When it comes to commerce, it’s not always hipsters versus Hispanics in Bushwick.
The two worlds intersect amicably — and profitably — in a growing number of storefronts in the heavily immigrant neighborhood, which thousands of artists and other trendy newcomers have colonized. The tensions gentrification often generates in Brooklyn neighborhoods are in abeyance inside their doors.
“The old and the new converge here,” said Lou Lappin, 40, of Gotham City Lounge.
She and husband Ray Torrellas, a Bushwick resident with Puerto Rican roots, used to serve Corona beer to a purely Puerto Rican clientele and play reggaeton and Tito Puente. Then they started stocking hipster-fave Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, $2 per can, and added punk rock to their play list — and won enough customers to keep their Myrtle Ave. bar open six nights a week instead of two.
It did take time for artsy types to give Gotham City a try.
“They tell us they weren’t sure about the place,” said Torrellas, 46. “They saw my motorcycle parked out front and thought it was a biker bar.”
Comic-book writer Adriano Morais, 36, has no such qualms: “It’s cheap, it’s friendly and most of the people are artists of sorts,” he said.
Third-generation Bushwick resident Jesus Vazquez, 21, feels welcome as well.
“In here, everybody’s nice,” the Duane Reade cashier said. “They talk to you like they knew you for years.”
To be sure, some neighborhood hipster havens exist in a parallel universe apart from old-time, immigrant Bushwick.
At Roberta’s, a foodie-fave pizza-maker on Moore St., the owners just opened a separate restaurant called Blanca that charges $180 for dinner, not including wine. At Castle Braid, a Troutman St. apartment building populated by well-heeled artists and musicians, there’s a digital media room for tenants to work in.
But hipsters and Hispanic immigrants mingle elsewhere — like the Associated Supermarket on Knickerbocker Ave., which in deference to the newcomers stocks $2.49 slabs of organic tofu and $3.99 packages of organic basil garlic polenta.
At Central Cafe, an artists’ magnet that serves $1.75 cups of Intelligentsia coffee from a coffee roaster that passes muster with the cool crowd, Hispanics were largely absent from the customer lineup until recently.
“Bodega coffee is 75 cents; it’s Bustelo and they’re used to it,” said Leticia Castillo, who owns the Central Ave. nosh spot with best friend Carmen Valerio.
But the word’s gotten around that the women are Dominicans who grew up in the neighborhood, and more Hispanics are starting to come by.
The ethnic fare is the real deal at Irving Ave. eatery Guacuco; Venezuelan immigrant Leonardo Molina brought his mom from home to make arepas, toasted cornmeal treats with tasty fillings.
But the vibe is young and trendy thanks to exposed-brick walls and a modern-art mural inside — and so are the diners.
“Most of my customers don’t speak Spanish. I’m glad I worked on my English,” said Molina, 28, who took English as a second language when he came to the United States.
When Ecuadorian immigrant Julio Hugo, 41, opened El Mio Cid, he expected fellow Hispanics to be drawn to its traditional fare from Spain. The Starr St. restaurant languished.
Hoping to pull in the young and the hip, he added a tapas menu, built a sleek, backlit bar and let a local artist paint bold murals on the outside walls.
Business got much better.
“Vivan los artistas!” he said. by Lore Croghan [Daily News]