East Flatbush eatery VIVID Caribbean American Bistro celebrated its fifth year in business on Thursday at a gala event at the restaurant. Despite the red carpet and photo backdrop, the family-oriented restaurant maintained the comfy, yet classy vibe it has become known for in the East Flatbush community.
Mother and son co-owners Angela and Kevin Atkinson said the past five years have been a learning experience, as this is the first restaurant the family has ventured into running together.
“When we got the business, it was a bar,” Angela Atkinson recalled. “But when we saw the place, we saw the vision. We saw that we can actually turn it into something where Clinton Hill and Manhattan come down to East Flatbush.”
The Atkinsons admitted that it was a challenge bringing the neighborhood on board with their vision. “We would stand outside and hand out flyers, like ‘Hey. Look, this is a restaurant. Come in,’ and people would just walk with their noses turned up because they knew it had been a bar for the last ten years,” said Kevin. “They’ve seen the transition and it feels good knowing that we’re finally here now. People know that VIVID is a restaurant in the community.”
Patrons Joan and Hassan Bakiriddin have made VIVID the go-to place for all of their meetings: “I came about a week after it opened because I needed a place to have a business meeting,” said Joan. “So I came in the middle of the day and we had lunch and that was it. It was history.”
The Bakiriddins now go to VIVID to host political club meetings, block association meetings and to enjoy the restaurant’s escoveitch tenders and vegetable fried rice.
Representatives from the office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also came out to celebrate the restaurant’s achievements, citing its commitment to culture and the community. Presenting the owners with a citation on behalf the borough president’s office, Director of Business Development Joshua Levin said, “I applaud them for capturing the excitement and flavor of the flourishing American Caribbean culture in the United States, serving a melting pot for fans of delicious eclectic foods and drinks.”
City Councilman Robert Cornegy echoed this sentiment, but also reminded people that they must continue to patronize small businesses like VIVID long after the festivities end: “One of the things we have to commit to as a people of color is patronizing our small businesses. So I’m not just here as an elected official. I’m about to make my way to the bar, make sure I can spend some money at the bar and get some food,” said Cornegy.
To top off its 5th anniversary weekend, VIVID held a Customer Appreciation Day on Saturday May 21, where they were treated to complimentary food and beverages, free giveaways and VIP table bottle service.