Newark native Pat Pugliese serves me my cappuccino every morning, always excellent, at Caffe Espresso Italia at the corner of Adams and Malvern streets in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, where I live. But on this gorgeous summer morning, Pat was more than miffed. Pat was pissed.
Pat Pugliese of Caffe Espresso Italia in Newark's Ironbound
"Some guy comes in here, says it was his first time in Newark, and asked me if it was safe to eat here," said Pat, standing behind the counter of the Italian deli his family has run for more than 30 years while a half-dozen Newark police officers, all regular costumers, laughed loudly, their holstered guns shaking slightly. "I told him, 'Sure, go back outside and get robbed, you dumb bastard.’ Stupid questions get stupid answers, I always say."
It sometimes seems like the general public wants to hear the same old story told over and over about Newark. It is a dark urban tale repeated since the 1967 civil disturbances, a riot to some and a rebellion to others, nearly tore the city’s civic fabric to shreds.
Yes, the same police officers laughing inside Caffe Espresso Italia this morning are fighting the war on crime 24 hours a day in Newark. It is a fight single-mindedly, even obsessively, documented by other media outlets at the expense of painting a full picture of New Jersey’s largest city.
But a look at the lunchtime crowd at Caffe Espresso Italia vividly shows what many fail to see: businessmen, teachers, lawyers and blue-collar workers sitting side by side, telling their stories and realizing their versions of the American Dream, every day, come rain or shine, all together in Newark.
NewarkInc.com has arrived to show the world the city we love with force, dignity, accuracy and grace. We will be a watchdog, keeping our politicians honest. We won’t hesitate to show you Newark’s pain, though we'll spare you the gory details from the police blotter.
We will also not be afraid to reveal Newark’s pride, which will be displayed in our coverage of business, politics, arts and education. Tired of the same old story told about our city, we will tell Newark’s story differently, and we will do it better. We are NewarkInc.com. We mean business.
So don't worry, Pat. Keep making your coffee high-octane. Keep fueling the city's people. People here on the street can see, hear and feel the truth, no matter what. They know that Newark, once knocked down, is now reborn, renewed and ready to grow.