Dutch Boy Burger looked ready to go this evening when I walked by, with chairs and tables in place and my favorite sign in the world hanging on their wall. The folks at Nostrand Park did a nice photoshoot in the old-timey spirit of the place, too.
Just in time for their opening, the Brooklyn Paper ran an interesting, if somewhat unsurprising, article making the case that gentrification is now led by culinary establishments, their proprietors, and their patrons. The piece traces a familiar pattern: transplants arrive and feel their new nabe lacks that certain something, they open or attract a coffee shop/brick-oven pizzeria/bar, a few more places are inspired to open, and pretty soon an unlikely strip is a culinary destination. Lost in the shuffle is the transient diversity of a neighborhood in the midst of gentrification, and perhaps also the establishments that longtime residents patronized.
I've posted about these issues before, and I think the author does a good job balancing the story and exploring the nuances (some residents resist change, while others create business/improvement organizations and actively recruit restauranteurs) inherent to the situation. On the whole, I think food, as long as it's not too expensive (Abigail gets jabbed at the end of the article for being "just too pricey for the locals") is as open and inviting a path to change as possible, and my faith has thus far has been borne out by Franklin Avenue's newest additions, the coffee shops (Lily & Fig, Breukelen, and Pulp & Bean). They attract diverse crowds, their owners actively promote community interaction, and the vibe, though different in each, is positive. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the loss of neighborhood staples, like the closing of The Spice is Right, removes nodes of community interaction and creates the feeling of being pushed out that so many people in gentrified communities express.
One final thought: while the article was good, the supplement, "Where to Eat Off the Beaten Path," didn't cut it. Only one mention for Crown Heights, and it's the Glass Shop on Classon? I like the Glass Shop just fine, but come on now, Brooklyn Paper--I know you've got people out this way, come have a look around on Franklin!