Summer-Hell: Outraged residents protest at controversial restaurant

Anti-colonialist: 30-year Crown Heights resident Ayanna Prescod spoke out against Summerhill outside the Nostrand Avenue restaurant on July 22.
Brooklyn Paper
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This conversation was over before it started.

The owner of a Crown Heights restaurant criticized for using the neighborhood’s violent past as a promotional tool was a no-show at a rally there on July 22, angering residents who thought they would have a chance to work things out.

“We gave her a perfect opportunity, even if she just wanted to do damage control. But she didn’t want to talk to anybody,” Ayanna Prescod, who has lived locally for 30 years, said of restaurant owner Becca Brennan. “It’s total bad business.”

The event was organized as a way for community members to speak directly to the owner of “boozy sandwich shop” Summerhill after she incited ire last week with a press release that boasted a “bullet hole–ridden wall” inside the recently opened space at 637 Nostrand Ave. between Bergen Street and St. Marks Avenue.

The business’s social media accounts promoted the wall — which Gothamist later confirmed was not perforated by bullets — in advertisements for its $12 cocktails, in addition to featuring images of 40-ounce bottles of rosé served in brown bags. The restaurant’s profiles on Instagram and Yelp — where it currently enjoys a one-and-a-half-star rating — were flooded with critical messages in response, and fliers that called its owner a racist, colonialist gentrifier were posted around Crown Heights.

Organizers of the rally brought a list of demands — which included repairing the hole-ridden wall — and other suggestions for making amends with the community to the event. But when the proprietor did not appear and sent a lone representative to face the crowd with a statement on her behalf, the demonstrators tore up the credo, saying it was not their responsibility to get her back into neighbors’ good graces.

“I ended up ripping up the list of demands and saying, ‘Boycott the establishm­ent,’ ” said Justine Stephens, a rally organizer. “As a community I don’t think it’s our job to hold them accountable — that just makes it easy for them. I think they can see the anger and hurt they’ve caused.”

Brennan, a former corporate tax attorney and self-described Toronto transplant, said in the statement that she was sorry for unintentionally making light of the nabe’s conflicted past in her marketing.

“I deeply apologize for any offense that my recent comments might have caused,” she wrote. “I did not intend to be insensitive to anyone in the neighborhood, and I am sorry that my words have caused pain.”

But she stopped short of promising to fix the controversial wall, which she said would be kept in tact for cosmetic purposes.

“The reason we maintained the distressed wall is for the aesthetic,” Brennan said in the statement. “We have kept other elements of the original space as well to create a visually engaging experience.”

Stephens said that Brennan contacted her and fellow demonstrators after the event in an attempt to arrange a follow-up discussion, but she is not sure whether they will accept the reviled restaurateur’s offer.

“We haven’t responded,” said Stephens. “We’re still developing what we’re going to say in reply.”

Crown Heights was home to a three-day riot in 1991 that set off when the motorcade of an Hasidic Jewish leader ran over two Guyanese immigrants, killing one of them.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:56 pm, July 9, 2018: Context added.
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Reasonable discourse

Tye says:
Using violence to prove they're not violent. Classic.
July 25, 2017, 6:58 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
To hell with these assclowns
July 25, 2017, 9:26 am
Ayanna P. from Crown Heights says:
The real Ayanna P. here, and I don't hate ANYONE as a fake commenter who used my name wrote. I wish Becca would do better but she hasn't and doesn't plan too. Therefore my community and I will not support her business. And all of that WITH LOVE!
July 25, 2017, 9:47 am
Frank from Bay Ridge says:
These people are always complaining.
July 25, 2017, 11:07 am
Old time brooklyn from Slope says:
I complain therefore I am
July 25, 2017, 11:25 am
Petey from Sunset Park says:
News flash- Just don't go to that establishment. If enough people feel the same way it will go out business. Simple! No need to look for a racist, colonialist, gentrifier behind every parking meter in Brooklyn! LOL talk about name calling and aggression! Needless to say the protesters probably don't even know these people well enough to make those accusations.
July 25, 2017, 11:49 am
Jay from Ft. Greene says:

Where was the violence? No violence seen, non reported.
July 25, 2017, 12:09 pm
Jay from Ft. Greene says:
I don't care if you're black or white or from Bed-Stuy or Bay Ridge. If you're FROM Brooklyn, you all know that this story is bigger than just a business owner who is culturally insensitive. Yes, things change, but this bar and the attitude of Ms. Brennan is symbolic of a change that has displaced generations of good, hard-working, people. This bar symbolizes a demographic who, from the moment they pull up with their U-Haul, claim ownership of all things surrounding them. They choose to keep and accept what is romantic about Brooklyn—what they've heard in a song or what they've seen in a movies, but reject the creators and their culture as a whole.

