Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hammer Time - Changes South of EP

ILFA's been faulted for being so hyper-local that I never venture below Eastern Parkway (though, in my defense, Franklin Avenue Aromatherapy remains one of the better investigative local history posts I've done). Still, there's truth to that accusation, so today, on a tip from reader Anna (keep 'em coming, folks!), I walked down to check out Three Brothers Hardware, which is looking shiny and new on Franklin just south of Eastern. I didn't manage to talk with anyone, and they don't have a website that I can find, but it looks like it will be a classic, stuffed-to-the-gills Brooklyn hardware store, and the interior, while not ready, seems to be coming along nicely.

Having a new hardware store nearby should come in hand for the Fisher brothers as they renovate the Pioneer supermarket across the street. Closed this week for the massive overhaul, the second Bob & Betty's (named for their parents, who bought the businesses in the late 1970s) is scheduled to open in June 2012, with the same hours, decor, tastings, and fresh and local food they offer at their current location across the Parkway. It should be a nice addition to the final stretch of Franklin Avenue as it makes its way down to Prospect Park.


  1. Another store goes booshie. At least we still have the Associated!

  2. All right!!! HARDWARE STORE right around the corner! Thats nice! :]

  3. I'm interested in Tony Fisher's story. It's fascinating how he's made similar revisions to his family history as many new Americans generations back. I was surprised to learn that he's a 2nd generation Palestinian, born 'Ahmad'. Obviously, he also didn't grow up calling his parents 'Bob' and 'Betty', but now CH locals will remember them that way.

    This does make me wonder if assimilation is still necessary for success in today's America? Are people more likely to shop at 'Tony's than at 'Ahmad's? Academics nowadays say that America has become a 'tapestry' rather than the 'melting pot' of a century ago. On Franklin Ave we also have numerous bodegas and dollar stores with names inspired by immigrant's home countries which would support the 'tapestry' theory. Is the difference that "Bob & Betty's" targets more upscale shoppers than the bodegas, people who have more options about where to shop. Is the difference that Tony is of Arab descent and that puts you into a whole other category in this country, one that some may try to shirk as soon as possible?

    So many questions ...

  4. OMG. None of that matters! What matters is that Tony and his family have been here before many of us, and they will be here after us. It should not make a difference if they are Palestinian or Eskimios. They run a great store, and thats the merits they should be judged on. Tony (Ahmad) happens to be a great person. My daughers and my wife love him. In the three years we have been here there hasn't been a day he didn't say hello to me in passing. Or give my daughters free muffins when my wife goes to PandB for her chai latte.
    BTW I have a friend named Yosef, but pefers to be called Joe.

  5. I agree, Anonymous 7:09pm: "It should not make a difference if they are Palestinian or Eskimios." But while you & I think it should not, it does. Arabs are losing their businesses in parts of Brooklyn because survelliance by the NYPD is driving their customers away. I bet it didn't help that Tony's parents were Palestinian either in 1970s CH with such a strong Orthodox community.

  6. OP here. I hope no one thought I meant offense to Tony. Not at all. He's done the right thing for his business, which has been a big success in our neighborhood. I think also that Tony is open about his ancestry.

    That said, "Muhammad & Rula's" is not going to fly like "Bob & Betty's". We all know that. I just find it interesting how immigrants (and their kids) often live with what can be such starkly different identities, i.e. 'Tony' & 'Ahmad'. And there is an idea out there - for what it's worth - that immigrants no longer have to take on these kind of dual identities to make it in 2012 America. The poster above says it, 'it shouldn't make a difference where someone comes from', but I agree with the poster who followed that it does matter. If it really didn't matter, we'd have "Muhammad & Rula's" (or the actual equivalent) and not "Bob & Betty's".

    I also do wonder why the owners of "Mouzon's" and "Pena's" also on Franklin have retained the association between their foreign names and their businesses. Maybe they're not as good businesspeople as Tony? Or maybe their lower end clientele just don't care? This I also find interesting.

    And questions like these do matter. Thinking critically about our world does matter. There are direct correlations between education and people's life, liberty and happiness. So, it does matter. And I'm glad there's a space for it on ILFA (a little oasis in the middle of a shallow internet culture).

  7. Hey kids, Tony here. Just a couple opf quick points. First as always, I would like to thank everyone for your support and business of P&B and B&B.
    Now the rest. The name "Bob & Bettys" happens to be my parents real names. My grandparents on both sides came to America in the early 1900's. Back then, people came to forget about their home and start a new life in our great land. My grandparents, as did others decided that when they had kids to give them "American" names so they did (ie. Bob & Betty) so the name is legit.
    As far as "Tony" goes. I blame my 7th grade spanish teacher Mrs. Gonzalez. When she gave Spanish names to the class Henry became Enrique, Kathy became Kathia, and Ahmad became Antonio. The name stuck, it just got shorter over the years.
    I welcome anyone to further this discussion in person with me. I would love it.
    Happy Holidays to all.

  8. Hmmm, maybe the world is more complex than "people who are crushed by cultural imperialism" and "people who have the courage to remain true to their cultural identities".

    Maybe there is more than oppressors and victims. Whoa.

    Happy Festivus!