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What brought you to Brooklyn in the first place?
I grew up in Queens, then I went to Fordham University in the Bronx. But being that my dad was born and raised in Park Slope, and also that I’ve worked at the store since I was a kid, Brooklyn has always been my second home.
What’s the most inspiring or exciting change you’ve witnessed in Brooklyn over the past few years?
The growth of small businesses, from bars and restaurants to furniture makers and craftsmen/women of all types. The civic pride customers show by shop-ping locally is inspiring. It’s an awareness that one hand MUST wash the other in order for us all to grow together.
And the most worrisome?
The lack of structural integrity in some areas, most particularly North Brooklyn. It’s somewhat of a “wild west” and Williamsburg is the “mining town.” I’m not completely against growth, but I’m definitely for a more responsible version. Everyone points fingers at Park Slope, scoffing at their attempt to preserve as much of its historical aesthetic as possible. I admire it and wish other areas would somewhat follow suit.
What now-closed Brooklyn business do you miss the most?
Black Betty on Metropolitan and Havemeyer. Used to go for the Moroccan food but stay for the parties. It had a great 10-year run. Friends and I affectionately called it “Sweaty Betty’s.” Many a late night spent there dancing til the wee hours of the morn. Always great music playing. From Reverend Vince’s residency to Brazilian night to amazing DJ’s playing old school hip hop, it was never a disappointment.
Under what circumstances, if any, would you consider leaving Brooklyn?
A bright shiny gun to my head. Kidding of course. Fortunately, my feet are planted on solid ground and my girlfriend and I are looking forward to spending the next few chapters of our lives here. Maybe when it’s time to retire 50 years from now, we’ll share our time in New Orleans. That place has a small piece of our hearts.
Ten years from now, which more-recently opened Brooklyn businesses do you think will have made enough of a mark on the community to be considered as part of the next wave of Brooklyn Institutions?
It’s tough to say. I’m proud of so many business owners and I’m rooting for them to succeed, not just because they are my customers. I think that The Brooklyn Kitchen/Meat Hook are well on their way, they’re no newbies. (Est. in 2005.) They’ve helped rewrite the script on food consumption by making it fun and interesting and inspired other businesses to do the same.
Now we’re going to ask you to list a few favorites:
Neighborhood, other than your own: Coney Island. A day there with my dad as a kid was perfection.
Restaurant: Convivium Osteria, with St. Anselm a close second.
Bar: Pete’s Candy Store.
Coffee Shop: Gimme! Coffee.
Park: Olmsted’s masterpiece, Prospect Park.
Old-school Brooklyn institution: Peter Pan Donut Shop.