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MARCUS POP FOOD: Old Harlem Meets New Harlem

By admin | January 6, 2011

Old Harlem Meets New Harlem

Opening weeks. It’s been hectic, but the overwhelming response we’ve gotten so far has been humbling. We just started up lunch service today and have already hosted our first Gospel Brunch.

I love watching the progression of this place. It’s exciting and motivates me and the team.

I also enjoy connecting with our customers, especially Harlemites who know the original Red Rooster well. Their stories about late nights and legendary performances are fascinating, and it’s exciting when they bring in photos to show me.

I’m encouraging people to bring in their own photos, and share their stories, so we can post them around Red Rooster.

I know there’s been a lot of talk lately about old Harlem against new Harlem, like I saw in New York Times’ recent article, but I embrace Harlem as a whole.

With all the back and forth, it seems everyone has forgotten that Harlem is beautiful because of it’s rich history and diversity. But history comes with time and change.

The same thing is happening in Smogen, where my dad is from and I spent a lot of my childhood. It’s an old fishing town that is drawing attention from a young, hip and wealthy crowd of Swedes.

The conversation there is the same as it is here in Harlem – should the fisherman sell their homes to the wealthy and move elsewhere or should they stand their ground?

It’s important to remember that Harlem didn’t always appear as it did during its Renaissance and it won’t look this 50 years from now.

By then, I hope to be a part of “old Harlem”, embracing the new.

It feels good to have created a space that not only brings people together for a good time and delicious food, but also created 80 jobs, most of which went to people within the community.

One of our line cooks, Richard, is C-CAP grad I met through the organization. He’s a graduate of Johnston & Wales, one of the most prestigious culinary universities in the US and was born and raised up the block from where I live now.

Richard has seen Harlem change over the years, and I’m happy to have him on the team.

Our progression is steady. With lunch and brunch now in place, we’re planning our first cooking classes to help encourage kids in the neighborhood to be more empowered through food and cooking.

My goal of being inclusive to the public are slowly being realized every day.

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