A celeb chef is about to open a restaurant that could transform Newark

Chef Marcus Samuelsson is lending his celebrity cred to downtown Newark's renaissance with a new restaurant in the redeveloped Hahne & Co. building, but details about the high-profile eatery have been scarce -- until now.

The restaurant is expected to open this fall, and the 55-seat eatery will be an entirely new concept called Marcus B&P, an all-day casual restaurant with the food made entirely in-house or sourced locally, Samuelsson tells NJ.com. 

The B stands for bar, bodega and beer, and the P stands for parlor, patisserie and provisions, but BP also refers to the Swedish concept of the back pocket -- where reservations aren't a must. "We don't want to make this hard to just slip in," he says. "People are in the area, come through. That's back pocket."

Samuelsson is an Ethiopian-born chef who grew up in Sweden and who rose to prominence as the executive chef of New York's Aquavit. A James Beard Best Chef winner and Bravo's "Top Chef Masters," champion, Samuelsson's current flagship is Harlem's Red Rooster, specializing in soul food, but he also has a global empire of eateries, from a rotisserie chicken and street food joint in Harlem to a burger bar in Chicago to a chain of globally-inspired cafes across Scandinavia.

Downtown Newark has seen a number of new eateries open in recent years, but many have been outposts of growing chains, among them Dinosaur BBQ, Halal Guys, Blaze and Wok to Walk, and a few homegrown favorites, such as BURG, the seasonal gourmet burger outpost in the redeveloped Military Park. The Hahne building is also now home to the city's first Whole Foods.

Samuelsson, however, is attempting to make a go of Newark at night, after the city empties of its workers -- Prudential, Audible and Rutgers-Newark to name three of the closest employers -- and that has traditionally been difficult for restaurants not in the immediate vicinity of the Prudential Center or NJPAC.

"We're spending a lot of time in Newark and learning about Newark as a place and how we can fit into the community," he says. "The hours are something that we have to earn ... People are going to tell us when they want us to be open. The locals, Audible, Rutgers, the person who works down the street, it's a very diverse community with different hours. It's up to us to earn it."

Samuelsson and his chefs are still developing a menu, but he says they may a greatest hit or two from his other ventures -- juicy, crunchy fried chicken from Red Rooster is likely -- and perhaps influences from Newark's famed Ironbound, the Portuguese and Brazilian community on the other side of Newark Penn Station. Expect plenty of house-made pasta as well, plus homemade bread that will also be available for purchase. Marcus B&P will also feature a craft cocktail menu, local beers and wine on tap.

Generally, there will be coffee, tea and fresh juice, bread, pastries, and grab-and-go breakfast options in the morning, with a cafe menu, bodega-style salads and sandwiches at lunch, plus provisions for the growing number of residents that are being lured by downtown Newark's residential condo and rental boom

And Samuelsson says an important element in Marcus B&P will be hiring local workers. A recent study by the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice showed that only 18 percent of those who work in Newark actually live in the city. The restaurant, he says, can be "breeding ground for young chefs," as Red Rooster has been in Harlem. "They don't have to leave Newark to work in hospitality. If we can achieve that in Newark as well, then we've done very well."

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