Meals on Wheels

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    SPARTA-Area businesses have discovered that joining parents in their struggle to preserve the family time translates into more sales of products and services. In fact, many local shops have adjusted or expanded some of their offerings in order to cater to the ever-growing number of time-strapped, schedule-extensive families. Area restaurants, for example, now offer a wide variety of services, from special parking for quick pick-up orders, to home delivery of complete family meals. Here is what some Sparta restaurants have to offer to busy families: Il Porto Restaurant at Lake Mohawk, 7 Boardwalk Place, Sparta. 973-729-9901. "We try to help them as much as we can," said owner George Kostis, referring to families on-the-go. The restaurant, which has been in business for nine years, provides a special catering menu, offer child-sized portions, and take-out orders of whole meals, of traditional meals such as pasta and vegetable dinners with bread and butter.  According to Kostis, the winter months as well as June and July seem to be a more popular time when families are most likely to order take out dinners. In a typical week, the restaurant receives six orders a night for take-out and up to 15 take-out dinners on Fridays.   Casa Mia, 20 White Deer Plaza, Sparta. 973-729-6606. "I provide anything imaginable to help my people," said Mike Pugliese, owner of Casa Mia. The restaurant offers catering, table service in the restaurant and take-out dinners. "Customer service is what makes the difference between one restaurant and another. We provide personal service for whatever is needed." Casa Mia employees monitor the 10-minute parking spots close to the restaurant in order to provide better service to busy families. "If a lady who has three children in car seats, comes to pick up her order and has to carry pizzas I want her parking experience to be as easy as possible. If she can't make it in, we will gladly walk her order to her car," said Pugliese.  The restaurant offers a limited delivery service. "Last week, a woman who was on crutches called in an order, so I delivered her dinner to her home. I'll do it if someone can't get out or if they have something to do," said Pugliese. "We do, however offer free delivery for our catered meals and big orders on a regular basis." Casa Mia offers child-sized portions, accepts credit-card payments over the phone to make pick up quicker, offer family-style dinners including chicken, pasta, salad or soup, and bread.  Lucky House Chinese Restaurant, 12 White Deer Plaza, Sparta. 973-726-7656. This family run, Chinese restaurant provides the option of dining-in or the opportunity of free delivery and take-out service to make meal time fast and convenient for their customers.  Owner Wan Lu, recommends customers call ahead 25-30 minutes if delivery is needed and only 10-15 minutes for take-out. A customer's take-out order comes with a 15 percent off coupon for a future meal.  According to Lu, the delivery service was added only two years ago and has helped the business grow a great deal. Parking is located behind the restaurant with a short yet scenic walk up an alley stairway between the buildings. There are also three 10-minute parking spots near the front of the restaurant. Curb side service at no extra charge is also available if the customer calls ahead. Meals come in pint or quart size portions to make feeding a family with varied preferences easier.  Lu advertises with menus folded in the Sparta Independent on a monthly basis to make ordering easier and convenient for his customers. He has two phone lines and two separate cooks to make ordering as simple and quick as possible.  Chicken Dun-Rite, 224 Sparta Ave., Sparta. 973-726-7790.  Coming in late from work or after the boys' baseball game run into extra innings and there's no time to eat dinner, let alone wait for it to cook?  Chicken Dun-Rite, in Sparta since 1999, boast that it can have a phoned or faxed order ready by the time it takes to drive from the boys' baseball game. If a customer let's the restaurant know what type of vehicle to expect, employees are ready to deliver the order to the car. If this service is not convenient enough, home delivery is also an option. "I have three sons who are all grown now, and I remember what it was like; all the hustle, and bustle. By the time you cook the dinner, no one want to eat it anymore," stated Jerry Mastrofilippo, owner of Chicken Dun-Rite.  "The idea is to get the food as soon as possible." In addition to chicken, the restaurant offers fish, ribs, appetizers, dessert, side dishes, fruit cups, sandwiches and salads. Family meals, which serve for 3-6 people, include an entrée, two large side dishes, and biscuits. Chicken strips, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese bites are hot items with young customers. The Homestead Restaurant, 294 No. Church Road, Sparta. 973-383-4914. This cozy family restaurant offers all of its menu items in ready-to-go format.  "Our entire menu is available for take-out orders, even our child sized portions.  Everything we make can be packaged to go. The wait time is usually 10-15 minutes, so if they call ahead, we can usually have it ready by the time they get here," commented Maureen Reyes, the tavern's manager.  Built in 1926, this establishment was originally a small grocery store and ice cream stand that catered to the city folk. After prohibition in 1933, the owners applied for a liquor license and has been considered a tavern ever since. This restaurant offers a huge parking lot for their customers' convenience. "There are some customers who want our daily specials and menu faxed to them on a regular basis and we are pleased to accommodate them," stated Reyes.  In addition, the Homestead Restaurant offers complete dinners including hamburgers, steaks, sandwiches, pasta, and boasts a special salad menu. "We try to accommodate our customers to the best of our ability," added Reyes.