Night of the Cookers Closing Driven by Lifestyle and Money, Not Gentrification, Says Owner


The closing of an African-American-owned eatery on Fulton Street in Fort Greene after over a dozen years in business may look like another example of gentrification rolling through the diverse neighborhood but it’s really a simple lifestyle choice, according to an article today on the NY Times’ Local blog. Night of the Cookers has taken up double-wide storefront at 767 Fulton Street since 1999. Its founder, Phil Myers, was also smart enough to buy the building and now, he says, he’s reached a point where he’s ready to just kick back and collect the rent from Greene Grape Provisions, which will be moving from its smaller current location down the block. “It’s a good time to lease out,” said Myers. “I don’t want the headaches of a really busy bar.” And given how booming the commercial stretch is these days is bound to be high. “Down goes another one the establishments that made Fort Greene distinctive from other gentrified areas of the borough,” said one commenter on The Local. “The neighborhood is changing for the better,” said Mr. Myers. “Greene Grape is more representative of the neighborhood now.”

21 Comment

  • Unfortunately – the strip of ostensibly? black owned restaurants on Fulton Street bet s. oxford and s. elliot, have been way past their “sell by” date for years, in terms of food and service – which are usually average at best.

  • Unfortunately – the strip of ostensibly? black owned restaurants on Fulton Street bet s. oxford and s. elliot, have been way past their “sell by” date for years, in terms of food and service – which are usually average at best.

  • It is gentrification, it is the owner profiting from the new wealthy people moving in. It is just not being used in the usual negative way.

  • Also the unbearably awful service should have forced that place to shutter years ago.

  • When I first moved to Ft. Greene, this was one of the only restaurants on Fulton St. Went a couple times, but haven’t been in at least six years. Mostly because the food sucks and the service was awful. Good for him for cashing in, though. At least he had the foresight to buy the building. Why keep running a mediocre restaurant if you can just be a landlord?

  • Whitestoner – what do you how is this any more or less negative then “usual”?

    • I don’t know if you have been reading brownstoner, or the fliers that people have been passing around the neighborhoods, or listening to the news, reading the papers, or going to any of the community meetings but, it appears that Gentrification has a bit of a negative connotation.

      Even the article made sure to clearly state that gentrification was not the reason the restaurant is closing. I was stating that of course it is gentrification that is closing the restaurant, it is just closing because the owner of the building is going to be making more money and working less as a landlord. And I was just saying, this is the first time I have read a story where someone is actually benefiting from gentrification. So because it was a positive byproduct of gentrification, the article title made sure to let us know, that it was not gentrification.

      Because what the definition of gentrification has come to mean is, white people moving in and ruining the Perfect Utopia which once existed.

      • It isnt that it was a Utopia but it was at least affordable! Now the way things are people cannot afford to even live in the neighborhoods they grew up in or go to the restaurants they loved because they are being priced out of business….

  • snappyglitter

    I’ve wasted my money in this place far too many times. How can you manage to make catfish taste like nothing at all??? Ick. And don’t even get me started on their terrible collard greens. That being said, I’m never happy to see a business close. I just wish they had sought out some folks who really know how to cook soul food and remained open.

  • hello_kitty

    I don’t see this closing as a lost or yet another sign of “gentrification” the owner after trying several years to sell the property is now happy to collect rent from someone else. I personally haven’t been in this place in years because the food and service were horrible.

  • For my money, NONE of the restaurants on Fulton are worth a damn, so at least there will be one less. How can Dekalb have so many good (or at least decent) restaurants, and Fulton has none? The seafood place and ethiopian place are OK, but WAY overpriced. 1 Greene sushi is, like everything else owned by that korean couple, mediocre at best. Brooklyn Moon? meh. And the green grape Annex is a goddam joke. I hate it so much it makes me never want to shop at Provisions. Not Ray’s is about the only reliable food option on the whole street.

    • Well Fulton…Dekalb has had its share as well. Let’s not forget the culinary juxtapositional horror show that was “Rice.” and “Red Bamboo” was…well – thank god I eat meat.

      I think it has more to do with restaurants that opened up in pre-gentrified areas being called out (for their food/service) as the area’s clientele’s expectations have risen.

    • Very funny – that Korean couple. That Korean couple (and their children) slept on the floor every night of the Green Farms Deli (their first store) when I lived in Fort Greene in the 1990s. When I returned to this country in 2005, the wife recognized me. And now they own several brownstones and businesses and have put their children through college. Long live the American dream! Do only non-Americans know how to live it any more?

  • East New York

    I decided long ago never to patronize that place because I didn’t understand the name of the joint. “Night of the Cookers?” What the hell is that supposed to mean?

    Based on some of the commentary here, I didn’t miss anything.

    • Night of the Cookers is a title to a jazz concert back in the day that was made into an album. The concert featured some heavy jazz greats. The restaurant used to have Jazz nights from what I recall. I lived off South Portland/Fulton from 94-2003…I too remember the food at first being pretty decent when it opened.

  • East New York

    I decided long ago never to patronize that place because I didn’t understand the name of the joint. “Night of the Cookers?” What the hell is that supposed to mean?

    Based on some of the commentary here, I didn’t miss anything.

  • grimacenyc

    “Long-time Fort-Greene black-owned soul-food restaurant/bar loses lease due to huge rent-increase to white owned expensive food store.”

    If that was the theme of the article, there might be a bit more complaining no matter what the food tastes like..

    Two factors make it smell a little different then your classic gentrification story:

    1) The landlord/owner is also the tenant. He’s essentially getting priced out of his own building. His place can’t afford or isn’t worth it to run his business against the ‘market rent’ the space can command and newer businesses can easily afford to pay.

    2) The landlord is black.

    This makes total sense for the landlord/owner business wise, but this is 100% gentrification in full effect.

  • I think Whitestoner’s point is interesting. If the owner had not bought the building and had gotten priced out, people would see it as much worse. I guess it’s okay when he gets to collect rent. As far as him being priced out of his own space, I can tell you that I’ve been going to that place for 10 years. The service had declined. I would only go there because that was an ongoing spot for me and one of my friends. The service was NOT good, so maybe that has something to do with the success of the business or lack thereof.

  • I really miss the Cambodian place that used to be where Smoke Joint is… That place was awesome