Caribbean restaurants poulate Brooklyn.
The mom-and-pop eateries run the streets, opening two to three flagship locations across the borough but none have expanded their resume quite like Tropical Paradise.
Tropical Paradise Restaurant opened in 2001 featuring the deliciousness we crave such as jerk wings and macaroni pie. Seven years later, owner Dave Gayle, Jr. listened to his audience and opened Tropical Paradise Ballroom. “After being in the restaurant business since 2001, we opened up a banquet hall seven years ago,” Gayle said.
The East Flatbush native has always operated as an entrepreneur. Starting out in his community working in the grocery stores, Gayle worked his way into working with his father in the meat business.
Juggling his position in the meat business with his father during the day, Gayle’s day would not end, as he would head to Riker’s Island for the midnight shift as a member of New York City’s Department of Corrections. “I used to juggle two jobs — I used to work with my dad during the day time and then the midnight shift on Riker’s Island.”
The serial entrepreneur attributes much of his success in the juggle of three businesses to his wife and loyal employees – a few having been with Tropical Paradise for 14 years.
Watching the neighborhood change over the course of the years, Gayle utilizes his good business sense to always cater to his audience – much like the decision-making he used in opening Tropical Paradise Ballroom.
“As the neighborhood starts to change, you get a lot of people who are very inquisitive about Caribbean food. I feel that it’s very competitive but once you do your homework and get the right cooks and market your product effectively, there’s room for growth,” Gayle said.
Gayle is a true believer of following the dream. The proud father of four does not intend on grooming any of his kids – ages ranging from three to 27 – to take over the Tropical Paradise empire.
“My daughter works in Dubai. She’s a manager of Abercrombie & Fitch. My younger daughter, she’s in college, infectious disease is her major. I firmly believe in following your dreams. If your dream takes you to be a certain place then follow it,” he explained.
Already retired from New York City’s Department of Corrections, Gayle’s achievements are a testimony to what he believes in.
New businesses are opening right and left and Gayle hopes his success can teach younger entrepreneurs that their dreams can be achieved.
“I’m a living experience, a product of East Flatbush. I grew up in this neighborhood and everything that I’ve done was pretty much surrounded by this neighborhood. I’ve lived in this neighborhood and worked in local grocery stores in the community. Worked with my dad until eventually I opened my own business and worked at corrections at the same time,” he said.
There is more in the works for Gayle and the Tropical Paradise empire. The next item on his list is to expand Tropical Paradise Ballroom with an outdoor space in the form of a rooftop space. “One of my next ventures that I’d like to take on is to put a rooftop on top of that building. Outdoor space is very limited and there are a lot of requests for outdoor space, so we’re looking to adding an extension onto the building,” he said.
Dance the night away at the ballroom or grab some food from the restaurant, Tropical Restaurant is an East Flatbush staple primed to continue dominating the business for many years to come.