NEWARK — After serving 33 years as an officer, Sam Siino is trading in his badge for a spatula.

The 67-year-old Newark Police Department retiree and his wife, Liz, have opened Suite 304 Bar and Restaurant in the city’s Central ward, the same neighborhood where Sam Siino was raised along with six siblings.

“We grew up poor, but Newark was always good to me” Siino said. “I got a job here and an education here… (That’s) why I wanted to do this.”

Until 2015, the space on University Avenue was home to Skipper’s Plane Street Pub, a popular bar that featured live music. The Siino couple spent two years giving the building a makeover, from replacing the floor to fixing the kitchen’s sink.

Speaking alongside the owners, Mayor Ras Baraka called the work put into the restaurant “heartwarming” and said he is excited another business is moving in.

“It warms my heart to be able to come back into this space because I would drive past it and see it closed down,” Baraka said. “I’m glad that you’re doing this.”

Baraka, a spoken word poet, said he frequented the old pub with his parents to listen to live jazz and blues. The new space, he said, mixes Newark’s past with its future.

“We don’t want to have a city of giant chains. We want to have a city mixed with creative and imaginative places,” he added.