LOGAN TWP. - Find an appetite for work, find a recipe for success.
At the “food joint” Romeo Bocaj owns, you find both on either side of his service counter.
The Classy Cow Food Joint — just Classy Cow to its regulars — opened several years ago in a small, retail center on Beckett Road off Center Square Road. A few minutes away is one of the main centers of warehouse development in the township, and thousands and thousands of hungry workers.
Bocaj bought the business about two years ago as his fourth restaurant venture. Pandemic regulations had indefinitely closed his restaurant in Center City Philadelphia and not being near a hot grill and people was making him crazy, he says.
Bocaj quickly was struck, talking to drivers and warehouse workers, about their wish for a restaurant with a menu and hours matching their blue-collar tastebuds and grueling schedules. That clientele has grown to account for about three-quarters of his customers and consumes his planning, he estimates.
“You have these people that, for them, you know, eggs make sense in the afternoon,” Bocaj says. “Or, vice versa, they want chicken wings at 6 o’clock in the morning. Or, they want a hoagie at 6 o’clock in the morning or a cheesesteak. That’s what we do. We offer all of that, and they love it.”
In fact, Monday through Thursday, Classy Cow is only open for breakfast and lunch traffic.
“And I’m going to say maybe over 75 percent of my business is warehouses,” Bocaj says. “There is no residential here that’s going to have breakfast that early — or even lunch. Everybody’s from the warehouses. My only residential I have is Friday night and Saturday night.”
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Currently a Marlton resident, Bocaj rises at 4:30 a.m. to be here to prep the restaurant for opening. “Sometimes, I come a little later and I regret it because of the traffic,” he says.
Around 10 o’clock, the restaurant starts its own deliveries of breakfast orders at warehouses. “But those who come here early, those are the ones that made us wake up that early,” Bocaj says.
Around 6:30 a.m. on most workdays, trucks start populating the parking lot and the grill gets busy.
A number of the trucks showing up every morning belong to Xavier Carpio, who does a two-hour trek to get here from his beloved home in New York City. “I gotta do what I got to do, brother,” he says, adding living near the Hudson River is worth it.
Xavier’s Trucking delivers goods from Best Buy and Ikea to customers in several states. Carpio likes to fuel himself at Classy Cow before hitting the road for a long workday. It’s been his routine for about two years now, he says.
“We couldn’t find a breakfast spot, and then I found this one,” Carpio says. “And ever since, we all started coming here. All my trucks, plus the guys. Great people. Food is great. Great guy, right here. Sort of like family, eh.”
“Cranky,” a nickname Bocaj gave him, also has a particular breakfast in mind when he walks in.
“I usually get a grilled cheese with French fries,” Carpio says. “And I get two eggs, over medium, with beef bacon. Beef bacon’s amazing. And the Carolina taters with whiz. Beef bacon’s freaking amazing.”
Delivery driver Jorge Barahona comes in from Plainfield, his home after leaving Brooklyn, N.Y. The routine for the last year and a half has been to load his truck at Best Buy and come over with co-workers for breakfast.
Grilled cheese and fries are his breakfast for champions. “That’s not really breakfast type of meal, but that’s what I like,” he says.
Barahona said a co-worker pointed him to the restaurant and it’s been his place ever since.
“Sometimes, you come 5:30, 6 in the morning,” Barahona said. “You know, sometimes you don’t want to talk to people. But you come here, and they always make us laugh. We make them laugh. Start off with a positive day, every day.”
Barahona said drivers work six days a week. The only day they might skip Class Cow is Saturday, when the restaurant opens later than usual because of its Friday night business.
Bocaj says another feature of the typical working person customer is their appreciation for fresh food and how they know whether they are getting it.
“I’ll give you an example,” Bocaj says. “My chicken cheesesteak is tenderloin. It’s not frozen packed. And we chop it fresh on the grill. Same thing with the steak. They know, they know the difference. quality you give them also.”
Bocaj, who left his native Albania at age 18, plans to reopen his Philadelphia restaurant in August. But he also will be keeping his hand in at The Classy Cow Food Joint.
“You know, I’m not knocking Wawa or anybody else,” Bocaj said. “They do their thing, but we’re different.”
This article originally appeared on Vineland Daily Journal: The Classy Cow Joint In Logan NJ draws on warehouse workers' tastes