Reprieve for a Small Biz on Flatbush Ave.?

Anthony Fongyit (Photo by Kadia Goba via Bklyner)

A popular ice cream shop and eatery that sits near the intersection of Flatbush Ave. and Fenimore St. in the “Little Caribbean” neighborhood of Brooklyn was threatened with eviction, and an online petition to keep it open was launched over the weekend. Now, reports Colin Mixson in Brooklyn Paper, Anthony Fongyit, owner of “Scoops and Plates,” may get a reprieve.

Landlord Lawrence Bernstein made contact with Scoops and Plates Eatery Owner Tony Fongyit Tuesday morning after previously ghosting his tenant for months, and then demanding he pack up and leave earlier this month, and the property owner confirmed via email that he’s now willing to negotiate a lease extension.

“Agents for the owners have reached out to… the tenant to have discussions regarding a possible lease renewal,” Bernstein wrote.

“Scoops,” which opened in 1984, is facing the same financial pressures confronting so many small businesses as landlords push for higher rents in NYC neighborhoods that are gentrifying. Owner Fongyit was current with his rent, but had reported difficulties in contacting the landlord, Kadia Goba reported earlier in Bklyner.

Owner Anthony “Scoops” Fongyit said he was ignored when he tried to negotiate a lease renewal with the new landlord nearly two and a half years ago.  In November, the rental agreement terms changed from a yearslong lease to month-to-month.  Then, on April 16, attorneys representing the uncommunicative landlord, Lawrence Bernstein of Jeremy Properties LLC, served Sweet Sops Inc. dba Scoops and Plates with a 30-day notice to vacate.

“It just makes me feel sad,” said Fongyit, 69, who emigrated from Trinidad in the 1960s. “I’ve had this place for years.”

Goba writes that Scoops opened with 24 Caribbean ice cream flavors, including soursop and mango, and that 15 years ago, Fongyit added vegetarian foods to his offerings. Neighborhood fans of “Scoops” sprang into action over the weekend to keep the 500 sq ft. eatery in the neighborhood.

Local organizations Parkside Empire Flatbush Avenue Merchants Association and non-profit advocacy group Impacct Brooklyn have tried to assist Fongyit. Dale Charles, director of economic development and commercial leasing at Impacct Brooklyn, was cheered by the latest development, but waiting to see “something in writing,” Brooklyn Paper writes.

Go to Bklyner to read more about how patrons contributed to the effort to keep “Scoops” open, and to learn the percent of businesses along the gentrifying Flatbush Ave. shuttered.

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