NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the five boroughs of New York City, encourages locals and visitors to plan an “NYC-cation” in the culturally diverse neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, otherwise known as Bed-Stuy. On the heels of the launch of NYC & Company’s new content hub, The Black Experience in NYC—celebrating the diversity and nuances within New York’s Black community and what makes it unparalleled compared to every other Black community in the world—NYC & Company will be highlighting various neighborhoods across the boroughs with a commitment to inclusivity and a more equitable future as travel restarts.
A well-known center of Black culture since the early 20th century and home to music icons including Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and Lil’ Kim, Bed-Stuy is one of Brooklyn’s most renowned neighborhoods and has had major significance on the Black community as a center of activism and political power in the 1960s/70s with leaders such as Dr. Robert Palmer, organizing groups to battle against racism, and Shirley Chisholm, a trailblazer who shattered that political glass ceiling for today’s female leaders. Murals that immortalize these civil rights figures as well as music icons line the streets of Bed-Stuy, coupled with rows of Victorian brownstones and tree-lined blocks creating a distinct aesthetic.
“As we continue along the path to recovery, a primary focus at NYC & Company is working toward and maintaining a more equitable future for the culturally diverse neighborhoods across the five boroughs that so prominently represent the dynamism of New York City,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO at NYC & Company. “Black-owned businesses in Bed-Stuy have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and we’re encouraging locals and visitors to explore and support the neighborhood’s vibrant restaurants, shops and cultural and wellness attractions that embody the Black diaspora.”
“An always-shifting landscape coupled with the effects of the pandemic have impacted Black-owned businesses in Bed-Stuy, like in the rest of New York City and the US,” said Rondel Holder, Senior Director of Multicultural Content at NYC & Company. “One way to lend a hand while immersing yourself in local culture, is to patronize Black-owned restaurants, bars, retailers and cultural attractions; it will do wonders to stimulate the senses, spark creativity and show much-needed support.”
“The pandemic has taken its toll on small businesses and like most neighborhoods throughout the City, Bed-Stuy has felt its full effect. Thanks to programs like NYC & Company’s The Black Experience NYC that shed light on the ongoing contributions the people and places within the Black communities have made, distressed communities can move forward. What better way for those living the legacy to celebrate Bed-Stuy’s enriched culture and experience its festive food and brownstone streets than by vacationing in place?” said Lynette Battle, Interim Executive Director at Bed-Stuy Gateway BID.
Below is a selection of experiences to enjoy during an “NYC-cation” in Bed-Stuy. For further details, visit NYC & Company’s Bed-Stuy Guide at nycgo.com.
Shop Unique Goods at Black-Owned Retailers:
- Known for its unique Nigerian garments and accessories for men, Moshood/Afrikan Spirit, located in Restoration Plaza, personifies the “spirit” of African pride through timeless pieces that have been embraced across the world, combining the traditional beauty of African tailoring and a taste of western flavor.
- Minimalist-concept store Sincerely, Tommy offers limited-edition pieces from emerging womenswear designers and lifestyle brands while supporting social initiatives including a free food fridge, anti-ICE campaigns and Building Black Bed-Stuy.
- Peace & Riot is an eclectic home-design and clothing shop selling a curated range of items including Moroccan poufs, Sade sweatshirts, aromatherapy candles and Brooklyn Street Art.
- Ancient Blends Apothecary is decorated with African prints and masks, offering incense, organic skin- and hair-care products, palo santo sticks, plants and candles.
- Also a community space and creative hub for independent designers, Make Manifest is a shop selling clothing, accessories and home decor that has also hosted workshops, trainings and events.
- Byas and Leon supports Black creators in Haiti and abroad by paying living wages in exchange for handcrafted products, including button-down shirts, gemstone jewelry and other crafted items.
Enjoy a Taste of Black Culture at Restaurants, Cafés and Bars:
- Brooklyn Tea offers original tea leaf blends created by co-owners and couple Jamila McGill and Alfonso Wright. Wright’s Jamaican upbringing is credited for their passion of tea, describing it as a defining part of the culture. The tea room will reopen the first week in May.
- At Brooklyn Beso, enjoy Latin dishes including arepas, empanadas, tacos and house specialty plátanos rellenos, among colorful, brick interior or garden patio tables.
