Once racist bar in Brooklyn now attracts Black customers, thanks to Black chef, co-owner
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 7/17/2018, 10:25 a.m.
A year ago, a bar in Brooklyn called Summerhill BK was put on blast as “racist” after its owner bragged about “Instagrammable” fake bullet holes on the walls inside. A boycott was called for, but it appears now that the same bar and restaurant is a popular spot for mostly Black clientele. According to NY.Eater.com, Summerhill’s growing popularity began soon after the controversy when a Black chef by the name of Wallahi Oyo, 27, bought into the spot and also became its executive chef. Oyo pitched his sandwich pop-up to owner Becca Brennan before protests started, and after the outcry happened, the Crown Heights native — who’d been working in the neighborhood for years and long wanted his own place — stayed on at Summerhill. The restaurant has been called a “boozy sandwich ship” and Oyo has “become the face,” says Neil Drumming, a Crown Heights resident and who produced a radio show about the spot. Following the call for a boycott, the chef reached out to friends to support the restaurant. The wall with fake bullet holes was painted over and a DJ has been added for most nights. People have come in droves, and now, Summerhill’s Instagram page is full of photos of mostly Black patrons. Still, that doesn’t mean all is perfect with Summerhill now. The change in business is heavy with politics, as Drumming finds. Brennan remains an owner and continues to profit. One of the women who helped organize the protests last year, Justine Stephens, won’t be going in — saying that Brennan’s “using [Oyo’s] blackness, in a way, to build this business and make it cool again, because of her mistake.”