General Mills would have you believe that Wheaties is “The Breakfast of Champions.” Sixty years of Villanova students, athletes, coaches and administrators beg to differ.
Joe’s Place in Wayne, as its green-painted glass proudly displays, has been serving breakfast and lunch since 1946. Joe’s is the local dinette of choice and has been serving Villanova from the beginning because it is affordable, filling, fast, friendly, accessible and historic.
Owner Marty Costello is the man behind the counter working the grill. Marty has worked at Joe’s in many capacities since he was seven years old, and his father was then the big boss.
When his father passed away more than 20 years ago, Marty left his job in the insurance industry to ensure Joe’s tradition lived on.
Today, Marty is assisted by his wife Dottie and daughter Samantha. Marty’s son, Marty Jr., also worked for a time, but his working days at the diner ended on his first day at Villanova Law School.
Marty Sr., by the way, is proud to report that his son graduated last May and passed the Bar 10 days ago.
The interior of Joe’s Place hasn’t changed since 1971. There is a wooden countertop with seating that provides a clear view of the steaming grill.
Two back rooms have additional seating and tables. One white wall has stenciled shamrocks and the greeting “Top O’ the Morning to You,” while others are wood-paneled and plastered with baseball caps, antique menus, posters, postcards, pictures, newspaper clippings and current athletic schedules.
Joe’s Place opens at 6 p.m. and closes at 2 p.m They serve such breakfast staples as eggs, pancakes and french toast.
For lunch you can order cheesesteaks, chicken cheesesteaks, soups, sandwiches and hoagies. Most loyalists swear by the breakfast sandwich on a round or long roll. Customers can combine egg and cheese with sausage, bacon, scrapple, ham, kielbasa, steak or porkroll. Joe’s has a variety of hot drinks, sodas, iced teas and milkshakes to wash it all down.
Even though he is tremendously busy at the grill, Marty always takes the time to converse with customers.
Villanova is one of his favorite topics. Marty counts many Villanova graduates in his family, including his cousin Sean Patrick Collins, who was inducted into the Villanova Hall of Fame the same year as Rollie Massimino and Howie Long. To many at Villanova, Jake Nevin is a name of a fieldhouse. To Marty, Jake was an old friend who came to eat religiously. The same can be said of Lou Ferry, Vince McNally and Bobby Lambert.
While younger Villanovans may not be familiar with these Villanovan legends, many do know NBA stars Kerry Kittles, Jason Lawson and Alvin Williams.
Marty jokingly claims that he introduced Jason to Chuck Daly, the Penn-coach-turned-NBA championship-winning coach, who was later responsible for bringing Lawson to Orlando on draft day.
Marty continues to cherish his special relationship with Villanova, which he describes as a “wonderful school with an excellent tradition.”
Marty thanks Eddie Pinckney for bringing the ball players in all summer long, as well as Andy Talley, to whom he said, “How lucky you are to have such exceptional men on the team. Luck really has nothing to do with it, though. It’s the way you recruit, and the men are a credit to the school.”
Marty also attends baseball games in the new park where he’ll keep a close eye on #19 Joey Cotter, whose mother and grandmother both work at Joe’s.
Finally, Marty is particularly fond of the women’s soccer and basketball teams, whom he wishes continued success.
Whether or not you part of a team, Joe’s Place is the place to go to start the day off right or recover from a rough night. I recommend calling in an order on weekends to better deal with a busy crowd.