- Currently open for outdoor dining, Grandchamps offers Haitian dishes such as griyo and legim in a casual setting. Over the past year, the restaurant partnered with other restaurants and local organizations to provide meals to over 6,000 first responders, hospital workers, Haitian refugees and others in need.
- Bed-Vyne Brew offers 10 taps of hand-crafted draft beer in a rustic setting with DJs spinning hip-hop, dancehall, funk, soul and more.
- Popular sister restaurants Peaches Kitchen & Bar and Peaches HotHouse offer modern American fare with a focus on Southern specialties like shrimp and grits and fried catfish, and are both favorite local spots for brunch.
- The Southern Comfort serves up soul food specialties including fried whiting, Cajun catfish, biscuits and gravy, and black-eyed peas and rice, with the Sooouul Roll—an egg roll filled with sweet potatoes, mac and cheese and greens—as a must-try.
- Mom-and-pop bakery Doc’s Cake Shop is a popular spot in the neighborhood frequented for its red velvet, pineapple upside-down or strawberry cake, as well as banana pudding.
- The Bush Doctor Juice Bar offers unique juices, smoothies and food, with a special homemade ginger beer, ginger coffee and ginger coco.
- A family-owned bar, Tilly’s BLYN, serves colorful cocktails in a Caribbean setting with tropical plants and checkerboard floors.
- Named for Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, Basquiat’s Bottle serves cocktails alongside paintings by local artists and is now hosting DJ sets on Saturday evenings.
- Elevated café experience Brown Butter offer pastries baked in-house including house-made brown-butter biscuits that complete popular brunch items such as the bacon, egg and cheddar sandwich and the fried chicken sandwich.
- Currently open for outdoor seating, The Fly is a walk-in only establishment specializing in rotisserie chicken alongside natural wine, cocktails and beers.
- Located in the heart of Bed-Stuy, Milk & Pull is the latest of three NYC locations and a cozy spot for coffee or a bite while exploring the neighborhood.
- Senegalese restaurant Joloff focuses on traditional dishes—including tiebou jeun (the national dish of seasoned baked fish with vegetables and joloff rice)—bringing an authentic West African experience to Brooklyn in a colorful, welcoming space.
- French-Senegalese café Le Paris Dakar offers savory or sweet crepes, freshly brewed coffee and almond croissants in a unique Parisian setting.
Experience Distinct Arts & Culture, and Wellness:
- Primarily an interactive music and dance studio for babies and toddlers, Lavender Blues is once again offering live classes in a new format outdoors that can be scheduled in advance online. The front of the space was recently transformed into a thrift shop, offering custom-embroidered clothing all for less than $20.
- Currently open on Saturdays and Sundays, Richard Beavers Gallery showcases up-and-coming and established Black artists, particularly those who create art that expresses issues at the forefront of the Black community. Bed-Stuy was chosen as the location for the gallery due to its historical significance in the Civil Rights movement and in order to make fine art more accessible.
- Learn about Bed-Stuy’s history at Macon Library, including an African American Heritage Center containing historic and cultural archives. Opened in 1907, the two-story classical revival-style building retains its original fireplaces, oak paneling, alcoves and wooden benches.
- Aimed to provide healing through human touch, Life Wellness Center is an acupuncture and massage center offering various services including a botanical experience in which custom bouquets are created on behalf of each individual’s energy.
Stay the Night at a Nearby Hotel or Inn:
- Housed in an 1860s landmark restored villa, Akwaaba Mansion – Brooklyn enjoys a prime location in historic Stuyvesant Heights in a quiet tree-lined community, featuring exquisite architectural details including 14-foot ceilings and ornate fireplaces while the decor blends antiques and Afrocentric elegance
- Situated between Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights, The Brooklyn Hotel offers boutique accommodations, personalized service and lavish amenities in a modern design setting.
Visitors to the five boroughs are encouraged to wear masks, practice physical distancing and frequently wash/sanitize hands, as indicated in NYC & Company’s Stay Well NYC Pledge. Check with individual businesses for current operating status and hours, as well as health and safety protocols, prior to visiting.
Sign up for NYC & Company’s newsletters to stay up-to-date on what’s happening across the five boroughs: nycgo.com/newsletters.
About NYC & Company:
NYC & Company is the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the City of New York, dedicated to maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, building economic prosperity and spreading the positive image of New York City worldwide. For all there is to do and see in New York City, visit nycgo.com.