The New York Times ran a fascinating piece on old businesses, many of them food and drink related, that are hanging on as their neighborhoods change around them. We see this all over Brooklyn: a deli surrounded by jerk chicken shops, an old soda fountain full of 20-year-old hipsters, grocery stores carrying foods the owners had never heard of until a few years ago.
The article mentions Michael’s Prime Meats on Flatbush, where owner Louis Savarese has adjusted to the neighborhood’s growing West Indian population by selling goat meat and oxtail.
Sam Dolnick writes:
“In a city where Jewish neighborhoods turn Puerto Rican, then African and then something else, Mr. Savarese belongs to the sparse ranks of holdouts who have held firm amid the city’s churn, even as newcomers have remade the streets around them. They dig in for many reasons: love of place, loyalty, optimism or sheer stubbornness. Nostalgia grounds some, inertia others. But all of them can still imagine, as they look out on their reshaped blocks, the neighbors and businesses that left decades ago.”
The tone of this article is comforting. It’s easy to panic about about the parts of the city that are lost due to change, and it’s worthwhile to support the independent businesses that help us remember the flavors of Brooklyn’s past. On the other hand, Brooklyn has always been evolving as new waves of immigrants arrive from around the world, and it’s an exciting place to live because of all the hands that have touched it.
As Ivy Brown, an artist from the Meatpacking District, told Dolnick,
““If you embrace this city, you have to embrace the fact that it’s not going to stay the same.”
To read the rest of the article, including a great section on an Irish bar in overwhelmingly Chinese Sunset Park, click here.