Celebrity chef and T.V. personality Marcus Samuelsson has announced his plans to open a restaurant in Newark in 2017, in the same building that the new Whole Foods of Newark will be located in. Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia and was raised and studied cooking in Sweden. He started working at the Restaurant Aquavit in New York, of which he eventually became executive chef of. From then on, Samuelsson worked his way up in the food industry- he opened a second restaurant, won the title of “Best Chef: New York City” in 2003, and published multiple cookbooks. He also was a chef at the White House for the first State Dinner under Obama’s presidency.
Samuelsson has been featured on Food Network as a judge on the cooking competition show Chopped, the competitive show Iron Chef America, and now owns a successful restaurant in Harlem, New York, which he opened in 2010. He believes that he can use food as a tool to change the community and make a social change. In New York, Samuelsson saw areas of the city that were underwhelmed with good food choices– he introduced two of his restaurants to Harlem in order to promote the idea that good food does not need to be limited to currently developed areas of the city. Samuelsson is applying that same idea to Newark, by planning for a restaurant near the Prudential Building on Broad Street in Newark.
Samuelsson’s restaurant will be opened in what was once Hahne & Co. a large department store that started in Newark. When it opened in 1901, the store was said to be a symbol of the new age of department stores and was– and still is– considered very elegant. However, the store closed its doors in 1986 after 85 of service, relocated to Garden State Plaza, and was finally replaced by Nordstrom. The building, while still boasting remains of an elegant past, remained boarded up for almost 30 years. Recently, the space has been taken under L&M Development Partners and is now being transformed as a multi-use retail space, similar to Chelsea Market in New York City. The building will host a Whole Foods, Samuelsson’s restaurant, apartments, as well as other stores. Samuelsson is part of a larger revitalization effort to better Newark by utilizing the building’s significance as a symbol of an important era in Newark’s history. Samuelsson and the other collaborators of the space hope to foster an environment that promotes economic well-being within the downtown area and the rest of Newark.