With CNBC Show “Consumed,” Harlem Restaurant Melba’s Serves A National Audience
Picked from 24,000 New York City restaurants, Melba’s in Harlem will make its television debut and show the world what its kitchen is made of.
Melba’s, owned by Melba Wilson, has been serving American comfort food and exceptional service since 2005. And because foodie’s from all over the world seek Wilson’s cuisine, the restaurant caught the attention of CNBC and will be featured on Consumed: The Real Restaurant Business, premiering on May 13.
The show, according to a press release, is an eight episode docu-series that will also focus on four other restaurants including: The Meatball Shop – a city hot spot with multiple locations; Ann & Tony’s, a multi-generational Bronx restaurant that is struggling to fill seats and preserve its family legacy; Vermillion, an upscale Indian fusion establishment with locations in Chicago and Manhattan; and Seamore’s, a starter seafood restaurant, which will soon open in downtown Manhattan. The show will chronicle each restaurant’s struggles and triumphs. And Wilson explained that viewers will be given a glimpse into her daily life as a restaurant owner and will be surprised at how much work goes into “making a first impression.”
“The show revolves around the extremely competitive food scene here in New York and viewers will really see how everything is under a microscope in this city. They will also see what my staff goes through to give our customers a positive eating experience and while we make it look seamless and easy, behind the scenes there are obstacles that we must overcome,” Wilson says. “There is never a second chance to make a first impression and the show features what we need to do to get it right the first time and give the customers what they deserve – which is the best food and the best experience possible.”
With Melba’s being just one component of the show, Wilson has come to respect the other businesses that will appear along with hers. She says it is often difficult to take the time to think about what other restaurant owners are struggling with and through this experience she says her eyes have been opened to the commitment that these four establishments have to their customers and to their families.
“This is an amazing show that is giving the public an inside look at the struggles, trials, and tribulations that our businesses go through and it’s important to highlight that because we are all people that are just trying to make it – and at the same time trying to preserve a family legacy,” Wilson says. “It just goes to show you that we all suffer bumps and bruises but at the end of the day that is a real component of the restaurant business.”
While Wilson was initially surprised when CNBC asked her to be a part of the series, she had to remind herself that the budding empire has made quite a name for itself since opening its doors a decade ago. And with its tremendous success, she says her business has currently reached capacity and is ready to expand – which will challenge her to not only run the day-to-day operations, but to also step up what she currently has to offer.
“With every decision I make I weigh the pros and cons and question what I am getting, versus what I am giving up. So when I signed the lease for the space next door I had to decide if this was going to be a stepping stone for me or a stumbling block. I ultimately decided to utilize the new space and this decision will not only affect me as a single owner, it will also affect my staff, and the community as a whole,” Wilson says. “We reached capacity quiet a while ago and it’s terrible to have to turn people away especially when they are coming from different cities or countries to eat at my restaurant. So, it was the best decision to go ahead and take a leap of faith and get the space.”
For Wilson, who has worked at a myriad of famed restaurants like Sylvia’s, Rosa Mexicano and Windows on the World, the additional space will offer patrons more of the “Harlem swag, charm, and lifestyle” that they are looking for.
“I like to say I was born, bred, and buttered in Harlem and there is just no other place in the world like it. When you talk about Harlem, everyone knows exactly where you are talking about and I’m proud to be able to be a part of the rhythm, the pulse, and the beat of this community, ” Wilson says. “Harlem is also all about inclusiveness, which is what I have built Melba’s around as well. When they think of my restaurant, I want people to have a warm and comfortable feeling, and also a sense of inclusion so that when people are coming from other countries – or even just the Lower East Side – they feel that aura and that inclusion. The new space will give people a firsthand look at what Harlem is all about.”
And with the show airing in just a week, Wilson is looking forward to her television debut. She says she has only seen a few snippets of various episodes, but she is confident that her story will contribute much to the food conversation across the nation.
“At first I was very nervous about being a part of the show, but at the end of the day I’m comfortable in my skin and I make no excuses. Everything that I am, and everything that I have been through has allowed me to be as successful as I am and even the bad times have elevated me and my business,” she says. “I love the fact that there was nothing held back during the taping of this show and I was accompanied by my amazing staff and the crew and this network are very well respected and they put me at ease. And now my experience is here for the world to see and I’m ready.”