Right on the corner of Frederic Douglass Boulevard and 118th Street lies Harlem Burger, a black painted store front with an Art Deco style banner and a decidedly environmental conscience.
Creative and affordable, its interesting menu features only ‘natural’ meat from the Niman Ranch. Perhaps putting your moniker on your product ensures truth in advertising, and so the claim to natural, vegetarian feed for those blessed animals, while alive, is likely true.
Frequently this kind of meat is a more expensive option but in this case, not so. Nearly all offerings are ± $10, mostly minus. For example, the Company Burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon and egg (+$1.50) rings in at $10 on the nose, while all beef hot dogs (Hosin, Cilantro, Crispy Pork, Scallion and Spicy Mao) ring in at $6.50; add chilli and bacon for $1.50.
This strip is undergoing gentrification that has stimulated new black-owned businesses that attract the gentrifiers, who are mostly white. I attended a ‘town hall’ meeting at the Apollo Theater recently that addressed this issue and it was clear it is a bittersweet circumstance, especially to native lower income residents, of whom there are many. The outcome of federal mid-term elections will affect all of them and was the topic of the meeting.
So, Lee Lee’s, Harlem Burger and Les Ambassades represent the bright side of things. To those who are priced out, it represents the dark side. Regardless, patronizing these businesses is an important and correct thing to do.