Meet six small businesses in Downtown Brooklyn
Get to know the faces and stories behind these local favorites.
May 28, 2019
There are many reasons to love our neighborhood, and one of them is the number of small businesses throughout the district. Whether you’re looking for great doner kebab, the freshest fashions, Peruvian food, there are businesses at the ready. Each has a different story, all call Downtown Brooklyn home, and all are integral to the area’s authentic character.
Jide’s Dandy has been a familiar mainstay on the corner of Jay and Willoughby Streets for over 25 years. Owner Jide Omo not only curates the eclectic range of menswear on offer, but has worked over the years with stylists on a number of television and Broadway shows. Born and raised in England, Jide has found a new home here in Downtown Brooklyn, and cites the area’s diversity as key to his success. Stop in to peruse his extensive selection and meet the man himself!
Coffee Project NY, a women-owned cafe, quietly opened at 78 Rockwell Place last year. Co-owners Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh have had no problems building a loyal customer base thanks to their unique brews and neighborly spirit. After getting a good feel for the area, Sum says her favorite part about Downtown Brooklyn is its ‘chill’ atmosphere compared to Manhattan. “People in this area are more understanding of the amount of time involved in brewing a fresh cup of coffee. Taking those few extra minutes enables us to put special care into our craft,” says Sum. Stop in for amazing coffee, conversation, and a relaxed vibe!
Pollo D’Oro is a traditional Peruvian restaurant at 306 Gold St. Owner Manny Santisteban was once a delivery boy at Queen Restaurant, which is when he decided that Downtown Brooklyn was the best place to open his restaurant. Fulfilling his family’s dream to bring their recipes to a wider audience, Manny is one of two chefs putting out classics such as anticuchos and ceviche. With plentiful foot traffic, he has many loyal locals, but also has customers coming from Long Island, the Bronx, and even further afield. And if you’re not sure you’ll like Peruvian food? “You won’t be disappointed!” he says. Thanks for adding some unique flavor to Downtown Brooklyn!
Brooklyn-born and -bred, Harris Salat has worked as a cook, a journalist, and authored four Japanese cookbooks! He’s been feeding Downtown’s locals since 2012, when he got into the restaurant business and opened the much-beloved Ganso Ramen. Harris has since moved on and is now the operating partner of Bigeye Sushi - the latest source for fresh sushi and bowls at 2 MetroTech. He has always regarded Downtown Brooklyn as a prime location for an eatery. Stop by for a tasty bite and the chance to meet Brooklyn’s very own, Harris. “We’re a local place… born in Brooklyn, like me - before that was a cliche!”
Located in the heart of sunny Downtown Brooklyn, W.C. Art & Drafting is a hidden gem with a lot of history. Owners Walter Chin and his wife, Kam, opened the store in 1972. Serving Downtown Brooklyn now for almost 50 years, W.C. was first located exactly where it stands today, but in a brownstone building that was demolished to make way for MetroTech. Selling a range of arts and crafts supplies, they also offer school supplies, test prep books, and even Civil Service exam books. Next time you’re on Jay Street, shop small at this little piece of local history, and ask to speak to Walter and Kam for plenty of stories and a lot of heart.
If you’ve ever been to Doner Kebab NYC at 34 Willoughby Street, you’ve probably been served by the owner, Kenan Ozkurkcu. And at this family-owned and -run eatery, every item on the menu (except the french fries) is made in-house daily. “Before we open every day, every single thing we serve - I taste it. And I have to be satisfied first before I serve it. I trust my chefs, but it’s my rule!” Kenan laughs. With plans to expand to a second location in the near future, the ability to maintain such a commitment to quality is what concerns him the most. For now, though, he’s content and thriving here in Downtown Brooklyn. He knows all of the local business owners, the police officers, and many of his customers by name. “It’s a great feeling - I’m part of the community, and I love it. I’m so happy to be here.”