I was coming home on the train today when I read in the News that a group of businesses at Park Place & Flatbush, including El Gran Castillo de Jagua & the Benoit barbershop, are losing their leases and must vacate by next month. The venerable El Castillo, a Dominican restaurant, has been at the corner of Park & Flatbush for almost forty years:
We’ve lost our business,” said 63-year-old Sergio Olivio, holding back tears inside El Gran Castillo de Jagua.
“I wanted to retire after finishing work here, but now it seems like I will have to work someplace else to make a living,” added Olivio, who said he plans to fight the expulsion in court.
Benoit's has been on Park Place even longer:
“I feel helpless,” said Sylvain Benoit, the 62-year-old owner of Benoit Barber Shop. “It just seems like there is nothing we can do about it. Only people who have the money make the law. There is just nobody to talk to for help. You work your whole life in one place, and then one day the landlord comes and just kicks you out on to the sidewalk.”
According to the News, no details about the developer-owner's plans for the site, which will displace at least five businesses - have been disclosed.
An attorney representing Vlacke Bos wouldn’t answer questions about the plans, saying her client was flying internationally and couldn’t be reached for comment.
Almost a parody of a statement, but no, that's the tone of things these days.
After reading the story, I headed over to Little Miss Muffin 'N' Her Stuffin', one of the other businesses to be kicked out . The Trinidadian patty & muffin shop has maybe the best patties in the city (reliable patty experts bear me out on this), & has been serving them out (along with the muffins) for twenty years. At a couple of bucks a patty, this is affordable food for all incomes, an increasingly rare commodity around here The mood in the shop was somber. Little Miss M will be closing on December 28th. Hopefully, they'll be relocating to a different address, most probably on Washington, and if you go to visit soon (the jerk chicken patty is a thing of beauty) you can get on the mailing list to receive updates about their new shop. There's a long list of names & addresses already - testament to the love its customers feel for the place. But the whole deal here stinks - another story of small, family businesses pushed aside, replaced by the unremarkable, the unaffordable, the unspeakable. The true wealth of the city counts for nothing.