(NEWARK, NJ) -- On March 9, 2022, Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Melba Wilson announced that the restaurateur will bring her signature Melba's Restaurant to downtown Newark, with the opening of Melba's 550 in 550 Broad Street later this year.
The new restaurant will occupy the former First National State Bank space in the historic building, with its own, all-new entrance on Broad Street. The restaurant will offer seating in the original bank vault, providing a unique dining experience. Melba's will also have a separate coffee shop with a takeout window on Broad Street. Details on the restaurant's menu and design are still evolving, but Melba said they hope to have the restaurant open in late 2022.
"For nearly two decades, people near and far have traveled just to experience Melba's world-class cuisine and impeccable customer service and we will now have this opportunity here in Newark, New Jersey. As Mayor, I am honored and proud to have Melba Wilson bring her exquisite and contemporary style of soul food to our great city," said Mayor Baraka. "This new dining experience and its significance of location in the Harriet Tubman Square neighborhood is a landmark statement and it will add much value to our residents and to our city's future growth. Thanks to Fidelco Realty Group, we will embark on this new culinary journey together, that will only enhance Newark's vibrancy and flavor. I am more than confident that this new location will be a premier destination for residents and visitors to create lasting memories and enjoy food that will feed their bodies and comfort their souls."
Melba Wilson is the founder of her eponymous Melba's Restaurant in Harlem, New York City's premier comfort food destination. Since 2005, Melba's has been combining great food with remarkable service and the trademark warmth that has made Melba Wilson a renowned restaurateur.
"I eat fried chicken; you eat fried chicken and from that, we'll build a unique experience that brings everyone together - we're going to combine our minds and change lives," said Melba Wilson. "This is a very exciting moment for us; a Jewish guy from Newark and a Black woman from Harlem are showing that we all have so much in common through our love of food, family and community. The new restaurant will be in Newark, of Newark, and for Newark."
550 Broad Street is owned and operated by Fidelco Realty Group, the developer of 1 Washington Park, 494 Broad Street, 15 James Street - Audible's Innovation Cathedral, RockPlaza Lofts and other landmark Newark commercial and residential renaissance projects. The building is undergoing significant renovation and is positioned to be a business hub and restaurant destination for the neighborhood.
"The addition of Melba's to 550 Broad's roster of tenant's speaks volumes about this building's significance to the Harriet Tubman Square neighborhood," said Marc E. Berson, Chairman of Fidelco Realty Group. "From the moment we met Melba, I knew we were going to do something special together. We are gut renovating the lobby of this historic building and constructing a new front entrance from Broad Street that will align with the back of the building to create a public thoroughfare for the neighborhood."
Architect David Rockwell of the award-winning Rockwell Group will be participating in the design of the new restaurant, ensuring that the space is truly one of a kind.
"Hospitality is about creating a welcoming space where food can be shared with family and friends," said Mr. Rockwell, Founder and President of Rockwell Group. "Melba and I have been dear friends for many years. She was an inspiration to me and many others during the pandemic as she advocated for outdoor dining and the central place restaurants have in our neighborhoods. Melba understands the importance of gathering people around a meal and the sense of community that dining out creates. The Newark location of Melba's Restaurant will be a lively destination in this burgeoning city. I'm also thrilled that with this restaurant, and with Melba and Marc as partners, that I'm working for the first time in this wonderful city."
"It has been a very long time since a new, major restaurant has come to Newark and I can think of no one better to do it, than Melba Wilson," said Mr. Berson.
Fidelco Realty Group is an owner-developer of residential, commercial and industrial properties primarily located in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Ohio. For over 45 years, Fidelco has been an active investor in properties which require rehabilitation, repositioning and/or environmental remediation, restoring these properties for the benefit of local communities. Recognized for its diverse portfolio of properties, Fidelco has been a leader in redevelopment as well as new construction projects, with those completed or under development encompassing millions of square feet of property.
With a focus in Newark, Fidelco renovated the 400,000 square foot 1 Washington Park office tower and worked hand-in-hand with Rutgers University to build a world class business school housed within the high rise. Additionally, Fidelco developed award-winning projects like the 494 Broad Street office complex and parking garage in Newark, Audible.com's Innovation Cathedral headquarters, and the state-of-the-art, 140,000 square foot FreezPak freezer warehouse facility in Elizabeth/Newark.
Melba Wilson is the proud and sole owner of two Harlem based businesses: Melba's Restaurant and Melba's Catering. In addition, she is a partner at the newly relaunched Wollman Rink in the heart of Central Park and a recently announced project in Newark, NJ. Being born, bred and buttered in Harlem, Melba knew she wanted to stay close to home so she could nurture and provide an exquisite yet comfortable dining experience to the community that raised her. On any given day, you can find Melba greeting guests (including neighbors and global celebrities including Prince Harry & Meghan Markle, Zendaya and Tom Holland) with hugs, her trademark smile and inquiring of her customers as to whether there is anything she can do to enhance their dining experience.
Outside of the kitchen, Melba is an accomplished author, philanthropist and notable television personality. In 2016, she released her first cookbook, Melba's American Comfort: 100 Recipes from My Heart to Your Kitchen. Melba is a member of the Board of Directors of City Harvest, Opportunity Charter School, NYC & Company and God's Love We Deliver. She is also President of The New York City Hospitality Alliance and Co-Chair of New York City's Mayor Eric Adam's COVID-19 Recovery Roundtable and Health Equity Task Force. Melba appears regularly on national news and talk shows such as Live with Kelly and Ryan, Good Morning America, 60 Minutes, The View, Today and CBS Mornings.
Based in New York with offices in Los Angeles and Madrid, Rockwell Group is an interdisciplinary architecture and design firm that emphasizes innovation and thought leadership in every project. Founded by David Rockwell, FAIA, and led by David and partners Shawn Sullivan and Greg Keffer, the 250-person firm merges performance and architecture to create extraordinary experiences and built environments across the globe. Inspired by theater, technology, and high-end craft, the firm creates a unique narrative for each project, ranging from restaurants and hotels, to cultural and educational institutions, to airport terminals, festivals, museum exhibitions, and Broadway sets. Projects include Somewhere Else (The Beach at Atlantis); the FUTURES exhibition at Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building (Washington, DC); Nobu hotels and restaurants worldwide; Moxy Hotels (Times Square, Chelsea, East Village, and South Beach); W Hotels worldwide; The Perelman, a new arts center in New York (Restaurant and Lobby Interior Architect); the 93rd Oscars; and the pro-bono projects DineOut NYC and OpenStage NYC. David Rockwell's newest book, DRAMA, was published by Phaidon in May 2021. Honors and recognition include the 2016 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design for She Loves Me; two Emmy Awards for production design for the Oscars (2021 and 2010) the AIANY President's Award; the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award; and the Presidential Design Award.