The opening of the Elbow Room restaurant on Halsey Street in Newark two years ago was a day filled with optimism as New Jersey’s largest city’s drew comparison to the gentrifying borough of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Elbow Room on the corner of Halsey and Bleeker Streets in Newark opened in 2012, but closed less than 18 months later. What happened remains a mystery.
Former New York Giants Super Bowl Champ Michael Strahan and Giants (now Oakland Raiders) defensive end Justin Tuck, partners in the business with restaurateur Joel Bolden, joined then-mayor Cory Booker for a lavish grand opening that seemed to signal the inevitable Brooklynification of Brick City.
It was Bolden’s second Elbow Room, the first opened at 267 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, down the street from the Barclay’s Center.
“I wanted to be at the forefront of the Newark food renaissance,” Bolden said at the time. “I love the history of the city, I love Halsey Street - it reminds me a lot of Brooklyn.”
Well the love was short-lived. The restaurant today is shuttered with a sign on the window advertising the space. The restaurant actually closed over the summer with the promise that it was reopening.
“Mac Lovers! We are closing Elbow Room Newark for the summer... We will return with more flavors/energy/love Monday, August 25th! Thank you for your support!” read one post on its Facebook page. (We’ll forgive whatever millennial wrote the post for over using exclamation marks!)
Alas mac lovers, it appears that you will have to find another eatery to fulfill your desire for overpriced starch and fat unless you take up Elbow Room’s invitation to get your mac on in Brooklyn.
“Miss us in #newark? Come join us at our #brooklyn location in #prospectheights! #macncheese #yum #meatballmac,” reads another Facebook post. (We'll forgive that millennial for hashtagging #yum, too)
What happened to the Newark location remains a mystery. Emails sent to the firstname.lastname@example.org address listed on the company's websitebounced and the phone at the Elbow Room Brooklyn just rang and rang.
It’s unlikely the location will remain vacant for too long. It’s in a highly desirable corner spot across from the new Prudential Financial office tower and the former Hahne’s department store, which is being converted into artists’ lofts.
Perhaps Elbow Room should have waited a few more years to open in Newark for the starving artists, who have been known to live on Ramen noodles and mac and cheese, albeit the kind that comes in 99-cent boxes.