Order up! Yankees' Double-A affiliate unveils Jersey Diners alternate identity

January 23rd, 2024

Rise and shine. On Tuesday morning, the Somerset Patriots visited a New Jersey diner to announce that they're serving up a new alternate identity as The Jersey Diners.

New Jersey -- the Diner Capital of the World -- is home to over 500 diners, more than any other state. The central New Jersey-based Patriots, who have served as the Yankees' Double-A affiliate since 2021, are located in the middle of this gleaming, pre-fabricated and neon-drenched culinary wonderland. The idea to create a Jersey Diners alternate identity, which they will assume for three home games this coming season, came about following a larger brainstorm regarding Garden State-based food monikers. Pizza was one of the regionally beloved foodstuffs to be initially considered, but the conversation soon went in a different direction.

"What most teams center these rebrands around is one particular food item," said Patriots senior director of sales and marketing Hal Hansen, speaking on a Zoom call alongside several of his front office co-workers. "Pork Roll has been done [by the Trenton Thunder]. ... So then I was thinking Jersey Corn? Jersey Tomatoes? But how much fun could that be? So we kind of took a step backwards and looked at it from a broader perspective. Like, wait a minute, there are diners all over New Jersey. This can be really, really fun if we go this direction."

While Greasy Spoons was at one point considered as a possible name, it was ultimately decided to keep it simple and celebratory. The Jersey Diners wordmark is spelled out in what the team describes as "pink poodle" neon, situated within a "stainless silver" approximation of one of the state's classic boxcar-style diners. The logo on the cap is a smiling cup of coffee, decked out in the bow tie and paper hat regalia of a diner employee.

"The reason we decided on the coffee cup was that, when you go to a diner, that's literally the first thing you're asked: 'Cup of coffee?'" said Hansen.

"There are some synergies with that too," added Dave Marek, Patriots senior VP of marketing. "You always hear of Minor Leaguers getting their 'cup of coffee,' in the Major Leagues. And just having a cup of coffee is a good comfort in life. Coming to a fun Minor League Baseball game is comforting as well."

The Jersey Diners logos, designed by Ryan Foose (Fooser Studios), are complemented by a variety of secondary marks. These include a coffee pot embossed with an stylized "J" and "d" (for Jersey Diners), a stack of pancakes topped with a baseball-shaped slab of butter and a "State and Eggs" mark featuring a Jersey-shaped cut of breakfast sirloin. The "Happy Waitress" logo, meanwhile, is named after a Jersey diner staple: a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato. Hansen said the Happy Waitress will be among the "blue plate specials" available when the Patriots play as the Diners, along with the gravy and cheese-topped gut-buster known as Disco Fries.

The reveal, attended by Patriots season ticket holders and the media, took place at Park 22 Diner in Green Brook. A local oldies radio station provided the soundtrack, and there was -- of course -- plenty of food and coffee to go around. All attendees received a vintage paper diner hat, which will be included in all Diners merchandise orders this season.

"The kicker is that we chose [Tuesday] because it's National Pie Day," said Hansen. "So everyone on their way out [got] a piece of apple pie."

The Park 22 Diner was in the spotlight for the unveiling, but the Patriots' goal going forward will be to partner with as many diners as they can.

"We're really keeping the community in mind when we're doing this, and doing it with a purpose," said Marek. "One of the feedback items that I got from one diner owner was talking about how challenging it is, since COVID, with staffing and the price of food and different things like that. So we're going to create a book that is going to have the different diners that are participating in our program. ... It'll be like a trail map, so to speak. [Fans] go to all the diners, they get their page stamped, and then they'll get a special prize at the ballpark at the end of the year.

"So it's an opportunity for us to help bring awareness to diners, help promote diners and celebrate the fun that a diner has," he concluded.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is already on board, as he sent a letter to the team that read, in part: "New Jersey prides itself on being known as the Diner Capital of the World. As Governor, I commend the Somerset Patriots for recognizing the importance of diners in the Garden State."

The Patriots will make their Jersey Diners debut at TD Bank Ballpark in short order, hosting the Hartford Yard Goats on June 8.