The Hills Restaurant Reopening Highlights Guyanese Cuisine in East Flatbush


The Hills Restaurant, 4706 Church Avenue in East Flatbush celebrated its Grand ‘RE-OPENING’ Tuesday with the support of Community Board 17’s Commerce Committee Chairperson Hassan Bakiriddin, Brooklyn Level Up nonprofit, and other prominent elected officials. 

While The Hills Restaurant outside is unassuming; a short, transformative walk through the restaurant to its hidden backyard lounge, transports customers to the family reunion slow jam everyone’s been missing this summer. The backyard’s red fences and large white tents make for a secluded space fit for a small wedding rather than just a night out to eat at a socially-distanced restaurant.

Restaurant Owner Doris Rodney said she has been feeding the community and providing local jobs at her business for about 16 years.

“This is like a staple in the community,” she said, “A place where people can come and meet people from my country Guyana. Even people from different countries and islands – they come here because of the hospitality. It’s loving, a home away from home.”

Rodney is incredibly proud of her extra spicy, homestyle Guyanese cuisine and said that the cook up rice, the national dish of Guyana made with coconut milk and herbs and meats, is especially popular. 

“Once you come here and you’re hungry, we feed you,” she said.

The Hills spice pork, lo mein, bake and fresh salad. Photo by Ariama C. Long

Customers also enjoyed warm bakes, or a usually rounded slightly sweet dough that’s deep-fried, with saltfish, smoke herring, spinach or okra. The light, flaky fried whiting strips were delicious, and every meal tray was graced with a summer salad that had fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, celery, and mangoes.   

She said that they serve other key dishes from back home like chicken foot and cow foot soups, and of course, lo mein.  

“It’s an Asian dish, but Guyana has six [groups]. The Amerindians, East Indians, Afro-Guyanese, European Guyanese–the Portuguese, and Asian-Guyanese. So we have diversity in our dishes,” said Rodney explaining the different cultural influences in her food.

The country itself, similar to the U.S, has a stormy history with the enslavement of Blacks, forced labor on Indians, and colonial rule that led to bloody revolution and the establishment of a new electoral system in the 1960s. Guyana’s considered to be a  ‘melting pot’ representative of worldwide cultures and cuisines. 

Rodney said she’s currently renting the extra space for her restaurant and is unsure about the future. 

“With the winter coming, I don’t know what’s going to be the outcome with the outdoors. I’m praying to God we can put sides [on the tent], but I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Rodney. 

Patrons enjoying social distancing at the Hills spacious back outdoor seating area. Photo by Ariama C. Long

The backyard tents are a decent size holding multiple large round-tables, a DJ set up, and high tables comfortably. She points inside to the much smaller counter, bar, and ordering area. “In there, six feet apart is like two or three tables, so what am I going to do with that? So I’m crossing my fingers, and leaving it to the Mayor, the Governor, people’s discretion, and God,” said Rodney.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has wholeheartedly gone against reinstating indoor dining since restaurants were phased open in July, citing the need to keep the curve flattened and the coronavirus contained. 

Bakiriddin said that the highlighted restaurants have been doing well in the interim with outdoor dining and are appreciative of the initiative’s efforts.

Brooklyn Level Up Co-founder Allyson Martinez said that the restaurant support program, which was kicked off in July, has been checking in on other restaurants that have had reopenings as well. 

“We’ve launched a reintroduction to the The City of New York Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) Program to keep people up on new regulations and adjustments,” said Martinez about her organization’s liaison with different agencies and local business owners. “Some of them keep logs, and so little by little we’re building.” 

Martinez said that Brooklyn Level Up is now exploring programs focused on schools, capital funding, and economic and housing-related developments.

More from Around New York