I spoke with Rong Ge, "legendary" owner of the building that's housed K-Dog, Enduro, Lincoln Park Tavern, Blue Roost and Papa & Sons over on Lincoln Road just west of the Flabenue. There are those who think she's been more nemesis than hero on that block, but she IS the owner and for those who care about the future of that oh-so valuable commercial real estate near the train station, it's pretty clear she knows more than anyone what stores are in store, and so I asked her..."what gives?"
First, the big news. Papa & Sons will not be a bank, so don't withdraw all your money from the Chittybank just yet. Rong's signed a lease with an "upscale" grocer who she wouldn't name, but she's confident after visiting the proprietor's other stores in Manhattan that they will do a tremendous business and that it will be "just what the neighborhood needs" for that spot. We can expect a few months of renovations, and Ge feels the place is in terrible shape even structurally, but needless to say there will be much joy in some quarters. The new Lefferts Manor "Echo" is out, and Milford Prewitt writes a nice eulogy to Papa's owner Francisco and his brother who were the "sons" of the bodega's name. It's a bit heartbreaking, but luckily the brothers still have their other joint across the Flautobahn.
Things are moving forward, too, with the new biz moving into the old Blue Roost/K-Dog space. I was going to keep my bloggy mouth shut but people have already dropped the news on the listserves that a couple local PLG guys are opening a sleek shop to add a retail location to their successful catering business. They too are awaiting reno permits, and I would imagine we'll be seeing doors a flappin' by late fall/early winter. I'm glad to hear the owners are neighbors. More power to mom and pops, or pops and pops as the case may be, or even moms and moms (like lovely but out-of-the-way Lark on Church Avenue. Nice sammiches ladies!)
Which begs the question: why all the turnover? As you can imagine, it depends on whom you ask. Beleaguered suds 'n' grub joint Linkin' Park Tavern, formerly Enduro's and formerly formerly Fly Fish is clearly not enamored of the terms of their lease, so say thirsty barflies with keen hearing. There's some talk that when Ms. Ge doesn't like the way you conduct your business, she gets testy. Perhaps that's why some of the turnover, but hey when everyone's making buckets of cash I'm sure bygones stay bygones. But it also may be true that Rong is a bit of a perfectionist and she doesn't like half-ass businesses, which in this blogger's opinion is what you experience when you drop in for an overcooked burger and mediocre fries from a business owned by the once legendary Jim Mamary. Even in 2009 his star had faded, and he moved to NJ according to this piece, leaving day to day operations of his eateries to surrogates. I used to love Jim's first big hit - Patois - on Smith Street. He was there every night with his chef partner and this being the mid to late 90s he was the only bourgie game in town over in Carrol Gardens. Mrs. Q and I would luxuriate long into the evening over something French to eat and drink and kiss. Patois closed in 2008 only to jump the shark, or river, into Little Italy. It promptly closed there too. In fact many of his joints closed without warning, and if you were good at those SAT tests that say A is to B as C is to D you can probably finish this sentence...Linda of Blue Roost cited problems not of Ge's making. In fact, it sounds like a certain partner (who might that be?) was not forthcoming with his part of the investment. And K-Dog, well, Gaby did have nasty things to say about Ge, and she's still smarting from them, but hopefully that's all water under the bridge for the former coffee shop owner who's moved on to better and happier things.
So who really knows? Alls I can say is maybe it's not such a bad thing to see turnover up there. Maybe everyone learned something from the first round and a new day, along with some sweet pastries, will rise. And there's a cute spot moving in next to Gino's, details when I get them. So who among the Pinot Grigio set can possibly complain? By the by, the Q is sad to see Delroy's shuttered (the Panini place next to wine shop 65 Fen) - it never really found its nosh niche, and the "provisions" shop that was to cap Michael's empire seems to have lost its food footing as well. It's probably time to check in with him and see what up.
Still, for my money, the most exciting strip in Caledonian Flatbush is neither Lincoln Road nor Fennimore, but rather Clarkson to Parkside, which boast the most varied, frenetic and truly New York bunch of shops you can imagine. Even the Dunkin Donuts and Duane Reade and Subway feel uncorporate in this setting. And you know what? My family has patronized all but maybe two of the twenty or so shops on that little stretch (I simply AIN'T gonna get a tattoo at Envy Nails. If I do get one, probably of my favorite band Linkin' Park, dude), I'm heading up the Flabenue a couple blocks). Soon, I gotta write something about Don, who's also known as Peter, who runs the Glen Hardware/bicycle shoppe...
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.