure do recall that sign with the “running chicken”.

The new Chick-fil-A sports a “retro” look in its building, but its sign is a generic corporate sign. No doubt it will successfully draw in multitudes, and become a local landmark in its own right.

But it will hard pressed to match the classic neon sign that graced Holly’s.

Chicken Dinners Along Route 4 in Hackensack

Photo Acknoweldgement & Credit: "Holly's Restaurant Sign with lighted chickens running to the basket" - Martha Szalay Scannell through Vintage Bergen County