Amidst all the recent chatter of elections and economic bailouts, there’s been a lot of talk about the anti-Wall Street: Main Street. While pundits and politicos might intend to invoke the family-owned businesses of Mayberry or at least Mobile, one need only cross the river from that beleaguered stock exchange to find mom and pop shops alive and well.
Though Brooklyn’s only street called Main is a modest two-block stretch in DUMBO, this issue abounds with profiles of burgeoning borough businesses from Van Brunt Street to Metropolitan Avenue. And while our nation’s commerce falls prey to multinational brands complete with outsourcing and inferior ingredients, senior executives in these parts tend to have titles like “grandma”—which brings a whole new meaning to the term “parent corporation.” At Red Hook’s the Good Fork, a mother-daughter kimchi duo pack pickled slaw into the wee hours. At Midwood fructose fantasy land the Orchard, a father and son source the world’s best fruit, and price it accordingly.
In Gowanus, brothers keep their grandfather’s pasta die business a well-oiled machine. And in Williamsburg, an uncle-nephew team run a fortune cookie factory while a husband and wife keep the home fires burning under BBQ.
While banks beg for bailouts, entrepreneurial Brooklynites establish edible enterprises. From the nation’s best falafel to a lawyer-operated occasional restaurant to crap-free tonic water and a legacy club’s makeover, innovation is the mom and pop of invention.
As the days grow shorter, our “Main Street” remains sunny. But, hey, if it all goes belly up, at least we’ll be able to dine on squirrel, harvest ginkgoes from our sidewalks, and sweeten our lives with rooftop honey.
Alicia Tate’s homage to salt.