3:45 AM: Amal “Molly” Kaydouh gets up in the dark. Padding around her North Arlington apartment on this Tuesday morning, she reaches for one of her five identical red shirts appliqued with the Nevada Diner’s logo, along with a black apron, leggings and, crucially, non-skid shoes. She brightens the ensemble with sparkly earrings and painstakingly applies makeup, because appearance counts.
Driving to the diner in Bloomfield, she stops at a Dunkin’ Donuts for an espresso and smokes a single Salem menthol in her car. By 6 am she’s on the job, cleaning every surface in the back room—tables, booths, saltshakers. She makes pots of coffee and restocks bins of ketchup packets and plastic Cream-O-Land containers.
And then she waits.