Caribbean cuisine is getting a spotlight at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s forthcoming food manufacturing hub later this year.
The new development is set to host six eateries of popular local Brooklyn restaurants at Building 77 and provide about 250 new food service jobs. Two of those shops are Caribbean restaurants The Food Sermon and Grandchamps — serving Vincentian and Haitian foods respectively, and combined will provide 22 jobs.
Chef Rawlston Williams who owns the cozy Crown Heights eatery The Food Sermon, says after being reached out by Navy Yard officials, he obliged to join their new venture when he learned that he could follow a manufacturing dream he originally sought before opening his bistro.
“That was the total game changer to be honest — what I’m most excited about is the fact that we actually will get to do what we initially wanted to do,” said Rawlston.
When he first opened his restaurant he set out to focus on catering, but following multiple patron requests he remodeled his business more into a restaurant-style to accommodate the community. But now in the new manufacturing hub, Rawlston can showcase his offerings.
“In all honesty, our initial plan was to be a catering kitchen, so now we’ll be do catering and manufacturing of our hot sauces and juices as well which is a wonderful thing.”
The owners of Grandchamps, a Bedford-Stuyvesant-based Haitian restaurant, said they are hopeful of their new prospect and a shot at showcasing the island’s food to new customers, and also thrilled to be a part of the new project highlighting ventures from people of color.
“Obviously, we are super excited and nervous but this is definitely an opportunity that we are excited about,” said Sabrina Brockman, who owns Grandchamps with her husband.
“The coolest thing about the project is that we are not going to be the only Caribbean market or restaurant there, and we are really proud of the Brooklyn Navy Yard for including our people and minority businesses in this.”
Brockman said they expect to serve Haitian breakfast and quicker food options to accommodate the pace of the Navy Yard workers. But most importantly, she said being able to introduce Haitian food to Brooklynites unfamiliar with it, was her primary goal.
“For us, we are excited to give Haitian food a much bigger platform,” she said. “My biggest hope is to expose more people to Haitian food and culture and show another side. We are kind of putting Haitian food on the map and showing that it should and could be a household name.”