The Whistle Stop in Waldwick is on the right track for old-fashioned family fun. When owner Tami Moses and her husband Neil bought a house on Frederick Street six years ago, the extra building was part of the deal. At the time, a small construction company operated there. Tami decided to open an ice cream shop when they moved out.
The menu soon expanded to coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and “to go” lunches catering to the morning commuters heading into New York City. Tami added “to-go” dinner selections for customers to pick up on their way home. “I cook the old-fashioned way,” says Tami. “My chicken pot pies, cheesesteaks, lasagne rollups, and Swedish meatballs over noodles are all old family recipes.” True enough, Tami works off of a yellowed, typewritten recipe card holding her grandmother’s meatloaf recipe.
Kids’ meals and daily soups are a big hit, as are her senior menu specials which include an entrée, soup, salad, and ice cream for $9.99. “I don’t use any salt when I cook,” she says. “I have a lot of seniors with high blood pressure who appreciate that.
Known as a “hidden gem by the tracks,” the Whistle Stop has a family-friendly, casual ambiance that a typical fast-food chain can’t duplicate. Railroad memorabilia and local history abounds throughout the cozy space, and customers bring her interesting articles like old trains, railroad lanterns, and vintage signs. It’s a great “stop” to learn about how things “used to be.”
The outside wall features a montage of Waldwick history painted by Nicole Goodell Priestner, and the Waldwick Museum, housed in the old train depot, is a short walk down the street. “I have a love for this town,” says Tami. “In 2019, I received a Citizen of the Year recognition. I do a lot for this town, but I do it out of love. I also believe that our kids need to know our history.” Tami is a member of the Waldwick Community Alliance, which restored the historic train station museum several years ago. Tami is also involved with Special Olympics Bergen County as a volunteer training program director. During the quarantine when the Whistle Stop was closed, she led an effort to make masks for front liners, mobilizing more than 60 sewers for the cause.
Families can enjoy lunch or a snack on the picnic tables while kids play on the wooden train set. A G-scale (Garden Scale) train display runs on part of the property to the delight of the little ones on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, providing safe and socially distant outdoor entertainment for all ages. Tami and her staff also offer children’s birthday parties, including a private train show personalized for the birthday child, a box lunch, and an ice cream dessert. All activities are COVID-safe and socially distanced.
During the pandemic, Tami and Neil installed a walk-up window to keep transactions easy and safe for customers. Because of her years of experience as an EMT and ambulance corps volunteer, Tami is especially attentive to families with dietary concerns like nut allergies, celiac, and gluten sensitivities. All items containing nuts are kept in entirely separate freezers and handled with disposable gloves. She maintains strict policies on food handling to prevent cross-contamination.
The Whistle Stop’s incredible ice cream comes from creameries in Amish country. They offer a selection of standard and seasonal flavors available in cones, cups, pints, and quarts. “Many customers even come throughout the winter for their ice cream,” says Tami. “When they pull up, and we see their car, we already know what they want and start getting it ready. It’s the personal touch!”
Indeed, it is that personal touch and reasonable pricing that set the Whistle Stop apart from the norm. “I want a family of four to be able to come here two times a week, rather than only once,” she says.
Tucked away on a side street with a minimal online presence, The Whistle Stop maintains a 5-star rating on Google and Yelp. “People divert off of Route 17 to find us,” says Tami.
“There are generations of families here in Waldwick. It has a great small-town feel.” “Moms will call me to let me know their child is walking here and ask me to text them when they are on their way back,” says Tami. “I make a point to hire high school kids from the local community, and we always have a family member present. It’s important to me to have a wholesome reputation.”