City Applauds Comeback Cafe

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times Staff Writer

Steve Martins, New Bedford’s Ward 2 city councilor, right, joins in applauding a speaker during an economic development announcement at M&C Cafe in the city’s North End. City officials and others gathered at the cafe Wednesday to celebrate its reopening after a fire damaged the restaurant last November.JOHN SLADEWSKI/The Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD — The city Wednesday officially welcomed back one of its premier eateries — the M&C Cafe at 436 Belleville Ave. — almost a year after a serious fire shuttered the popular Portuguese family restaurant and meeting spot in the North End.
With much fanfare and a host of public officials and representatives from the city’s emerging “creative economy,” the M&C formally returned to business with a ribbon-cutting and speeches.
Mayor Scott W. Lang used the occasion to unveil a new “New Bedford Storefront Business Guide” for smaller merchants interested in navigating available municipal services and increasing marketing expertise.
He also praised the growing collaboration between the city’s three business groups that operate in addition to the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce. They include the North End and South End business associations and Downtown New Bedford Inc.
The mayor also described strategic planning under way for three commercial areas, including the Acushnet Avenue/Upper Harbor, South End/Route 18 Gateway and historic downtown. These three compose the major business districts for the city.
Despite the multitude of announcements accompanied by poster boards and detailed reportage from officials in and out of the Lang administration, the event belonged to the M&C Cafe, its owners Michael Melo and his mother, Catherine Mello, and its 41 years of history in the city.
The M&C Cafe had more than four decades of history when fire just after midnight Nov. 30, 2007, was reported at its location at Belleville and Phillips avenues.
Firefighters are credited with confining the worst of the damage to the bar area, with the dining room suffering mostly smoke damage.
Among those in attendance Wednesday were city Fire Chief Paul Leger and representatives of R.P. Valois & Co., the builder that did the rebuilding and remodeling after the fire.
Mayor Lang sounded much like a restaurant pitchman talking about the M&C having “great food and reasonable prices” and being a place where anyone from a “bank president to someone working in a factory” would be comfortable.
The mayor’s best line may have been that for the price of a “tip in Boston” one could get a complete meal at the M&C and be certain to have enough food to take some home.
“Spend your money in New Bedford,” the mayor admonished. Mayor Lang noted that the M&C during the time the restaurant was closed because of the fire expanded its catering business and is now a more diversified business.
Ward 2 Councilor Steven Martins, whose ward includes the M&C, said the area in which the restaurant is located has not gotten much attention but is home to some of the city’s best restaurants.
Ward 1 Councilor Linda M. Morad, who also represents the North End Business Association, said she “applauds Mike and his family for continuing to put folks back to work.”
Mayor Lang used the M&C reopening as a springboard to talk about the city’s partnership with the business community. Mayor Lang said organizations such as the business associations and chamber need to work together and with the municipal government to “fight the way through” the current economic malaise.
He said the city’s planning and other departments were working with the New Bedford Economic Development Council on comprehensive planning for business districts and other areas.
Matthew A. Morrissey, NBEDC executive director, said in addition to the storefront business guide there are programs available with low-interest loans and other assistance for businesses. “Every job is an important job,” Mr. Morrissey said.
Contact Joe Cohen at
November 13, 2008
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