Shopping and Dining on Main Street in Newark, Delaware
Restaurant Row: Main Street remains a culinary—and retail—destination.
Cheeburger Cheeburger owner Albert Lora
Photograph by Tom Nutter
Situated on the corner of Haines and Main streets in Newark, the silver L-shaped diner has been a landmark for generations of Newark residents and University of Delaware students. It was Jimmy’s then Jude’s then the Korner Diner.
Many students just call it the “Newark Diner.” No matter the name, the distinctive building has been a beloved destination for greasy spoon bloggers and diner aficionados across the country.
So when the Korner Diner closed in 2008, some feared the structure might only live on in their memories. Not to worry. Last year, the building became the new home of Cheeburger Cheeburger.
The diner is ideal for the chain, which focuses on all-American classics: burgers topped with everything from pickles to peanut butter, thick shakes, fries and crispy onion rings. Yet for Albert Lora, principal owner, the diner’s location was as appetizing as its appearance. “I’d been looking for something in Newark,” he says. “I love the hometown atmosphere of Main Street.” (368-1105, cheeburger.com)
Lined with shops, boutiques and restaurants, Main Street’s mix of demographics attracts both independent businesses and well-known national chains. Families, for instance, primarily make up the customer base at Ali Baba, which opened on Main Street 11 years ago. “They come from Pike Creek, Avon Grove, Dover—even Baltimore,” says Bashar Albarouki, co-owner. The restaurant recently expanded to accommodate more diners hungry for falafels, kebabs and strong Turkish coffee. (738-1111)
Ali Baba is one of the restaurants that make Main Street a culinary melting pot. In January, Larry Chen opened Banh-Mi Boy near South Chapel Street. Chen, whose family owns Saigon Restaurant in the Newark Shopping Center, gets credit for finally bringing bánh-mì to Delaware. (Call it a Vietnamese-style hoagie, only lighter and livelier.) The original version includes ham, pork roll and French pâté, but you can also order your baguette with roast pork, Vietnamese-style meatballs or even fried tofu.
“It’s a brand new product for Newark, and people like it,” Chen says. He’s hoping to add soups, including pho, a noodle soup. For now, he says, “we’re taking it one step at a time.” (525-6145, banhmiboy.com)
Banh-Mi Boy joins another Asian newcomer, Joann Buffet. For $6.50 for lunch or $8.50 for dinner, you can dig into as much lo mein and chop suey as your chopsticks can handle. (Carryout buffet is available.) (737-4288, joannbuffetnewark.com)
By fall, there should another Italian contender in the mix. Carl Georigi of Eclipse and Capers & Lemons fame has been searching for a Main Street location for three years. He plans to open the 124-seat Taverna, which will feature rustic, traditional dishes. “We’ve been developing this concept for years,” says Georigi. “We’ve traveled to Italy to research the history of what tavernas and trattorias mean to the culture and the towns.” (platinumdininggroup.com)
Local, independent owners like Georigi are increasingly sharing the street with chains. Last year, Newark witnessed the opening of Chipotle Mexican Grill, which specializes in tacos, burritos and salads. (861-8002, chipotle.com)
And because Newark can apparently never have too many pizza places, Papa John’s slipped into the old Cereal Bowl site. (738-1777, papajohns.com)
Breakfast is still covered, however. IHOP, which had originally considered Cheeburger Cheeburger’s location, is flipping stacks at 108 E. Main St. (737-7816, ihop.com)
The new red brick building at 108 has tempted two established Newark retailers to pick up and move. E.C. Shades relocated from its original shop near Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant. The store, which sells sunglasses, is smaller than its previous location but closer to the university action, says manager Jennifer Rayner. (266-7858, ecshades.com)
Heart and Home, previously in the Newark Shopping Center, also moved to the new building. Owned by Charlene Bertheaud and Nina Sneeringer, Heart and Home specializes in brands like Vera Bradley—students use totes as book bags—Pandora jewelry and Tervis Tumbler products. (737-8980)