Cherry Hill, NJ (WTXF) - A fire at the Cherry Hill apartment complex this week sent a young family running into the cold dark night--running for their lives. Where did they end up? Well, that's a story about a place where cooking and community intersect.
When Justin Sacks and his daughters walked into the Cherry Hill Diner to say thank you Thursday night, it was the second time in a week they had come here for something other than a meal.
Around midnight Monday, the family was driven from their place at the Colonial Apartments next-door by a roaring fire that would damage 32 units. Justin, 12-year-old Ahava and 8-year-old Leila, both still in their pjs, sat in their car trying to keep warm. Then, nature called and they hiked on over to the diner.
"You know, I'm a little nervous because you don't want to walk into a place not expecting to buy anything and say 'Can I use the bathroom?' That's usually not the guy you want to be," father, Justin Sacks, said.
Overnight Manager Diane Ifill sized up the situation and jumped into action.
"They were cold. They were crying. I thought this is horrible. I have to do something for this family," she said.
Diane and her crew brought out hot food, hot drinks and even offered up a back booth for Leila to get some sleep.
"We took a seat at the booth and they got us hot chocolate and food and just-- it was very nice," Ahava said.
Over the next 90 minutes, more fire victims showed up at the diner, firefighters and EMTs too, each getting the same red carpet treatment. Everything was on the house that night.
Justin has been a diner regular for years though not late night. Diane was coming here as a kid long before working here. Both know the value of this place goes beyond a good meal.
"We just love this community. And we're proud of it and anything we can do to help we'll do."
"They were really incredible how just a little community diner and they were really showing what community is at that point," Justin said.