Community leaders took the opportunity to highlight the local restaurant, with council members Alicka Ampry-Samuel and Farah Louis, Community Board 17’s Commerce Committee Chairperson Hassan Bakiriddin and community organization Brooklyn Level Up all turning up for the celebration.
“We don’t have a lot of jewels like Suede in Brooklyn, so we have to appreciate what we have, and we have to be able to invest in what we have, and that’s minority, women, Black-owned businesses,” Louis said.
Co-owned by St.Lucian matriarch Celia Pliadlyn and her two sons, Suede serves modern Caribbean from its East Flatbush location. At the reopening, guests were given free individually packaged and bagged sample meals and drinks in the restaurant’s outdoor seating area, which also included a BBQ and Jerk station, bar and fountain.
“The idea was to do something nice for the Black community so that our people have a nice place to go to without having to go across the Bridge,” Pliadlyn said.
Since Suede opened six years ago, it has been active within the community, donating food and supporting essential workers for years, in addition to its recently established Black Lives Matter scholarship and COVID-19 contributions.
The reopening event coincided with Suede’s 3rd Annual Teacher’s BBQ, an appreciation party for hardworking teachers in Brooklyn. Ampry-Samuel said the reopening was a great way to thank teachers for the risks they were taking amid the pandemic.
“Every single community is different, and so we were struggling before a pandemic,” Ampry-Samuel said.
“We always fought for more resources and more funding for our teachers, more counselors, more social workers, more mental health programming–and so clearly this has exacerbated everything, so we have to take that into consideration and have an equity lens as we’re fighting for our children.”