The South Bronx—consisting of neighborhoods such as Mott Haven and Port Morris—is in the midst of a cultural renaissance that is likely to last longer than a New York minute. Streets such as Alexander Avenue and Lincoln Avenue are bustling with new and revived small businesses, many of which are owned by Latino and Black Bronx natives (and long-standing residents), like the popular hip-hop-themed eatery Beatstro and the only independently owned bookstore in the Bronx, The Lit. Bar. The sense of community and intentionality of these businesses creates a palpable positive energy felt when walking around the area.
In an ever-changing landscape, some refer to the Bronx as the last remnants of “real” New York City; part of that is from the people who have been around for a long time and who, together, have weathered obstacles that NYC has faced over the past years. I had the opportunity to check out an event called Meet the Neighbors at Sankofa Haus, a mixer and meeting of the minds of many of these local businesses and creative entrepreneurs in the South Bronx, and that same energy was present in the room. Read on to learn more about some of these small business owners in the South Bronx at the forefront of this momentum.
Amaurys Grullon, Bronx Native
127 Lincoln Ave., Bronx, NY 10454
Bronx Native is a concept store and brand that highlights, embraces and showcases everything the Bronx has to offer through art, media, apparel and events.
Why did you choose the South Bronx for your business location? “I always say I didn’t choose the Bronx, the Bronx chose me! Our business is the Bronx.”
How would you describe the energy of the South Bronx today? “The energy in the South Bronx is beautiful. Entrepreneurship and community at its finest. We are working together, striving together and winning together.”
Michael “DJ Spynfo” Eagan, Sankofa Haus
2422 Third Ave., Bronx, NY 10454
Sankofa Haus is a community-oriented social space that provides a neighborhood haven and nurtures the connection to Bronx and NYC residents through special events and programming.
Why did you choose the South Bronx for your business location? “I am a Bronx native, and it’s been my mission to create a unique space based on the hip-hop principles of peace, love, unity and having fun."
How would you describe the energy of the South Bronx today? “The South Bronx is packed with creatives and has an abundance of talent. We need more facilities to allow us to express ourselves while we continue to strive for greatness.”
Rosa Garcia, Rosa’s at Park
2568 Park Ave., Bronx, NY 10451
Rosa’s at Park is a Latina-owned Latin fusion restaurant at the Wingate by Wyndam hotel, with a popular brunch offering. Be sure to check out their recently opened rooftop.
Why did you choose the South Bronx for your business location? “I was the owner of the now-closed Mott Haven Bar & Grill, also in the Bronx. It’s the best place to be.”
How would you describe the energy of the South Bronx today? “Energy, eager for more and appreciative for where it’s going to be.”
Carlos Cortés, Chocobar Cortés
141 Alexander Ave., Bronx, NY 10454
Chocobar Cortés is the restaurant extension of legacy chocolate manufacturing company Chocolate Cortés, best known for its rich hot chocolate. The restaurant offers all-day chocolate-centric dining plus brunch on the weekend.
Why did you choose the South Bronx for your business location? “Most Puerto Ricans and Dominicans grew up enjoying the Chocolate Cortés brand. We wanted to go to where our community was, and the Bronx is the stronghold of the Puerto Rican and Dominican communities in New York. We love it here.”
How would you describe the energy of the South Bronx today? “Culturally vibrant with a tight community, the South Bronx represents the future of New York.”
Jeremy Batista and Angela Espinal, Bodega Truck
Various locations around NYC, centered in the Bronx
Bodega Truck serves up traditional and remixed versions of the chopped cheese, a classic Bronx sandwich, at sites across the City.
Why did you choose the South Bronx for your business location? “The Bronx is home, where we were born and raised.”
How would you describe the energy of the South Bronx today? “Lit! A lot of people give the Bronx a bad rap, but I’m here to let people know the Bronx is the best borough.”
Dr. Samuel Echezona, Guarionex Marte, Dr. Julian Isaacs and Vladymir Frederique,iNine Bistro
53 Bruckner Blvd., Bronx, NY 10454
iNine Bistro is a rustic neighborhood bistro with an outdoor garden oasis serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner in the heart of Port Morris.
Why did you choose the South Bronx for your business location? “We grew up in the Bronx and want to reinvest and serve the Bronx community.”
How would you describe the energy of the South Bronx today? “The South Bronx is reemerging quickly. It has electrifying and vibrant energy. We are all excited to be part of that change and looking forward to seeing the community reach its greatest potential in the future.”
Check out these other small businesses when walking around the area:
The Boogie Down Grind Cafe – hip-hop and jazz themed café
Bricks and Hops – beer garden
Bronx Draft House – beer garden
Bronx Loyal Mobile Barber – men’s grooming services
Ceetay – Asian fusion restaurant
Charlies Bar & Kitchen – New American restaurant with Latin and Southern influences
Don Carvajar – specialty coffee roaster
Famous Nobodys – clothing store
Francesco’s – modern New American restaurant
Hudson Smokehouse – barbecue smokehouse
Monte’s Brick Oven – brick-oven pizza
Port Morris Distillery – modern distillery offering Pitorro, a Puerto Rican liquor
Raze Up – smash therapy rooms