"Once I heard the bulldozer ran into it, at first I was hesitant," said Danny Miliaresis, 27, "but then I saw it as an opportunity."
The restaurant reopened Monday and will offer discounts through Sunday. In addition to the bulldozer specials, children received small toy trucks.
The 150-seat diner is filled with images of the 1950s; serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and has a Marilyn Monroe-theme event room.
Miliaresis' parents, Gus and Aliki, moved to New Jersey from Greece in 1974, and Gus started as a cook at the West End Diner in Elizabeth. Less than a decade after immigrating, Gus opened the Brooklawn, a family institution from 1979 to 2011.
Taking over the Piston, Danny Miliaresis said, was a way to continue the tradition and create a new space for the family's old regulars.
"It's like a reunion," Aliki Miliaresis said, menus in hand, leading two customers to a blue-and-silver booth.
Before the Miliaresises took over, Jason Kramer and a co-owner had put more than $700,000 into the property, Kramer told The Inquirer in March. It was open only 93 days when, surveillance footage shows, the bulldozer drove down the road and crashed into the diner's north wall, the bucket lifting and damaging the roof.
Police have said miniature alcohol bottles were found in the bulldozer's cabin, leading to speculation the act was committed by a drunken vandal.
The perpetrator is also spotted on camera exiting the bulldozer and jumping into a silver minivan. The investigation continues, said Capt. William Whinna of the Westville police.
"It was well planned," said Maria Kramer, the mother of the former owner. "They had to know the equipment was available. There's a car waiting. In my eyes, it had to be purposefully set up."
At the diner Tuesday, sisters Marianne and Cheryl Karpinski sampled the beef barley and chicken orzo soup. They used to go to the Brooklawn every Sunday after church and for Friday dinners. "After both our mother's and our father's funerals, we brought everyone there," Marianne Karpinski said. "It's a place that values family and good food."
Contact Julia Terruso at 267-639-8288 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @juliaterruso.