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Without Community Support, Rony's Rock Burger Struggles to Survive

Rony Alvarado can't figure out why Glen Rock residents haven't packed his burger joint. If it business stays like this, he says he won't make it through 2012.

Rony Alvarado stacks several meals on his arms and forearms, waltzes past the rock memorabilia draped from the walls and places the grass-fed burgers, cut fries and thick shakes on the table. The kids, smiling and shouting, quickly make a request – "Can we put on Spongebob?" they chirp.

"Oh you got it, sure," Alvarado laughs, turning on Nick Jr. "I love kids," he says, grinning. "Family, that's important, man; it matters so much."

Though he's all smiles with customers – even telling those without cash their credit is good with him – Rony (pronounced "Ronnie") and his restaurant, Rony's Rock Burger, are hurting.

Alvarado took the restaurant over in March of 2011 from former owner Jeff Louis, transforming the small "man vs. food"-styled burger joint to a rock-'n-roll themed hangout.

While items like the Ted Nugent (chicken nuggets), Yolk-o (burger with a fried egg) and Sweet Home Alabama (grilled cheese sandwich) have brought some groupies and a heaping of teens looking for a place to gather, it just isn't enough to make ends meet.

The $3,300 he pays a month on rent and taxes looks like a mountain. The last three others who failed in the same location can attest to those struggles, he remarks. Alvarado is behind on payments and the landlord won't budge on lowering the rent.

He tried to open his burger joint over the summer, hucking his burgers at the Glen Rock Municipal Pool in June. He "lost his shirt" and quickly shut down again before reopening for fall.

"If it keeps going like this, I don't think I'll make it to the end of the year," Alvarado says somberly.

It's a bewildering situation for Rony, who previously worked as a chef across the street at RoCCa.

"I don't understand why I'm not getting the community support," he says. "Everybody that comes here is so satisfied. I never got a complaint from anybody, ever. This is the best burger in the area. So I know it's not that they don't like the food. I just think that people in town don't support enough businesses right here...I get some people in town coming but it's just not enough." 

Alvarado says he believes the borough citizens are largely aware of his burger spot, located at 192 Rock Road.

He also acknowledges that some places in town – pointing to John's Boy Pizza – have a regular, steady stream of fiercely local residents packing the tables, which arguably makes it harder to set a toe hold in the market.

"Owning a restaurant has been a dream," he says. "And what better place to have it than in Glen Rock? This is a great town. I figured if I presented a great product at a moderate price, people would love it. It just hasn't panned out yet."

Asked if he thought it could be a marketing problem, Alvarado wasn't sure.

It's something of a moot point – you need money to spend money on advertising, he notes. And the til's low, with available funds largely heading to the landlord, distributors and the energy company.

Alvarado says he's trying all he can to spur some interest in his rock-themed burger joint. He's taking a risk by opening up again on Sundays by offering specials on wings, free fries on Thursdays and $2 sliders if the customer orders 10 or more, he says.

"Whatever it takes; I'll come to your house and cook," he told Patch. "Whatever I need to do. My customers are amazing, all I need are more of them from here. We're fighting, we're trying to make it. That's all I can do."

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor James Kleimann at James.Kleimann@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

rock October 02, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Coming from a glen rock high schooler there is no place in town that I would rather not eat at. I've ordered the same thing two or three times and the price has always been different. It had nothing to do with the cost of goods it was within a 2 week span. The burgers just dont compare to the likes of five guys, smash burger shake shack, or anything else. I'd much rather drive over to paramus or hackensack, and spend around $10 for either five guys or smashburger. Better environment and a better burger. Also, I can make the same quality fries in my oven at home from a frozen pack.
GlenRocking October 03, 2012 at 05:01 PM
One thing that keeps me from this place... NO CREDIT CARDS accepted...we are not a cash and carry society anymore. I have been in Rony's and seen people walk out...why because they don't take credit cards. Also a little advertising in the Gazette would be good...Maybe having some coupons printed in there for us townies. Also there are so many parents that take their kids out to lunch everyday and Subway, Jonn Boy's, Francesca's are all busy at lunch time. Time is important for moms who need to get their kid back to school within the 20 (or so) min window they have. You also have to be faster. I've waited over 1/2 an hour for 2 cheeseburgers once, nothing fancy just 2 Cheeseburgers and 1 order of fries..... There was no one else in the store....just me to bring home, I had to sit there and watch sports or something....Personally I think if you accepted credit card(s) and made things go a little bit faster behind the grill get some help your business would flourish, Stand outside cut your sliders into fours and have the town people sample...If more people tasted his food i think they would order it, but not without a CC, anytime I order anything for takeout, I always use a CC it's just easier for me and think a lot of other people too. I hope you do well, I'd hate to see you close down, but take some these comments seriously, work ideas into your business plan, then I can see you being a staple here in GR for a loooong time.
JJL January 26, 2013 at 02:16 AM
What a joke people are now a days, right here is what is the matter with America great. Here is a hard working family guy that produces a good product at a great price again maybe not for everybody but should be able to accomplish his dreams and people rather go support corporate America, long live small business or Mom and Pop's that made America Great.
think about March 06, 2013 at 01:56 AM
I live in Glen Rock and just tried to order delivery from Rony. I searched the web for their website and found that they only had a Facebook page. It did have a menu and said that they deliver for lunch and dinner. When I called to place my order (just for me) he said that I didn't meet the delivery minimum. There is nothing on his "website" about a minimum delivery amount. When I stated that there is no mention of the minimum on his Facebook menu he said that I needed to order at least $20 and then asked if I still wanted the order I said yes but I only wanted the food I previously told.him that I wanted to order and he said he wouldn't deliver unless I ordered $20 worth of food. I live literally three minutes from this place and if I didn't have sleeping kids I probably would have picked up the order. If he would have stated on his menu the delivery minimum I wouldn't have a problem but stating you deliver without stating you have a minimum is deceiving. Almost like a bait and switch. Sorry but I won't ever be a customer of your establishment Rony. Deception will get you nothing but a going out of business sign on your door. GOOD LUCK with that!
thetentman March 07, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Wow he did not serve an 'A'Hole 'D'Bag, I'm going back!

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