Culture

Brooklyn Restaurant Sparks Outrage over Fake Bullet Holes

Crown Heights residents protest the restaurant's perpetuation of stereotypes
Brooklyn Restaurant Fake Bullet Holes Outrage
Photos: Summerhill

Gentrification is a tale as old as time. And the latest chapter in this never-ending saga is currently being played out in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, an area of the city historically populated with predominantly black and brown bodies. The protagonist of the story is Summerhill, a "boozy sandwich shop" from Canadian owner Becca Brennan, a former corporate tax attorney.

The problematic plot twist that catapulted the restaurant into the national spotlight were (now-retracted) plans to serve 40-ounce rosé bottles in paper bags—a nod to stereotypes of black people drinking malt liquor in a similar fashion—and a press release touting Instagrammable bullet hole-ridden walls. (Note: We have nothing against rosé 40s, but serving them in this way perpetuates an unfair cliché.)

To put it plainly: A white woman goes to a black neighborhood and advertises stereotypes of black poverty as selling points.

The owner's hollow apologies and social media missteps, like joking on Instagram about her "great tan" in regard to an Eater article stating that she is white, have only fanned the flames of the growing resistance. The "bullet hole-ridden wall" from the press release turns out to be cosmetic damage, hence the "distressed wall" phrasing in Brennan's apology below.

 

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Gentrification in and of itself isn't the evil villain here—rather it is the language surrounding this restaurant that has tormented those of us who don't see gun violence in black neighborhoods as good for PR. In an interview with Gothamist, Brennan states in response to a rumor that the location was formerly a corner store where you could buy a "'certified pre-owned' firearm" that she didn't "have any backup to that, but when you think about it as a joke like, yep, that's a bullet hole." Stray bullets too often land in innocent bodies instead of walls to think about it as a joke.

 

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Summerhill's Yelp listing is currently covered with an "active cleanup alert" banner indicating that reviews—both positive and negative—solely based on the developing news coverage are being removed after angered citizens have taken to the restaurant's page to voice their disdain. Protesters also gathered Saturday afternoon to hold an open forum discussion and present a list of demands for the restaurant, including removal of the damaged wall.

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