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Locals Blast Crown Heights Bar as ‘Racist’ With Signs on Nostrand Avenue

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Summerhill bragged about fake bullet holes in its “Instagrammable” space

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A sign posted near Summerhill in Crown Heights on Wednesday, July 19

A new “boozy sandwich shop” in Crown Heights that bragged about fake bullet holes as decor has locals fired up — and now, signs declaring that Summerhill is “racist,” “colonialist,” and a “gentrifier” are pasted all around the street near the bar.

Poles and boxes on several blocks around the restaurant at 673 Nostrand Avenue show the signs, which bear Summerhill’s logos and quotes from interviews owner Becca Brennan has given to Gothamist and real estate developer Hello Living.

One reads, “I was getting tired of walking to Franklin,” a reference to the former corporate tax attorney's motivation to open the bar in a less gentrified area of Crown Heights. Another line, not a quote from Brennan, says “literally owned by Becky,” a reference to slang used to describe generic white women.

It was not immediately clear who posted the signs (though if it was you, please reach out). Brennan did not respond to inquires about the controversy via phone. On Tuesday, she posted to Instagram a screenshot of the Eater story, specifically a line identifying her as white, with a joke about her tan, as well as a “thanks for all the internet love.”

The recently opened bar and restaurant blew up on Tuesday after stories ran revealing that Brennan was advertising it as “Instagrammable” partly due to a “bullet hole-ridden wall.” Brennan admitted to Gothamist that the holes were not in fact created by bullets.

Nostrand Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Atlantic is quickly gentrifying, and increasingly, bars and restaurants targeting young and primarily white new residents have opened. Summerhill may be the first business to capitalize on historic violence and poverty in Crown Heights as a point of the decor — making it an easy lightning rod for existing tensions.

People took to Summerhill’s Instagram and Yelp page to express their frustrations, saying that Brennan’s tactics felt like the business had the “sole purpose of ridiculing and mocking us.”

“[This] business now has multiple people in the comments saying 'This hurts. Here's how. Please stop’,” one commenter writes. “If they chose to not even engage in discussion to explain (and/or apologize) and to learn, they have shown their intention to harm us.”

Update: Locals plan to host a forum outside Summerhill on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. to talk about the issues surrounding the opening. All are welcome.

Take a look at some more of the signs below.

Update 2: Brennan issued an apology to Gothamist. "I truly never meant it in that way, but I recognize that it was insensitive,” she said. Read the full apology here.


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