“Our goal is to bring people from across America and around the world to Brooklyn.”
– Jeffrey Stirewalt, Brooklyn Unplugged Tours
In celebration of Brooklyn’s cultural, social, and economic renaissance, Brooklyn Unplugged Tours launched its first official Flatbush tour at the Caton Market Caribbean Culture Expo event on Sunday, March 9. Founded in 2012, Brooklyn Unplugged Tours are known as “original ethnic culture and food adventures” led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable locals. Guides show visitors parts of Brooklyn that are “off the beaten path,” with visits to authentic restaurants, cultural markets, and interactive community events.
Born and raised in Midwood, founder Jeffrey Stirewalt is a third-generation Brooklynite. As a proud local, he recognizes and celebrates its rich history and architecture, along with the community of Caribbean immigrant culture that populates the diverse and energetic Flatbush area. Recognizing and jumping on the opportunity to break into the tourism niche in Flatbush, Jeffrey created Brooklyn Unplugged Tours to expand upon its growth while simultaneously bringing visitors to the local businesses that reside in and support the community he grew up in.
“Folks we bring here to Flatbush are fascinated by the food, shopping, and music,” says Jeffrey, “and are surprised to learn about its history and claims to fame. At the other end, local small business owners are excited about the increase in foot traffic and revenue. It’s a win-win for all.”
The new Flatbush tour will include stops at landmark sights around the area, including:
• Flatbush Town Hall, a historic, two-story Gothic Revival building with a three-story bell tower, built in 1875. The Hall served as a courthouse, police station, and community center.
• Flatbush Reformed Church, founded in 1654 and featuring a stone tower belfry, stained-glass Tiffany windows that memorialize descendants of the early settlers of Flatbush, and a cemetery dating back to 1754.
• King’s Theatre, which is currently undergoing an $94 million restoration into a community performing arts center, and where Barbra Streisand and Sylvester Stallone worked as teenagers.
• Flatbush Caton Vendor’s Market, a cultural marketplace of West Indian businesses selling clothing, skincare products, spices, food, and music, and which is also beginning renovations to prepare for expanded commerce.
Brooklyn Unplugged Tours — which will be limited to an intimate group of eight at most — will also be sampling a smorgasbord of West Indian cuisine, including jerk chicken, curried goat, oxtail, and of course authentic chicken, beef, and vegetable patties with coco bread.
Catering to tourists, the groups will meet in Manhattan and travel together to Flatbush via subway. Guides will continue the walking tour with visits to the area’s ethnic food, shopping, and historic landmarks. Visitors will also interact with locals who will discuss what it means to be an immigrant in America.
“Guests are exposed to individuals who overcame all odds and created a new life for themselves, while still to this day struggling to balance the influences of modern day America with the home culture they value so dearly,” says Jeffrey.
To book a tour, visit brooklynunpluggedtours.com, or call them at 866-431-5393. Each 4-hour tour costs $39.99, and group rates are also available.