The Franklin Diner sits on Route 23 in Sussex County, New Jersey, all set up and ready for business. The chairs are lined up at the counter. Salt and pepper shakers sit on the tables beside the filled napkin dispensers. The corkboard by the front door is filled with ads and public notices. But the Franklin Diner hasn’t opened since 2005 when its longtime owner John F. “Jack” Carroll passed away. The diner had been in Carroll’s family for 50 years, and he’d been running it with his two daughters since his wife died in 1993. The daughters still own the diner and they faithfully pay the $14,231 annual property tax and the sewer and water bill, everything responsible business owners should do except, you know, run the business.
They refused to explain themselves to NJ.com, so enterprising reporter Rob Jennings poked around town trying to find somebody with any information at all. He collected some tender reminiscences of the Franklin’s days as a community hub and praise for Carroll’s ham salad sandwich. But of the Carroll daughters, nothing at all. “They just walked out, closed the door, and that’s why it is exactly the same as when he died,” one longtime customer told him.
Sometimes that’s all you’ll ever know.