Supporting local businesses has never been more urgent. Last year, United partnered with the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau to help out the makers and entrepreneurs (particularly women and people of color) who make New Jersey’s largest city unique. Here are four of our favorites.
The first gallery to open in Newark’s West Ward, Akwaaba focuses on contemporary works by emerging regional and global artists. “For us, art is the ultimate sign of love and dedication to a community,” says co-owner Laura Bonas Palmer, who runs the gallery with her husband, Ray Palmer. “We wanted to be a part of building a community that we call home.” The gallerists have continued to show new work during the pandemic, posting virtual 3-D exhibitions online while operating the physical space at reduced capacity. akwaabagallery.com
Off the Hanger and ANĒ Clothier
Two fashionable Newark natives, Lynette Lashawn and Anita Dickens, share this eclectic downtown boutique. Off the Hanger’s Lashawn offers statement-making dresses and flashy sweatshirts that burst with Brick City pride, while ANĒ Clothier’s Dickens sells ready-to-wear unisex pieces and camo fieldwear. This year, both brands added a new accessory to their inventories: handmade face masks with matching head scarves that come in an array of bright colors and bold patterns. off-thehanger.com, aneclothier.com
Black Swan Espresso
One of the city’s first third-wave coffee shops, Black Swan opened downtown in 2017. The café, which focuses on medium-roast beans, hand-ground coffee, and homemade baked goods, has earned a dedicated following among the city’s movers and shakers. “I really enjoy the community engagement,” says owner Laura Mashtaler. “The mayor comes in. And so many meetings have gotten done here—people huddled at little tables figuring out what the business of the city is going to be.” Black Swan is currently selling its Brick City House beans online and accepting food and drink orders for pickup. bse.coffee
All Points West Distillery
Husband-and-wife owners Gil Spaier and Evelyn Kalka honor Newark’s history of alcohol production—before Prohibition, the city was home to more than 20 breweries—by making smallbatch gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey at their distillery in the Ironbound. Their whiskey, a USA Spirits gold medal winner, is an Irish-style pot-still whiskey made with American corn—a type of spirit that hadn’t been produced commercially since 1908. allpointswestdistillery.com