Open and Shut: The 2011 Edition


    Here’s a roundup of the big food and retail news in Brooklyn over the past year. Feel free to chime in if we’ve missed anything…

    Burger shops were probably the biggest food trend this year, most recently evidenced by this month’s opening of Brooklyn’s first Shake Shack on Fulton Street. Before that, Five Guys Burgers moved into Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn and the Metrotech Center. Smash Burger expanded from Denver to Downtown Brooklyn, and Jake’s Wayback Burger opened in DoBro a few blocks away.

    National Retailers Ink Deals in Downtown Brooklyn
    A number of big-name national retailers announced plans to take space on the Fulton Mall this year, setting the stage for the continued transformation of the commercial strip. H&M, Gap and Express all announced plans to move onto Fulton Street. (Plans for a Filene’s/Sym’s hybrid at 490 Fulton fell through, however, after the company went bankrupt.) Construction progressed on the first phase of the City Point development, which will add 50,000 square feet of retail space to Downtown next year. A Panera is also under construction in Downtown. Meanwhile, artsy businesses and cafes set up shop in shipping containers at Dekalb Market. All of the changes aren’t without controversy, though: a documentary film is in the works about the aggressive gentrification seen on the Fulton Mall.

    Atlantic Yards Anxieties
    The arena’s going up, but many nearby residents cast aspersions on the planned opening of several businesses perceived as catering primarily to arena visitors. The controversy over a bar/restaurant called Prime 6 got the most press. After the owner announced the joint wouldn’t, as some feared, be a strip club, residents still pushed for strict operating hours and complained about plans to offer bottle service. The state approved a liquor license but it has yet to open. Meanwhile, a gastropub announced plans to open at 604 Pacific Street, and a liquor license was eventually approved with a stipulation that no dancing be allowed. No doubt these won’t be the only new businesses near the arena to battle the community boards.

    After the jump, Manhattan chefs who moved to Brooklyn this year, commercial changes in Crown Heights and Bed Stuy, and critics’ favorite Brooklyn meals of 2011…

    Openings in Crown Heights and Bed Stuy
    2011 brought a lot of hip restaurants deeper into the borough, especially in Crown Heights and Bed Stuy. Franklin Avenue alone saw 14 new businesses open, including a candy shop, cocktail/oyster bar, and vintage clothing store. Park Slope favorite Al Di La made news when it announced it was expanding to Washington Avenue. And Bed Stuy became home to hipster joints like Do or Dine, Dough (which technically opened December 2010), a few wine stores and the coming expansion of Saraghina.

    Manhattan Comes to Brooklyn
    This year plenty of Manhattan chefs found new roots in Brooklyn. Spotted Pig alum Nate Smith opened a restaurant in Prospect Heights and then Williamsburg. The savory chef at City Bakery is working on a new lunch spot in Prospect Heights. Valley Shepard Creamery moved from SoHo to Park Slope. Morimoto alums opened up Chuko on Vanderbilt Avenue. The Meatball Shop came from the Lower East Side to the Burg.

    We would be remiss not to mention the opening of Smorgasburg, the all-food offshoot of the Brooklyn Flea, this summer in Williamsburg. The market brought Brooklyn 80+ vendors selling sandwiches, ice cream, friend anchovies, lobster rolls, pizza, and all other things sweet and savory. Yum….is it summer yet?

    Critics Name Their Favorite Brooklyn Meals
    The Atlantic had one of its favorite meals of 2011 at Mile End: “As hard as it is to face a crowd of ravenous Brooklyn locals first thing in the morning, the reward is worth it.” Critic Ryan Sutton named Brooklyn Star and Roberta’s as two of his favorites. Some of Time Out NY’s best meals of 2011 were at St. Anselm and Isa, both in Williamsburg. Village Voice lists its best burgers at Prospect Heights’ Dean Street and Bushwick’s Northeast Kingdom.

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