Photo Credit: Photo by Godisable Jacob
Visit These Black-Owned Businesses Based In The Bronx
Are you visiting New York? “The Boogie Down” Bronx is often eclipsed by its sisters, but don’t let anybody tell you it’s less valuable.
In addition to being the home of the New York Yankees, The Bronx is the birthplace of hip-hop, and it’s the most “green” of the boroughs. It’s also the third most densely populated county in the United States.
The history of The Bronx isn’t free from hardship. In its early days, there was a high concentration of Italian, Irish, and Jewish residents, until the “white flight” pushed them to outside areas. That opened the door for Black and brown people to move there. During the prohibition, it was a playground for bootleggers, and in the 1970s, the Bronx fell victim to many fires. While, on the surface, it seemed like these fires were unhappy accidents, it was later revealed that many were deliberately set.
Past and present challenges aside, The Bronx is a survivor, thanks in no small part to residents of color. From chefs to artists, there are so many reasons to give this borough a chance.
Consider showing love to these Bronx-based businesses.
Brunch at Zion’s
After you’ve taken a walk around the track by Yankee Stadium, head to Brunch at Zion‘s on 13 Canal Place. Here, guests can enjoy Caribbean and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, with a touch of the South.
Chrystina Casado, founder and chef, was very intentional in how she designed the restaurant. This isn’t just a place to eat, it’s a healing space with Black and brown people in mind. The walls feature work by artists of color, and the music is usually afrobeats or something similar.
If you’re in The Bronx for a short time, grab a coffee or tea, and pair it with one of the desserts. The Hot Monkey Love brownie and Bronx Blackout Cake pudding will beckon to you from the display case. That’s only a fraction of what’s available. On request, the cupcakes can be infused with alcohol or be made into mini versions.
If you’re looking to dine with a capital “D,” your taste buds are in for a ride. Everything is made to order, like the waffles topped with nutella, Fruity Pebbles and fresh fruit. The fried fish and grits are a nod to the South, and the Parmesan cilantro chicken is a tasty protein to add to the salads. There’s also curry chicken, empanadas and oxtail, which are available on request.
Brunch at Zion’s offers catering services as well. You can find information about that here.
Lastly, keep an eye out for Zion, the pint-sized CEO. He’ll make an appearance from time to time to mingle with customers and help his mama.
Juices for Life
There’s a high concentration of smoothie shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn. However, this Black-owned business is the place to go in The Bronx for smoothies, fresh fruit juices and vegetable juices.
Here, healthy living is prioritized, and the Instagram feed is filled with smiling people enjoying their drink of choice.
One customer called the shop “a diamond in the Bronx.” A second reviewer considers it the best juice spot they’ve ever patronized.
The Lit Bar
Bookstore and chill, anyone? The Lit Bar calls itself “the official bookstore of Wakanda and The Bronx.” It isn’t just Black, but Blackity-Black, and it celebrates that at every opportunity.
The founder, Noëlle Santos, opened her business in 2019, and there’s no place like it in the borough. This is a great spot to interact with others, or quietly settle down with a good book and some wine. Treat yourself to French toast, Belgian waffles and different flavors of popcorn.
The Lit Bar has attracted many influential people to the establishment both in person and online. Barack Obama virtually visited. Omarion signed copies of his book there. Pinky Cole, founder of Slutty Vegan, appeared at the shop for a sold-out event. Other visitors have been Fat Joe and Jennifer Lopez.
Outside the shop, there’s painting of a little girl spray painting the message “reach the world, but touch the hood first.”
Aiki — Visual Artist
Born in Chicago and based in The Bronx, Aiki is a woman of the world. She’s spent time around the world, including France, Italy and Jamaica. Nowadays, you’ll find her in her studio in Port Morris, a neighborhood in the Bronx, hard at work on her next masterpiece. Her preferred mediums are acrylic, ink and watercolor, and she takes commissions if the concept is of interest.
Aiki has displayed her work at Riverfront Gallery in Yonkers and will be doing a talk for Women’s History Month at Brunch at Zion’s. As it happens, four of Aiki’s pieces are on display there.
“I began drawing as a kid,” Aiki told Travel Noire. “I loved horses and drew them all the time. When I was 13, I met my cousin, Elizabeth Catlett, a renowned Black woman sculptor and print maker. We had her prints in our home.”
In 1962, Aiki took up a brush full time and hasn’t put it down since. Her paintings are energetic blasts of color, where the female form is often at the forefront. She draws heavily from African and indigenous symbolism.
“I’m working on an in-studio show of a big installation I’m finishing up,” she said. “I’m open to any ideas for showing my work.”
Adom African Cuisine
For a taste of The Motherland in The Bronx, check out Adom African Cuisine. There are a number of rice dishes, including Jollof, Waakye, White Rice and Palava Sauce and more. All are served with your choice of meat or fish.
Other tasty items, include Kele Wele (spicy, fried plantains), Banku with tilapia and pepper sauce, and Kenkey with okra stew. You can dine in or have them cater for your special event.
Located on East Tremont Avenue, Adom African Cuisine has been in the food business for the past 25 years.