Inaugural Newark First Fridays kicks off downtown on May 5th

After months of planning and a crowdfunding campaign that raised nearly $3,500, Newark First Fridays will kick off its first season when it launches downtown on May 5th. The festival will take place on Halsey Street between Warren and New Streets from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Newark will hold its first-ever downtown living tour in May

What is it like to live downtown Newark? Soon, those who are curious will have an opportunity to get a glimpse of downtown living for themselves.

Better Bites Newark announces its closure

places_cardHealth food restaurant Better Bites, which was located at 1186 Raymond Boulevard near the corner of Broad Street, announced that it will shut its doors for good via signs in its window.

Better Bites’ health-conscious menu included wraps (wheat only), quinoa, salads, hummus, soups, smoothies and (relatively) guilt-free desserts. The takeout restaurant catered to a mostly corporate crowd downtown: they kept breakfast and lunch hours from Monday through Friday, and wrapped up by 4 p.m.

loyal patrons

Their statement to patrons read:

Dear loyal patrons,

We regret to inform you that Better Bites Newark is now permanently closed. The staff, management and founders thank you for your continued loyal patronage over the past 5 years.

A new operator of our location will roll out a new concept and menu within the next few weeks.

Look out for a relaunch of Better Bites in the near future.

If you need further assistance you can reach us at vj(at)

Thank you Newark!

We’ll post updates as we learn details about the new concept and Better Bites’ plans for the future.

Underground Skate Shop flagship store grand opening is Saturday, June 18th at noon

Underground Skate Shop will celebrate the grand opening of its new flagship store this Saturday, June 18th at noon. The 1,500-square-foot shop is located at 145 Halsey Street downtown Newark.

The shop was founded in 2010 in Ridgewood and then expanded to a location in Nutley, and has been a driving force behind the New Jersey skate scene. With more than 200 decks (that’s the wooden part of a skateboard) on hand at all times as well as footwear and apparel, it should be a welcome addition to the burgeoning downtown district and Halsey corridor.

Be sure to stop by Saturday and say hello to owners Mark and Clint, who reported on the shop’s Facebook page recently that their official first customer beat everyone to the punch by showing up a couple days early.

A traditional German beer garden prepares to open in Newark this spring

Hycide Magazine will celebrate its eighth print edition, ‘The Survival Issue,’ at Newark Museum on Saturday Feb. 27

culture cardOn February 27th, photojournalist and filmmaker Akintola Hanif will introduce the eighth print issue of his photography magazine Hycide, which explores subculture, art, and conflict through images and words. The launch event is free and open to the public, and will take place at Newark Museum from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Dubbed “The Survival Issue,” the latest edition of the magazine will include stories about the Georgia King Village housing projects in Newark; the favelas of Brazil; the Tenderloin District in San Francisco – known as a haven for the homeless; the story of Aziza Kibibi, a new Jersey woman who bore four children by her biological father (who has since been sentenced to 50 years in prison for raping her); and Cory “C-Blaze” Hamlet, alleged leader of the Grape Street Crips who was arrested earlier this month, among others.

“Hycide is about challenging elitist ideals and illustrating what’s really going on in the minds, hearts and lives of some of America’s finest yet forgotten people,” said Hanif. “Through stories of survival and freedom, our goal is to create understanding and empathy for the misunderstood while providing a visual and literary voice for the voiceless.”

The event will open with an Islamic prayer at 6:20 p.m. sharp. Guests will be able to tour the museum’s galleries, including their latest exhibition: Wondrous Worlds, Art & Islam Through Time & Place, which features more than 100 outstanding works of art showcasing the long history, vast geographic expanse and diversity of works of art in the Islamic world.

Drea dNur (Drea d’Nur), Unin Vited and Khalil Jibran will all be on hand to perform, and Ezrakh and DJ Hard Hitting Henry will spin music throughout the evening.

Guests will also enjoy catering, fresh pastries, cream liquor samples, a beer and wine bar, complimentary henna tattooing, head wrap instruction, oil, incense and body care product giveaways. Hanif and Newark Museum director Steven Kern will address attendees about the issue and the museum as part of the program. Attendees will be able to buy limited editions of the print magazine at the event.

