Food & Drink

Famed chef Marcus Samuelsson officially opens new restaurant Marcus B&P in downtown Newark

d1de926504c57b927311_MarcusSamuelsson1200x800.jpg
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson at the grand opening of his new restaurant, Marcus B&P, on Halsey Street in Newark. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
d1de926504c57b927311_MarcusSamuelsson1200x800.jpg

Acclaimed celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson knows what he wants and he knows how to get it.

He helped Harlem, long the hub of African-American culture, become happening again with a pair of successful restaurants that are contributing to the revitalization of the famed Manhattan neighborhood.

Samuelsson is rolling the dice by opening a new restaurant in Newark, now undergoing its own revival.

Sign Up for E-News

But for the culinary king of Harlem, coming to New Jersey's largest city is no gamble. Instead, it's a sure thing. 

"It's easy to be drawn to Newark for things that I've been drawn to - the diversity, the music, the Ironbound, to the amazing food here," Samuelsson told TAPinto Newark at the jam-packed official opening debut last week of Marcus B&P, located at 56 Halsey Street on the main lane of a downtown Newark, now exploding with new life after decades of dormancy.  

"We're just adding on in the neighborhood one more establishment that can help be here for the community," he said.

Judging from the jam-packed crowd at Marcus B&P, which had its soft opening several weeks ago, the arrival of a Samuelsson-run restaurant to Newark is not just adding on on more establishment to Halsey Street. 

Waiters balanced trays of Samuelsson's signature fried chicken, mini-cornbread and brick-oven pizza through a sea of people spilling out into the hall outside one of the restaurant's door.

The pedestrian walkway was transformed into a pulsating club, with a party jazz band driving crowd members to dance. The open bar serving craft cocktails such as the Newark Jump Off - a combination of ginger whiskey, shaved nutmeg, ginger infused syrup, and house-made sour mix - also helped let the good times roll deep into the evening. 

Several of those attending the Marcus B&P party—the restaurant name a reference to the Swedish concept of “back pocket,” an accessible and casual place—believe that the new dining spot will further open up Newark for after-5 p.m. fun. 

"This means we'll have a nightlife," said Marty Weber, owner of the Green Chicpea restaurant, just steps away on Halsey Street. "Places like this keep the stores open, and gives me the hope that I can also stay open later."

"We need vibrancy and nightlife," said Rosa Hyde, who works in the arts education department of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC). "We had it before downtown, but it's been a while. I'm hoping it's back." 

"Newark has been getting better, and it's been drawing in more people," said Jim Pise, who came down from his Clifton hometown to watch his son play in the jazz band. "This is a good sign of that happening." 

"I really feel like this is it for Newark. Someone like Marcus being here means so much to the community," said Andres Jimenez, who runs a branding and marketing firm in Newark that designed the logo for the new restaurant. "He brings an amazing energy and an international flavor to the city. He connects everything and everybody. That's why I'm here." 

The hype that halos around Samuelsson is backed up by facts that together make for a great life story. 

Both in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden after being separated from his family during his homeland's civil war, Samuelson, 46, became interested in cooking from an early age. He worked his way quickly up the gourmet ladder, becoming the executive chef of the celebrated Aquavit restaurant in Manhattan by the age of 24. 

During his tenure as executive chef, he received an impressive three-star rating from the New York Times, the youngest person ever to receive such an accolade, as well as his first of five James Beard Awards. An international restaurateur, he has 32 restaurant locations spanning the United States, Sweden, Norway, and Bermuda. 

His best known restaurants in America, Red Rooster and Streetbird, are both in Harlem and are devoted to imbuing African-American comfort food with a range of global culinary influences. A prominent example of this multicultural mix on the Marcus B&P menu is the fried chicken served with plantain waffles, Escovitch vegetables and hot honey. 

Samuelsson's surge into Newark is another part of his building an epicurean empire.

The building that he chose to place his new Newark restaurant is both iconic and symbolic: the recently refurbished Hahne & Co. building. The 1901 building is a landmark of Newark's storied past that was left for dead, then brought back to life as a repurposed multi-use building that combines living spaces with retail, academic and public spaces.

Marcus B&P faces the Halsey Street side of the building, while the upscale Whole Foods market faces the Broad Street side. 

The Hahne's building is directly across from the recently-renovated Military Park, which is now ringed by the NJPAC, a refurbished Robert Treat Hotel, the new Prudential Tower and a Starbucks coffee shop, with other development projects in the works. It is two blocks away from Rutgers-Newark, which just opened a new bookstore in the Hahne's building.
 
Marcus B&P's entry into this explosion of redevelopment led some of the opening night partygoers to pause and reflect about if what is happening to downtown Newark is revitalization, or gentrification. 

"There are different layers and levels to this which depend on income and accessibility to housing," said Gary Campbell, 59, a photographer and videographer who lives in the city's North Ward. "If you're doing well, this is not gentrification. It's the good part of Newark that's developing. But if you're uneducated, or you're homeless, or you live in one of the outer wards, it's the same story, basically. Nothing has changed." 

