Emma’s Torch Relocates To Smith Street In Former Wilma Jean Space


CARROLL GARDENS – Emma’s Torch, the restaurant that employs and trains refugees, asylees, and survivors of human trafficking for a career in the food industry, is relocating to Smith Street.

The restaurant announced Thursday morning that it will move to 345 Smith Street, into the former home of the fried chicken eatery Wilma Jean which shuttered on April 1 after three years on the corner of Carroll Street.

“We are excited about our new restaurant and training kitchen,” said Kerry Brodie, the Founder and Executive Director of Emma’s Torch. “Our students will be starting shortly and we are eager to be a part of this vibrant community.”

Scheduled to reopen at the new location in May, Emma’s Torch recently completed a six-month run as a pop-up at Red Hook’s Home/Made space where Brodie and Chef Mandy Maxwell trained students while serving brunch to customers. The Carroll Gardens’ outpost of Emma’s Torch will welcome a new group of student cooks who will receive 100 hours of culinary training, attend ESL classes, gain hands-on work experience, and receive job placement assistance.

Kerry Brodie displaying t-shirt with image of Emma Lazarus, the cafe’s namesake (Photo: Pamela Wong/BKLYNER)

The name Emma’s Torch is an homage to a hero of Brodie’s—“Emma Lazarus wrote the poem that’s on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’” Brodie told BKLYNER last June shortly after the eatery debuted in Red Hook. “Lazarus fought tirelessly on behalf of refugees, advocating in particular for vocational training. Emma’s Torch continues this legacy,” today’s announcement states.

“We are grateful to our volunteers who are working tirelessly to have our new home ready in just a few short weeks. The outpouring of support sends a clear message that refugees are welcome here,” Brodie added.

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