And by the way, if this woman or any other new business owner in in the neighborhood went the in the other direction and used Jewish stereotypes as marketing tools, the Hasidic community of Crown Heights would've shut that place down, no protest, no social tirade... they would have shut it down. Would that have been extreme? Would that have been unacceptable? What is the difference.
July 25, 2017, 12:20 pm
James from Sheepshead Bay says:
Love all the social justice crowd complaining about change. Brooklyn and NYC is all about change from generation to generation. Has been for CENTURIES. NO ONE has exclusive rights to an area forever. People move in and out all the time. Little italy is the perfect example. People moved on. My life experience in NYC has told me those who are screaming that others are "racists" are usually racists themselves. FYI the so called "white boys" (as called by the bottle throwing black friends from other neighborhoods) used to drink 40 oz beers in the park in the 1980's and 1990's as well. Not just a "black thing"
July 25, 2017, 1:55 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
We really need to work on a cure for SJW disease. Ever since SJW Sally was patient zero in 2006, it has spread with disastrous results. If you look at that wall for more than 2 seconds, you will obviously see those are rebar holes.
July 25, 2017, 2:45 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Oh, forgot to add; I will be sure to be going there and ordering a drink or two.
July 25, 2017, 2:46 pm
Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
I will go to Summerhill and scream invective at these oppressors, and remind all those within earshot that these colonizing interlopers must not be heard. I, on the other hand, will be heard. I will never have a Summerhill sandwich, or a sandwich accompanied by a Summerhill beer, even if I could afford them. Instead I will shout and yell in front of Summerhill, so that no one will enjoy their sandwich and beer.

That is what I will do.
July 25, 2017, 10:24 pm
samir kabir from downtown says:
How about hanging pairs of sneakers by their shoestrings from her restaurant ceiling? Brennan is making fun of people, trying to be cute and also trying to make profit. She has no class and is clueless. I hope her restaurant fails, big time.
July 26, 2017, 7:42 am
Lauren from Fort Greene says:
This owner deserves to lose her investment for being so out of tune with the neighborhood. I hope the protesters continue to protest against gangs for their culture of gun and drug violence. If a "cheeky" Bloods Cafe opened, we hope there would be protests to shut it down.
July 26, 2017, 3:02 pm
Aurvandil from Bay Ridge says:
Dunno why this large Justice Warrior is complaining about 'stereotypes' and 'props', when the real thing still walks the streets right there, right now:
While the people that directed their time, resources, passion & 'marketing' into this place the way the saw fit (protected by law) - this guy was doing the same, in his own way:
'"Praise God. I want $800 million. I’m a rapper, you heard."
These snow-white snowflakes virtue signalling and recording her —— - fine degreed young people all - know —— about what happened here in '91, how anyone as privileged as them were yanked from cars, robbed, stripped, beaten and in the case of an innocent Hasidim - stabbed to death.
They think that the people still doing the ——ing wouldn't - with glee - do the same thing again, given the right opportunity.
That might be a story worth documenting.
Funny how a fck'g comment about bullet-holes in a damn wall can summon MOBS of faux-outrage, while women can be stalked, assaulted, and raped - almost at will - and these exact same people don't seem to have a DAMN thing to say about it. How's that happen?
July 27, 2017, 7:29 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
"To create a visually engaging experience.” I guess the owner means let's party and drink with the backdrop of all those killed by gunfire in NYC over the past few decades. Welcome to the neighborhood.
July 28, 2017, 10:35 am
Aurvandil from Bay Ridge says:
Another liberal genius comment: 'I guess the owner means let's party and drink with the backdrop of all those killed by gunfire in NYC over the past few decades.'
'killed by gunfire': what does that mean?
She can create any kind of 'visually engaging experience' she wants: it's her wall, and her form of expression - and far less offensive than some washed-up c-nt holding a blood-soaked decapitated head of the POTUS (or was that just 'art'?).
One thing is certain: there'll be many less people 'killed by gunfire' in the coming years in that neighborhood - and everywhere else - becuase the people - not the 'guns' - doing all the damn killing - won't be around that much.
July 29, 2017, 8:31 pm
ResistTrump from The USA says:
Like people in that neighborhood are going to pay $12 bucks for a cocktail. Get real and get a life people. WAY more important issues going on right now. Like your healthcare, social services etc disappearing.
July 30, 2017, 7:05 pm
Steve from East Village says:
Over 16,000 restaurants in the city. Most fail within 18 months. Seems like just ignoring this place for a little while should take care of it.
July 30, 2017, 7:06 pm
Martine says:
"These people..." " "...gorilla in the white shirt..." Racism is very alive and well in Brooklyn. Disgusting. But speaking out against this restaurant is a problem? Jesus.
July 30, 2017, 8:04 pm
DEIDRE from USA says:
A Canadian. Our Kiss-Ass cousin. Just wants to profit off our violent, sad history. While they declare their superiority. Look at their history, especially with First Nations people. So sanctimonious-this is a prime example.
July 30, 2017, 8:24 pm
kush from crown heights says:
Boycott! No discussion and singing kum ba yah! Boycott! No business and criticize anybody that you know who goes into the business. Economic boycotts work. talking never does. they didn't talk before they put up that racist crap. Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott!Boycott! DON'T SPEND A DIME!
July 30, 2017, 9:24 pm
Sheeboons from Gone Wild! says:
Look at that sherilla in the white shirt! Not surprised by their anger, they only been out of the trees about 150 years
Aug. 3, 2017, 1:40 pm

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