"Can these people in the outer wards of the city, can they get the jobs they need to afford living in Newark, including down here? Do they get the education they need to get those jobs? That's the biggest question," added Campbell. "And whatever's happening at those levels, it's not happening with the same speed and energy that you see in this environment here. This is real, but it's not real for everybody." 

According to native Newarker Jerry Gant, however, Marcus B&P's role in transforming the city is especially real for those who have been here for decades. 

"I'v seen how things rise and fall," said Gant, 56, who watched Newark burn as a little boy during the 1967 riot that almost destroyed the city's civic fabric. "This is more than a rise. This is something that has been germinating for 50 years for those who paved the way and sacrificed so we could see the manifestation of that rise. And here we are." 

Samuelsson said he is in Newark to stay. 

"This is a humble journey. We're here to take care of the food and to make people happy," said Samuelsson before he went back to watch over the kitchen. "To me, success is to open, then learn the neighborhood and be a part of it. This all takes time."

"This is not a New York City restaurant. This is a restaurant in and of Newark, from its staff, from its core, and its culture," Samuelsson continued. "It's all about your work ethic. Getting up in the morning is pressure. I work really hard to create something that people want to be around. Hopefully people can enjoy their community through our restaurant. We wouldn't be in Newark without this community. And now we're a part of it." 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Police Blotter

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Gun-wielding suspect drives robbery victim to bank with two young children in tow

April 11, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers police are investigating a lunchtime robbery on Tuesday in front of Campbell Hall, 617 George St., on the College Avenue campus, which involved two young children and a trip to a Somerset Street bank.

The victim, who is affiliated with Rutgers University, reported that he was walking near Campbell Hall dorm at 12:30 p.m. when a vehicle, ...

South Brunswick: Mayor Killmurray’s Funeral Plans Announced, Township Prepares For Administration Change

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Township officials announced funeral plans for Mayor Christopher Killmurray and plans to deal with filling his position and a second one on the Council.

Killmurray, 55, died at home Sunday morning after battling brain cancer for several years.

According to the township, a viewing is scheduled for 3-7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church at ...

South Brunswick: Mayor Christopher Killmurray, 55, Dies

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – Township Mayor Christopher Killmurray died at home Sunday morning, officials announced.

In an alert to residents, Township Manager Bernard Hvozdovic said that Killmurray, 55, passed away at home surrounded by his family after battling brain cancer for several years.

A Democrat, Killmurray was first elected to the Township Council in 2003 and served as deputy ...

Op-Ed: New Jersey’s Out-of-Network Bill is a huge blow to the middle-class

April 11, 2018

As Trenton currently looks to balance the budget, once again it’s our state’s hardest working citizens who will be left holding the bag. This time, though, it will be the hardworking office and ancillary staff from our small business private medical practices.  A bill called “The Out-of-Network Consumer Protection Bill” A-2039/S-485 looks poised to make ...

The Truth About My Reading

The Truth About My Reading

I didn't get my Composition and Literature teacher at Montclair State College at all. A crusty old man with a dour disposition, Mr. Smith always seemed angry and rude. He appropriately intimidated freshmen, even me, an English major, who found this common core course beneath my dignity. Frankly, as a graduate of Highland Park High School, and a survivor of Mrs.

The German Girl

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa (Washington Square Press, 2016)

For each of the twelve million victims murdered during World War II there is a gutwrenching story to be told. I have read hundreds of memoirs, biographies, plays, and novels that recount the stories of the martyrs; some are exceptional, some are fair. The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa, an award-winning journalist, ...

State Attorney General Releases Princeton Panera Shooting Video

April 9, 2018

TRENTON – The Attorney General’s Office today released surveillance footage related to the March 20th shooting at Panera Bread in Princeton, New Jersey, during which state troopers fatally shot Scott L. Mielentz, 56, of Lawrenceville, N.J.

The shooting remains under investigation by the Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team (“SRT”).  However, certain ...

April 12 Webinar "Are You Stressing Your Horse Out?

Dr. Williams will be hosting the webinar "Are You 'Stressing Out' Your Horse? Understanding Types of Stress & How to Manage or Reduce Each."

The presentation will be next Thursday, April 12th at 12:p.m. To join the webinar go https://demo.bigbluebutton.org/b/rooms/ca-70ef9c13/EquineStressWilliams prior to the meeting. 

Test your connection early to ensure ...

Somerset: KPS Garage Offers Spring Time Special

Don't let the weather fool you Spring is here, and KPS Garage is offering a special new and existing customers!

1) Freewheel alignment with the purchase of four tires

2) Spring has Sprung Special $29.95

Change oil & filter 
Free tire rotation
Free 30 point safety inspection

exclusions apply

3) Free pair of Bosch wiper blades with any service or ...