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Wilson's Live in South Jersey creates vibes of sophistication, positivity and fun

Black Business Month: Wilson's Live
Black Business Month: Wilson's Live 03:07

CAMDEN COUNTY, N.J., (CBS) -- All month, CBS News Philadelphia is celebrating Black Business Month. People who enjoy live music often travel to Atlantic City or Philadelphia. In Hi-Nella, Camden County, a couple had a dream to create a local, live music venue.

At Wilson's, the dream has become a reality.

South Jersey has tons to offer its residents, with very few exceptions, but one of them just so happens to be upscale live music venues when there just aren't many.

"Lived here for about 16 years, and was just tired of going to Philadelphia or Atlantic City for live entertainment," owner Mame Wilson said.

Wilson, who immigrated to the U.S. with her mother and four sisters from Senegal in the late 90s, and her husband Mark sought to bring just such a venue to South Jersey.

"We talked about it, started looking at places and this came about," she said.

The Wilsons purchased the building in 2019. Next came the seemingly neverending process of applying and waiting for licensing and permits. Then, COVID stopped them in their tracks.

Once they cleared that hurdle, they were faced with sky-high building costs, but they persevered and in November 2021, they finally opened the doors to Wilson's Restaurant and Live Music Lounge.

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"When we opened those doors, I was elated," Wilson said. "I was happy. I was proud."

She describes Wilson's as, "a premiere entertainment space."

"For three days a week, we have live entertainment, we have a brunch, we have a comedy show, so, it is a whole entertainment venue," Wilson added.

Not surprisingly, it's been a big hit.

"Me and my wife, we don't live too far from here and we said, 'God, I wish somebody would come here and put together a place that we ain't gotta cross the bridge,'" Timy James said. "And sure enough, Wilson's came."

"Wilson's, first of all, I love that it's Black-owned," Toshiana Burroughs said. "We don't have a lot of that around here so it's nice to see, and the vibe is grown and sexy."

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The overall vibe is sophisticated, positive and fun, and the music moves you.

The food, courtesy of new Executive Chef Emili Medley -- who you may know from two different seasons of Hell's Kitchen -- is delicious and elevated. Then there's the artwork Wilson used to own an art gallery in Haddonfield.

"What makes me go is that someone to walk through those doors and say to me 'Thank you for being here,'" Wilson said. "It matters that you're here."

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