|Image via Wikipedia|
|IKEA offers a real alternative to fast food.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The restaurant-cafe in the IKEA store in Paramus has always been known for good food at reasonable prices.
Now, the store is offering a free breakfast on Mondays and free meals for kids on Tuesdays, plus a lower price for its traditional Swedish meatballs.
As you'd expect, a line of about 15 to 20 people formed not long after 9:30 a.m. opening today.
There were young, old, white, black, Hispanic and Asian customers, some with kids in tow -- reflecting the demographics of North Jersey.
The free breakfast -- usually 99 cents -- includes scrambled eggs, potatoes and bacon or sausage, as well as unlimited coffee, and it's served until 11 a.m.
I got two ice-cream scoops of eggs and a large metal spoon's worth of potatoes, but I asked the counter guy to hold the meat.
A dish of organic pasta with sauce -- normally $1.99 -- is 99 cents on Mondays after 11 a.m.
On Tuesdays, kids can get any of three combination meals for free -- meatballs, chicken tenders or mac and cheese -- including a drink. Normally, they are $2.49.
In Paramus, free meals for kids are available every day through Aug. 21, according to the Web site.
A hot dog and soda in the Bistro is $1 on Fridays -- a price cut of 50 cents.
Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, cream sauce and ligonberries are now $2.99, compared to $3.29 last year.
For $4.99, you can get cold-smoked and marinated salmon with lime-accented vegetables, and 69 cents buys coffee and a Swedish coffee roll.
You're expected to clear your own table, but the dining room is a pleasant space, flooded with natural light from a 15-foot-high glass wall.
The IKEA in Elizabeth has an outdoor dining space opposite the runaways of Newark Liberty International Airport.
On Aug. 19, I won't miss the all-you-can-eat Crayfish Party at the Paramus store, starting at 6 p.m.
Crayfish, cheese, shrimp, boiled potatoes and other items will be $9.99 a person, $2.49 for kids. Advance tickets are recommended.
An employee on the breakfast line this morning said the free breakfast is designed to lure customers into the store on the slowest day of the week.
But you can also see it as IKEA trying to make amends for driving customers crazy with all the furniture that requires assembly.
IKEA Food, 100 IKEA Drive, Paramus; 201-843-1881.
Restaurant-cafe hours: 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Mondays-Thursdays; 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays. Closed Sundays.