New York City Council Member Farah N. Louis last week joined elected officials and community residents in celebrating the grand re-opening of two Caribbean restaurants in her East Flatbush, Brooklyn district.
Suede Restaurant and Tropical Paradise Cajun Seafood Restaurant re-opened, with much fanfare, on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, after closing for several months amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“When we support immigrant, women and minority-owned small businesses, we are reinvesting in ourselves and creating opportunities for the next generation,” said Louis, the Haitian American representative for the 45th Council District. “Every dollar that circulates in our small business community helps preserve the economic vitality of our city, cultural diversity, job and housing security.
“We are surviving one of the most challenging times in recent memory,” added Louis, a member of the City Council’s Committee on Economic Development. “These past four months have proven that we are resilient and able to overcome any obstacle in our path when we work together.
“I am excited to welcome back two Black-owned businesses that have overcome tremendous obstacles, re-envisioned their business models; and, as a result, remain right where they belong – in the heart of our community,” Louis continued.
She said Suede Restaurant, renowned for its charitable work, re-opened its outdoor dining area on Thursday after serving as a main hub for distributing food to essential workers.
Louis said its grand re-opening was “a dual celebration” of its perseverance “in spite of the COVID-19 public health challenges while customarily recognizing our city’s educators, who recently completed an unprecedented school year due to the pandemic.”
Chasen Hollancid and Chaka Bomani, co-owners, Suede Hospitality Group, said in a statement that “the Suede Family was happy to host our 3rd Annual Educators Thank You Celebration in tandem with our Grand Re-Opening Celebration.
“2020 has been a tough year for everyone, but we need to take opportunities like this to reinvigorate the community, support our essential workers and celebrate our shared Caribbean culture,” they added. “Like every small business, we have had to rethink how our business would function in this new COVID world.
Hollancid and Bomani said they appreciated the support and partnership of Brooklyn Community Board 17’s Commerce Committee; the small business support non-profit Brooklyn Level Up, Inc.; and elected officials, such as Louis, her City Council colleague Alicka Ampry-Samuel, and Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, who is also chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
“Our business’ vision has always been focused on creating a beautiful dining experience for the Caribbean community to feel welcome,” Hollancid and Bomani said.
“It is gratifying to know that, even in this time of social distancing, we can still find safe ways to keep Suede and the community connected, in accordance with state and city guidelines,” they added. “Suede will continue to be a welcome home for the community to dine and enjoy Caribbean cuisine.”
Louis said Suede Restaurant was the first in a series of small businesses, more specifically restaurants, to once again serve delicious meals, infused with Caribbean flavors, in the span of one week.
On Saturday, local patrons and residents gathered to celebrate Tropical Paradise Cajun Seafood as it re-opened its doors to the public.
In the preliminary months of the pandemic, Louis said this restaurant provided meals to frontline workers “who fought tirelessly to save lives.”
The council member said this newest Cajun seafood-inspired edition to the Tropical Paradise family is the result of “looking at how to differentiate Tropical Paradise’s presence in the local Caribbean restaurant community.”
Davis Gayle, owner, and Linden Clarke, director of operations, at Tropical Paradise, thanked the East Flatbush Community for supporting Tropical Paradise Restaurant & Ballroom for 19-odd years.
A number of community leaders and officials were on hand for the official re-opening of Tropical Paradise Restaurant at 888 Utica Ave.
They comprised Louis; Bichotte; Hassan Bakiridden, chairman, Community Board Commerce Committee; Sen. Kevin Parker; Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke; Assemblyman Nick Perry; Allyson Martinez Brooklyn Level Up Consultants; and Community Board 17 District Manager Sherif Fraser/
“We look forward to continue serving the community and all our customers,” said Gayle and Clarke in a statement. “We couldn’t do it without your support!”
Bakiriddin said Community Board 17 Commerce Committee was “proud to present our series of grand re-openings for our local small business community.
“We look forward to continuing to look for innovative ways in which we can help increase the revenues of our small business community, especially after the devastating effects of COVID-19,” he said.
Rachel Goodfriend, co-founder, Brooklyn Level Up, said her non-profit organization was “excited to partner with Suede Hospitality Group and Brooklyn CB17 (Community Board 17) on a successful Suede Grand Re-Opening Celebration and Educators Thank You Celebration, as well as Tropical Paradise’s Grand Re-Opening.
“We believe that uplifting the community by closing gaps to knowledge and funding access, providing industry-relevant toolkits, building networks and partnerships, as well as simplification of government rules and regulations for the small businesses and residents with whom we work, will make the difference in ensuring that people of color remain and grow here,” she said.
“Without breaking down those barriers to entry and providing continued support and economic development initiatives, we would lose the people and businesses that have kept the East Flatbush Caribbean community connected and strong,” she added.