Former McFarlan’s Chef to Open New American Restaurant in Former McFarlan’s Merchantville Storefront

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Omega Ellis will bring Omega’s to the former specialty grocery shop at the corner of Park and N. Centre Streets in the borough.

By Matt Skoufalos | January 28, 2022

Omega Ellis. Credit: Omega Ellis.

Two years after Pete Burgess and Janet Stevens closed down McFarlan’s Market, their corner grocery in Merchantville, one of the key members of their kitchen will be opening her own business in their former location.

Omega’s, the chef-driven American café from Omega Ellis, is slated for a spring or summer 2022 opening at 27 North Centre Street in Merchantville.

Ellis, a Pennsauken resident who spent four years in the MacFarlan’s kitchens in both Merchantville and Collingswood, said the full-service restaurant that bears her name will offer American food with a twist.

“[It’s going to be] definitely a different experience from what you’re used to,” she said.

“I want to bring a different experience, an eclectic experience, to Merchantville.”

To Ellis, that means putting her own spin on familiar comfort food dishes for lunch and dinner service. She’s playing her menu close to the vest, but dropped hints about some signature dishes—like seafood macaroni-and-cheese balls and shrimp and grits—and hinted at the possibility of Sunday brunch.

In addition to her experiences at McFarlan’s, Ellis traces her roots in the kitchen to Corinne’s Place in Camden City, a popular soul-food destination, where she began her culinary career at age 14.

“I’m not a stranger to the kitchen,” she said.

Omega’s will feature bar and table seating for about 40 patrons, plus space for a jazz band that Ellis hopes will create some dinner atmosphere on weekends. Details are still emerging, but her father, percussionist Raymond “Beans” Ellis, is on the short list of acts to appear.

“I have a lot of treats on the menu,” she said. “Our stomachs will be very happy, and our ears are going to be very happy. It’s going to be a great experience.”

Stevens, who said she and Burgess are working with Ellis to get the space fitted out as a full-service restaurant, said they’re eager to see what she can bring to the borough dining scene.

“It’s always been a dream for her,” Stevens said. “We just thought the spot lent itself better for a restaurant than anything else, so it’s kind of worked out. We’re excited that we’re able to help her out and get going.

“We’re really looking forward to it,” she said. “We’re hoping to try to get more people downtown.”

McFarlan’s Market owners Pete Burgess and Janet Stevens inside their Collingswood shop. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

Ellis said she knows borough residents will be eager to see the corner storefront activated again, and is hopeful that her efforts can help generate interest and activity in its commercial corridor.

“I am what Merchantville is waiting for,” she said.

“I hope that I can be that trendsetter, and bring some things back to Merchantville, where it will open up for people to want to do this type of thing,” Ellis said.

“There’s room at the table for everybody.”

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