Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Melba Wilson announced today 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.

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