Ground Floor at The Boogie Down Grind
When asked whether her coffee shop carries the stigma of gentrification, Majora Carter points out the irony of that question, reminding New York that “coffee is the blackest drink in the world.”
The Boogie Down Grind, owned by Carter and fellow Bronx native Sulma Arzu-Brown, is, in fact, the rare third-wave coffee shop where black faces sit at the top of the business and in every window-side seat, not only on the packages of beans shipped in from African farms. In the year since this bright pocket of a cafe opened in Hunts Point, Brown and Carter have taken every step they can to build the space into a pillar of local ownership.
While some may bristle at their use of the phrase “self-gentrification,” both women are uncompromising when discussing what motivates them. The decision to open the Boogie Down Grind was influenced heavily by surveys collected outside local businesses, asking locals what kind of business was missing from the neighborhood. The frequency of “coffee shop” not only spoke to Brown and Carter’s belief that everybody wants and deserves access to quality of life, it also was one the most practical means of creating that access on their terms.
The cup of coffee that emerged from their vision is just the start of their vision for business development in the Bronx. While hip-hop-themed frappuccinos do not a revolution make, the Boogie Down Grind—by aligning every detail to the idea that a local business should be owned by, operated by, and attentive to the history of local residents—creates a space and a future intent on including their lives in it.
Through September 1, Edible Bronx is collaborating with Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn, Edible Queens, and the Staten Island Advance to debut 30 new one-minute videos about food and life in New York. Subscribe to 1 Minute Meal to see food films from all five boroughs.
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