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Franklin Avenue Family Expands Edible Empire Across Eastern Parkway

By Sonja Sharp | July 3, 2013 9:44am
 After 40 years on Franklin Avenue, Tony Fisher extends his popular brand into uncharted territory
Franklin Avenue's The Pulp and The Bean Opens New Location Across Eastern Parkway
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CROWN HEIGHTS — Franklin Avenue is about to get a double-shot of Tony Fisher. 

The longtime Crown Heights grocer, who owns bustling Bob and Betty's market and the Pulp and the Bean cafe, is expanding his family's 40-year-old edible empire across Eastern Parkway this month, with the long-awaited opening of a bigger, better Pulp and Bean less than three blocks from the original.

"My new offerings are going to be out of this world," Fisher said of the extended menu at the larger south side cafe, which he expects to open next week. "We're going to have Belgian waffles, wraps, salads," in addition to the coffee and bagels on offer at the original location.  

The new Franklin Avenue establishment has drawn special interest from locals for its location just south of Union Street: While new cafes and restaurants open almost every week in northern Crown Heights, the neighborhood's dramatic transformation is all but invisible just south of the Parkway.  

"It's close, but it's a different world," Fisher said. "I spent my whole life in this area, so to see one side of Eastern Parkway excelling and another suffering from stagnation, it hurts me." 

Just as the original Pulp and Bean heralded major changes to come in the north — Fisher said people laughed at him when he opened just next to the express train in 2009 — many neighborhood watchers expect the new one to bring more visible transition to southern Crown Heights, especially after a similarly expansive version of Bob and Betty's follows later this year.

"If you go into my store, the type of product I offer here is not available on the other side of Eastern Parkway," Fisher said. "There are a lot of people who live on that side and have lived there for 30 years — they'll walk three blocks to come to this store."

Despite the proximity of the twin establishments — a sharp eye can almost see one from the doorstep of the other — Fisher said he decided to keep the name the same so his customers would know to expect the same quality of service. 

"People who live in this neighborhood recognize the name Bob and Betty's, they appreciate the story, and there's a level of expectation," Fisher said. "Our life as a family growing up was always about this business." 

Though he had offers to take that name elsewhere, he said he knew his next big move would be on Franklin Avenue. 

"I had landlords offer a year's free rent to open on Nostrand Avenue,"  Fisher said. "But my heart is on Franklin."