On Monday, a press release for a new “boozy sandwich shop” in Brooklyn went out, complete with a photo of chi-chi cocktail in front of “bullet hole ridden wall”—a wall the new owners say they were proudly keeping, but which turned out to be fake (at least the bullet holes were).
By Saturday, its Yelp page was in shambles and nearly 100 protesters turned to the shop in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to decry gentrification, the tone-deaf “marketing” of black poverty and violence, and the new owner, whose name unfortunately happens to be a version of “Becky.”
Before Saturday’s protest, there were signs posted outside of the restaurant saying “Summerhill: Racist” and “Summerhill: Make Brooklyn Great Again.”
“That’s not what the neighborhood needs,” said lifelong Crown Heights resident Ayanna Prescott, 30, said to Gothamist. “The neighborhood needs child care. It needs schools.
“And a ‘boozy sandwich shop’ with fake bullet holes is totally disconnected,” she adds.
The owner of Summerhill, Becca Brenna, a former attorney from Canada, has repeatedly apologized since the original release, but was still met with cries of “Bye Bye Becky” and signs that read, “This is what gentrification looks like,” on Saturday.
“I deeply apologize for any offense that my recent comments might have caused,” read an initial statement from Brennan. “I did not intend to be insensitive to anyone in the neighborhood, and I am sorry that my words caused pain.
Brennan also called her offensive marketing ploy “cheeky.”
She issued another letter of apology on Saturday, which read in part, “I respect the comments that I have received and I recognize that I have more work to do to continue healing relationships with my neighbors.”
Gothamist reports that between 2000 and 2010, Crown Height’s majority-black population shrunk while its white population nearly doubled, to 16 percent. And between 2011 and 2015, according to a recent DNAInfo analysis, the 11216 zip code covering parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights saw among the most significant increases in high-income renters in the city.
A Crown Heights store owner applauded the arrival of a new restaurant before giving Becky the business.
“When you’re using the challenges we have as a community to mimic us … (that) is very distasteful to the human experience,” said Tracy Reid, who opened her business 18 years ago in the historically Hasidic Jewish and West Indian community, that unfortunately lost many of its residents to gun violence.
Oh, and Summerhill also has a “40 ounce Rose” on its menu, served in a paper bag to mimic drinking 40 oz. malt liquor (something that has been out of vogue for at least 20 years, like human beat boxes in hip-hop.)
Hopefully Becks, in all her learning, will put the kibosh on that too.
Read more at Gothamist.