After a three-month long battle and amassing more than 1500 petition signatures, the beloved Flatbush Caribbean bakery won a new lease, said community organizers this week.
Loved by neighborhood newbies and lifelong residents, Errol’s Caribbean Bakery at 661 Flatbush Avenue has been serving jerk chicken, coco bread, and Jamaican patties to Brooklyn for 15 years. (Sunshine, who’s lived in Flatbush for 17 years, recommends the curried goat and chicken feet soup).
“We just want to thank everyone in the community who supported us,” said the bakery co-owner Errol Miller. “From the people in the neighborhood who came out, to our people in The Caribbean and Europe who signed the petition, we couldn’t have gotten a lease without you.”
Miller is an immigrant from Jamaica who has worked in Flatbush for 30 years. But after the bakery’s $3,500 per month lease expired in last May, instead of renegotiating his lease the landlord sued to remove him from the property.
Following a battle in housing court, Miller and his landlord struck a verbal six-month agreement at a $5,000 per month rate (before water meter costs), but during that time he told BKLYNER that the landlord ignored his (and his lawyer’s) calls, leading to an order to evacuate by February.
But the case caught the attention of Equality for Flatbush, an anti-gentrification coalition that provided the bakery with an attorney, and publicized the struggle through a video campaign, petition, and snowy protests outside the bakery.
The gentrification trend in Flatbush is pushing out family-owned businesses, writes Equality for Flatbush. To combat thriving but displaced businesses, activists in New York City have been fighting to pass The Small Business Jobs Survival Act to support “equal negotiating power as the landlord for new terms.”
For members of Equality for Flatbush, the victory represents a movement rippling throughout the entire borough.
“Caribbean businesses like Errol’s Bakery are part of the backbone of this neighborhood,” said Soraya Palmer, Equality for Flatbush leader. “What this victory shows is that we can stop the displacement of residents and businesses in our neighborhoods.”