During the past ten years, and especially the last two, restaurants have been popping up like mushrooms along Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 110th and 120th Streets in Harlem. This strip of real estate has been proclaimed recently as the spot to watch as the entire neighborhood begins its inevitable transformation into a gentrified high-rent district.
Yvette Leeper-Bueno, owner of newly opened Vinateria restaurant, commented on the changing feel of the neighborhood.
“My husband Adrian [Bueno] and I have been in the neighborhood for 11 years,” she explains. “And we re-did a brownstone that’s been in the family since the 1980s. My father used to rent the rooms out on a weekly basis, and he would talk about these characters who’d stay there. At that time, the neighborhood was quite downtrodden. There were syringes in the streets, all kinds of crime, drugs, squatters, tons of problems with this specific building. Everything you can imagine.”
The restaurant renaissance began with baby steps with the opening of Melba’s in 2005, and Zoma, a wonderful Eithiopian eatery which opened in 2006. Leeper-Bueno says the real explosion began in 2010.
“One of the first restaurants to be of the new wave of restaurants was 5 and Diamond on 112th and Frederick Douglass,” she explains. “Then Bier International opened, and then it kind of caught like wild fire.”
Since then more restaurants have opened on the trendy street, including Cedric, Lido, a new branch of Levain Bakery, and a bar and cocktails joint, 67 Orange Street. Come visit and become a part of this trendy, up and coming, destination.