BELLMAWR, New Jersey -- Jon and Karri Ricklin of Hillsdale, Bergen County, have been married for almost 40 years. And plenty of their dates nowadays take place at diners.
The tradition started back in 2015 with a photograph taken at the Livingston Diner.
"As I'm ordering, holding the menu, Karri snapped my picture," said Jon. "And I said, half-jokingly, this would be really cool if we can take this exact same picture at every diner in the state of New Jersey."
But he didn't realize how many diners there are in a state that's widely considered the 'Diner Capital of the World.'
Over the next couple of years, Jon and Karri visited diners casually with that lofty goal in the back of their minds. But on one particular trip through South Jersey, they were captivated by many diners dotted along quiet roads that remained unvisited.
That's when the couple started to take their mission seriously.
Jon, the owner of a dry clean delivery business, created a diner database to catalog their past and future trips. Karri, a registered nurse, is the driver, photographer, and of course, nutritionist. Jon organizes the photographs from their travels in a special folder
"Spending time with him, I could do almost anything," said Karri. "It's almost like a mini vacation without the suitcase."
Today, Jon and Karri traveled to Bellmawr to visit the Club Diner. Originally starting as a horse-drawn diner and then a small shop in the parking lot, the Club has been around since 1946.
It's the Ricklins' hope that their journey across the state will help keep small businesses such as the Club Diner around for many more years.
"They struggle and this is just our little contribution to help them and that means a lot to us," said Jon, "As a small businessman myself."
Whether it takes 5 or 25 more years, the Ricklins will continue on their quest to support small businesses and see more hidden gems of the Garden State.
"We're just going to do the best we can and enjoy this beautiful state of ours," said Jon.