Aladdin Barak knows what it takes to own a diner. He should, hes only been doing it for the last 30 years.
Barak was born in Turkey, but as he got older and had a family of his own he wanted more for them. He had heard of others in the area going to America, a place where there was opportunity. After a long conversation with his brother-in-law, they decided that they would give the American Dream a shot and open up their own business– a diner.
“We think about the business, it’s better than to work for somebody else,” said Barak.
Barak and his family came to America on August 8, 1983 and he opened the Liberty II diner (sound familiar?) five years later on October 26, 1988. It took years of planning and plenty of paperwork before he could get it up and running.
“It was not easy,” said Bazak. “When you open up a business, you either make it or you don’t make it. It’s a hard decision.”
His life was never the same after the diner opened. It soon became a popular stop for locals in the Burlington County area and Barak achieved his goal of supporting his family, but it came with a price of its own.
“When you open a business, you’re married to the business,” said Barak. “You don’t have a family anymore, you’re just married to the business. If you want to make it. If you don’t want to make it, leave it alone, close up the door.”
When Barak first opened up shop, he was happy with his achievement. As the years went by he wished that he could have spent more time with his family, but he will forever be grateful for the way that it has allowed him to provide for them.
Located on Route 130 in Bordentown, the Liberty II Diner has picked up a lot of loyal customers over the years. Some popular comments are always about the great breakfast menu, family environment, and friendly service.
“The best parts have been that we work the seven days, and our kids go and get their education,” said Barak. “If we had worked for somebody else, we couldn’t have made it there.”
After being in the business for the last three decades, and his children growing up in the environment and seeing how much work it is, he hopes that they will choose a different path. According to Barak, he worked hard his whole life, so that they could go to school and do even better.
However, he joked that he thinks they had it a little too easy, knowing that Dad will pay for everything.
“They spend the money and they don’t know where it comes from. They think it comes from the tree!” he exclaimed. “It doesn’t come from the tree, you work for it and you pay for it.”
Paul Parise, a customer who sat a nearby table, heard this remark and chimed in. He agreed with Aladdin, saying that he has had to work his whole life and never wants his own children to work as hard as he has.
“I want something better for my kids, that’s why I’ve worked hard by whole life,” said Parise. “At the age I am, I shouldn’t have to be doing the stuff that I’m doing. But it is the way that it is.”
Now in his 70’s, Barak’s children never had to work for him, he wanted them to focus on their studies. No matter what he struggled with, he never asked his kids to step in.
“You’re married to the business, you know? My wife, my kids, they eat,” Barak said. “What’s life? Too short, this life. It doesn’t matter how long you live, 50, 60, 100 years.”