Featured image by photographer Shawn Theodore

Curated vintage clothing and lifestyle shop opening at The Gateway Project in Newark

culture cardSince its launch last year, Gateway Project Spaces has been home to art exhibits, a culinary show, writing workshops, parties, and performances.

Now the spaces will add a new category to their roster: vintage clothing shop.

The new Reginald Parks Men’s & Women’s Vintage Shop will open at Gateway Project Spaces, located on the main concourse of 2 Gateway Center, next Friday, February 26th. The shop is the brainchild of Peter Winstead, Jr, who is both an accomplished recording artist and the creative director of brand strategy firm The Honors Program, which has produced the successful Guard d’Avant festival for two years in a row at Military Park (the festival will return this summer), and curated music events and programming for the 2015 Open Doors arts festival, The Gateway Project’s Winter Fête, and the Newark Business Hub’s launch event.

The name of the shop is an homage to two of Winstead, Jr.’s personal heroes who together represent the top tier in commerce and taste: Reginald Lewis, the first black person in America to build a billion-dollar company, and Gordon Parks, a renaissance man of the arts who was the first black American to direct and produce major motion pictures.

Although Winstead, Jr. and the Honors Project are perhaps best known for music and event production, Winstead, Jr. actually worked first as a fashion stylist, as a marketing consultant for brands like And 1, and in sales and management for high-end labels and boutiques including Schott Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and Pieces NYC. “Its been a long-time dream for me to one day open my own shop, and now here we are!” he said in a recent email announcing the pending opening.

In a callback to his music and event production chops, Winstead, Jr. will also be infusing his own taste into a curated series of live music and other events, one of the benefits of co-locating his shop at The Gateway Project, he said. (Another: direct connection to Newark Penn Station, which offers potential channel to customers and audiences further afield of Newark.) The February 26th kickoff event, dubbed “The Kickback,” will feature live music performances and DJs.

In the runup to launching, Winstead, Jr. has hosted a series of “Cocktails and Garments” preview events at the location on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. With music, cocktails, and Winstead, Jr. himself on hand to walk patrons through the various vintage sartorial choices available at the shop, the events are meant to project the vibe of store once it’s fully launched.

Reginald Parks Vintage Boutique is located at Gateway Project Spaces, Suite 201 in 2 Gateway Center.

Voices of Newark’s past at ‘We Found Our Way: Newark Portraits from the Great Migration’

black history month cardIt was opening night of the Newark Public Library’s Black History Celebration. There was a dynamic keynote speaker, John W. Franklin, from the soon-to-open Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Delicious hot food was prepared by Eclectic Catering. Live piano music played by the talented Miche Braden filled the air. Once gathered together, the Black National Anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” resounded through the library’s Centennial Hall as we all sang it together.

And yet the real stars of the evening were those who had come before us: the voices and images of the Krueger-Scott African-American Oral History Collection.

The opening exhibit, entitled “We Found Our Way: Newark Portraits from the Great Migration” wound around the spacious second floor of the library. Dr. Samantha Boardman, guest curator, had gathered together images and recordings from the 1990s oral history project which collected narratives from over one hundred of Newark’s African-American citizens, many who had come North during the Great Migration.

IMG_0660In the glass display cases were photographs of the narrators and the interviewers, as well as other historic images and artifacts of Newark. One could put on a pair of headphones and actually listen to excerpts from those oral histories which had peers interviewing peers in people’s homes, churches, and even City Hall. In addition to the display, an assemblage of paintings and drawings by African-American artists such as Elizabeth Catlett lined the walls between the marble columns. Exhibited as well was a selection of stunning glass books created by Rutgers-Newark students under the guidance of Adrienne Wheeler and Nick Kline. The students’ work was inspired by listening to the Krueger-Scott oral histories.

Catherine J. Lenix-Hooker was there to celebrate. Ms. Hooker, the director of the original project, said she was thrilled to see its results made available to the public, excited to have these voices heard by so many. In fact, a website has just been created through Rutgers University which will allow anyone access to the recordings on site.

