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Fall Brings New Faces, Old Flavors to Crown Heights

By Sonja Sharp | November 6, 2013 9:42am
  Pete Zaaz will take over Glass Shop, while new cafe Lazy Ibis opens with an old-school Caribbean twist. 
Glass Shop Gets New Owners, Lazy Ibis opens on Franklin Avenue
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CROWN HEIGHTS — They're game. 

The duo behind Lazy Ibis knew they were taking a risk opening another cafe on espresso-soaked Franklin Avenue — but the brand new restaurant's real test will come when it debuts its dinner menu of rabbit, venison and wild boar next month. 

"I’ve worked in the coffee shops and in the customer service business for 12 years, and I’ve seen most of everything that’s out there," owner Rapheal Bernadine said of cafe's unusual twist. "I just didn't want to do what everybody else is doing." 

Instead, Rapheal and husband/co-owner Rafael Bernadine hired executive chef Flannery Spring-Robinson to design a dinner menu around exotic wild game that is unlike anything else in the neighborhood.

"I think in this day and age, everyone’s selling the same thing, and you want to give someone something interesting to spend their money on," Bernadine said. 

"There is a risk of people not wanting to be as adventurous, but for the four that don’t, there’s six that do."

Their space at the corner of Franklin and St. Marks avenues is similarly eclectic, remixing the exposed brick and reclaimed wood aesthetic of the neighborhood's newest eateries with elements of the pair's Brooklyn-inflected Caribbean heritage. 

"People know their ingredients, they know the taste, so I prefer for it to be a place where everybody can come and have something," Bernadine said. "We wanted to do something that was familiar... things that people know from different regions, but done with a really interesting twist."

The cafe's eye-popping debut contrasts with the subtle takeover just around the block, where Classon Avenue's Pete Zaaz is preparing to absorb neighboring Glass Shop cafe into its popular pizzeria.

"We want to keep the Glass Shop the way it is," said new owner Roger Maini, who announced the handover to members of Community Board 8 at a Monday night meeting.

"We’re going to keep it as the Glass Shop during the day and we’re going to have seating for Pete Zaaz at night." 

Pete Zaaz plans to expand into Glass Shop's back yard while operating the cafe in its existing form — albeit with a few twists of its own, said co-owner Peter Entner. 

"The community really loves it," Entner said. "We've got some surprises in store."