‘Bye, Becky!’ Protests Erupt Over Gentrifyng Brooklyn, NY, Bar That Promoted Itself With Fake Bullet Holes Behind $12 Cocktails

Dan Sugrue for Summerhill
Dan Sugrue for Summerhill

On Monday a press release for a new “boozy sandwich shop” in Brooklyn, N.Y., went out, complete with a photo of a chichi cocktail in front of a “bullet hole ridden wall”—a wall the new owners said they were proudly keeping, but which turned out to be fake (at least the bullet holes were).

Advertisement

By Saturday the Yelp page for the shop, Summerhill, was in shambles, and nearly 100 protesters turned out to the shop in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights section to decry gentrification, the tone-deaf “marketing” of black poverty and violence, and the new owner, whose name unfortunately happens to be a version of “Becky.”

“That’s not what the neighborhood needs,” lifelong Crown Heights resident Ayanna Prescott, 30, told Gothamist. “The neighborhood needs child care. It needs schools.

“And a ‘boozy sandwich shop’ with fake bullet holes is totally disconnected,” she added.

The owner of Summerhill, Becca Brennan, a former attorney from Canada, has repeatedly apologized since the original release but was still met Saturday with cries of “Bye-bye, Becky” and signs that read, “This is what gentrification looks like,” and “Summerhill: Racist.”

Brennan called her offensive marketing ploy “cheeky” and apologized “deeply” in an initial statement. “I did not intend to be insensitive to anyone in the neighborhood, and I am sorry that my words caused pain,” it read.

Advertisement

On Saturday she issued another letter of apology, which read in part, “I respect the comments that I have received and I recognize that I have more work to do to continue healing relationships with my neighbors.”

Advertisement

Gothamist reports that between 2000 and 2010, Crown Heights’ majority-black population shrank while its white population nearly doubled, to 16 percent. And between 2011 and 2015, according to a recent DNAinfo analysis, the 11216 zip code covering parts of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights neighborhoods had among the most significant increases in high-income renters in the city.

A Crown Heights store owner applauded the arrival of a new restaurant before giving Becky the business.

Advertisement

“When you’re using the challenges we have as a community to mimic us ... [that] is very distasteful to the human experience,” said Tracy Reid, who opened her business 18 years ago in the historically Hasidic Jewish and West Indian community, which, unfortunately, has lost many of its residents to gun violence.

Oh, and Summerhill also offers a “40 ounce Rosé” on its menu, served in a paper bag to mimic drinking 40-ounce malt liquor (something that has been out of vogue for at least 20 years, like human beat boxes in hip-hop).

Advertisement

Hopefully Becks, in all her learning, will put the kibosh on that, too.

Advertisement

Read more at Gothamist.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.

DISCUSSION

14fortyone
Vin

The quote about needing childcare and schools killed me, because even if you just wanted to be a cold-hearted pragmatist, I’m fairly certain that a daycare would make far more money and last longer than yet another hipster NYC bar.

But when all you care about is providing Instagram fodder to elevate your status amongst your (white, sheltered) friends, this is how you spend your money. I bet Becky bought one of the Jenner twins’ Biggy t-shirts.