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Food is Front and Center At Bed-Stuy's 'Mini Harlem Week'

By Sonja Sharp | September 27, 2012 1:44pm

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — It's do or dine in Bed-Stuy.

That's the unofficial motto for October's Bed-Stuy Alive! festival, an annual celebration of culture and community in one of Brooklyn's most storied neighborhoods.

This year, organizers say, it's all about the food.

"We are inviting the whole world to eat in Bed-Stuy," said organizer Brenda Fryson. "We have all the restaurants participating in our brochure — people can use it like a map to eat their way through the neighborhood."

Highlights include neighborhood hot spots Peaches Restaurant, Bedford Hill Coffee Bar and Bed-Vyne, among others, which have helped transform the neighborhood into a destination for discerning palates.

Fryson said organizers hope to draw a Harlem Week-style crowd to the festival, which kicks off with a street fair on Saturday, October 6 and closes on October 20 with the 34th annual House Tour, showcasing off some of Brooklyn's most beautiful brownstones. 

It's a far cry from the Bed-Stuy of legend, where crime long overshadowed culture.

"It’s definitely putting a brighter spin on the community, going away from the 'do or die' mantra that used to be more prevalent," said organizer Wayne Devonish. "It’s a community where you can work, you can live, you can raise a family. It’s not a bunch of hooligans — it’s people from all walks of life."

But even as the neighborhood celebrates its hardwon spot among the borough's up-and-comers,  organizers are at pains to point out that while the rest of the world may just now be waking up to it, Bedford-Stuyvesant has been blooming for years. 

"We’re talking a long, long, long line of home ownership and pride and overcoming redlining and poor city services and all those things people take advantage of now," Fryson said. 

Reading about Bed-Stuy, "it feels like the new folks that have come to the community have brought everything good, and that’s just not the case. They're coming to a neighborhood that’s in bloom."