All of us in attendance last night were glad we had “found our way” into this special moment. It was affirmation that while Black history may get a bit more attention in the month of February, it is truly part of the fabric that is our nation’s history and thus must be paid attention to each and every day of the year.

The exhibit will be on display at the library through April 9, 2016. Please visit the Newark Public Library’s website for its calendar of Black History Month events and projects.

All photos: Katie Singer

SHE Boutique offers area a women a taste of contemporary trends on Halsey Street

business cardSurrounded by new restaurants, businesses and ongoing construction, Halsey Street is a microcosm of Newark’s growth potential. The street is located in one of the city’s most desirable locations and serves as a prime area for economic and cultural growth. For SHE Boutique owners Tina Owugah and Lanel Lundy-Pascal, a window on Halsey street serves as an introduction of their brand to the blooming city.  

With a 25 year friendship between them, Owugah, a clinical trial head at Novartis pharmaceuticals, and Lundy-Pascal, a former executive secretary at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, are match made in small business heaven. Both women had the itch to start a business, but couldn’t decide on what to do.

“My partner [Lundy-Pascal] and I had been thinking about opening a business for a while, but we weren’t sure what to do, until this opportunity just fell in our laps,” said Owugah.

Prior to SHE Boutique becoming a reality, 83 Halsey street was home to Luxe Boutique, a women’s consignment clothing store. Owugah, who patronized the braiding store below her current location, was intrigued when she encountered the store boarded up on more than one occasion.

“I have been taking my kids to the braid shop here for  years. And one day, I came to visit and I asked ‘What’s going on with the boutique upstairs, why is it always closed?’” said Owugah.

“I asked the landlord to call me, and he said that they were in the process of moving the former tenant out. I said as soon as that’s sorted out, please call me. Just knowing the construction that was going on, with Prudential and the growth on Halsey Street and the growth in Newark, period, especially in the downtown area, the space was perfect,” she continued.

Decorated with a plush zebra skin rug and racks of figure-hugging dresses and custom-made ankara ensembles, SHE Boutique posits itself as the fashion destination for anyone looking for original clothing pieces from local Newark designers, as well as affordable, trend-driven contemporary options.

After a seven-month wait for the former occupant to completely vacate the location, Owugah and Pascal-Lundy were tasked with making SHE Boutique the destination it is now in a very short time.

“It took us literally like two months to kind of get in here paint, do what was necessary, like get some equipment and supplies, get things going, promote, and open.” said Owugah.

In nine months, the location quickly transformed from a space in transition to a fully stocked clothing boutique and fashion destination.

In addition to serving as a boutique, sometimes Owugah and Lundy-Pascal transform the Halsey location into a miniature runway to promote local designers like Anthony Eastwick and Bariel Dean. The owners plan to expand the store, but not in the way most will expect from a fashion boutique. SHE, which is also an acronym for Spiritual Healing and Empowerment, moonlights as a women’s group that aims to work with women “from the inside out”.

According to a statement released by the owners, fashion is only the beginning of SHE boutique’s journey.

“We want to not only be a boutique, but also a very strong presence in the community that offer promotions and special events to help uplift and support all women.”

SHE boutique is located on  83 Halsey St. Newark, NJ. For more, visit their Instagram page.

Newark History Society will hold opening reception for 350th anniversary exhibition

newark celebration 350 cardThe Newark History Society has announced the opening reception for an exhibition entitled Newark at 350: Settlement, Growth, Renewal and the launch of the program series Newark Lifetimes: Recollections & Reflections. The reception will take place Tuesday, January 19th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Newark Public Library.

The Settlement, Growth, Renewal exhibit is curated by Thomas Ankner, a professional genealogist and librarian of the Charles F. Cummings Information Center at the Newark Public Library, and traces Newark’s history from its founding 350 years ago to the present the day.

The Newark Lifetimes series will feature local author and historian Guy Sterling in conversation with several notable Newarkers, including attorney Donald Karp, who also once served as vice chairman of Independence Community Bank and chairman and CEO of Broad National Bank, and Dr. Victor Parsonnet, who pioneered cardiovascular procedures here in New Jersey.

Those who plan to attend the opening are encouraged to RSVP to