What’s New Downtown? Mark & Omar of Paula’s Soul Food Cafe

For twenty-eight years, Mark Woods had worked for Marriott, doing pretty much everything under the sun to make sure guests were always happy. While working his way up the company from chef to event/banquet planner, he dreamed of putting his hard-earned skills to use for himself.

A dream he answered with his partner Omar Bailey when they opened their first Paula’s Soul Food Cafe in the Bronx – named after Mark’s late aunt. Instantly, their place became an absolute must-try in the neighborhood thanks to positive word-of-mouth. To build on the success, Mark and Omar were trying to find their next location when fate stepped in. A random lunch in Downtown Hackensack turned out to be an unexpected opportunity when the owner was looking to sell the place.

Four years later, thanks to the help of The SACK Business Alliance and 10,000 flyers, Paula’s Soul Food Cafe has carved out its own special place within the Downtown community. People come from all over to try their signature dish, Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens and Fried Chicken. Unlike the Bronx, patrons have the option of dining-in at this Main Street location, along with being treated to Mark’s lively banter.

“The familiar faces are part of the spirit here,” said owner and operator, Mark Woods. As a tasty pillar of the community, Mark takes pride in not ever closing, even for one day, during the pandemic. He is also looking to hire locally and always shops at the local Giant Farmers Market.

Mark has also been excited by the recent changes in The SACK. With the new residential buildings opening up, a two-way Main Street, and future local events, he sees it all as an opportunity to introduce more people to a taste of his authentic soul food cuisine.

– Discover more @paulasoulfoodcafe on instagram.