Tropical Paradise Reopens as Blacks Continue Supporting Black Business


Tropical Paradise jumped back into the frying pan this weekend with a festive relaunch and free food giveaway as part of the Grand ‘Re-Opening’ series that Black lawmakers, civic leaders and non-profits are sponsoring.

Among the elected officials celebrating the return of the eatery, 888 Utica Avenue in East Flatbush, included U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn), State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace) and City Councilwoman Farah Louis (D-East Flatbush, Flatbush, Flatlands, Marine Park, Midwood). The Community Board 17 Commerce Committee and the non-profit Brooklyn Level Up were the main sponsors.

Owner David Gayle Jr. and Linden Clarke, director of operations at Tropical Paradise, passed out sweet sorrel, jambalaya, and spiced shrimp to people at the little shop just behind the bus stop, marked for the day with a huge balloon archway.   

“Where we are, our location, is right in the heart of my district and Tropical Paradise in this community is a brand. It’s not simply the name of a restaurant or a catering hall, it’s a brand associated with family, good times, and good food,” said Parker. “It’s been amazing to be part of the journey that David Gayle Jr. and his family have been in, in terms of expanding that brand and bringing more and more economic opportunity and good service to our community.” 

Senator Kevin Parker eyes a plate while Linden Clarke shows off the new cajun menu. Photo by Ariama C. Long

Parker said in the midst of COVID a restaurant opening shows optimism and endurance where so many others have closed.

According to a survey, recently released Monday by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, 233 small businesses in Brooklyn reported that a little over half would struggle to stay open over the next three months.

Small business owners in the survey said major contributing factors to their potential closings were reduced consumer spending in the first week of reopening and the impending rent crisis.

This comes at a time when the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) just started taking applications again on July 6, and extended its deadline under presidential decree until August 8. 

Although a dearth of funding for Black and women-owned businesses initially stained the PPP back in May, it’s since tried to target the same demographics it largely left behind the first go around.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke

“We are trying to encourage and get the word out to many of our entrepreneurs that the funds are still open, and they really need to avail themselves as they rebuild and begin reopening,” said Clarke in regards to the Small Business Administration (SBA) programming, “And I want to suggest that people go to our community-based chambers of commerce, community development corporations, and community banks because they understand what the trials and tribulations are for mom and pop establishments like this.” 

Clarke said to reach out to technical assistance because she understands the applications can be complicated. But even if you got turned down initially, she said, apply again because the money is still there. 

Rachel Goodfriend, co-founder of Brooklyn Level Up, said that their partnership with the community board for the Suede and Tropical Paradise restaurant celebrations was to uplift the community by closing some of the gaps to industry knowledge and funding access for small businesses and residents.

“Without breaking down those barriers to entry and providing continued support and economic development initiatives, we would lose the people and businesses that have kept the East Flatbush Caribbean community connected and strong,” said Goodfriend.

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