A special outdoor dining pavilion in Harlem supports Black-owned businesses

December 28, 2020

Parklet designed by Brandt:Haferd for The Row and Alibi Lounge. All photos by New Kingston Media

The stately brick homes lining West 138th and 139th Streets between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Frederick Douglass Boulevards are known as Strivers’ Row. The historic Harlem enclave was once home to prominent, wealthy African-American performers, artists, and professionals. More than 100 years later, the neighborhood is once again leading the community with a new outdoor dining and recreation corridor that supports Black-owned businesses. Called the Renaissance Pavilion at Strivers’ Row, the winterized outdoor setup will help local businesses and restaurants serve customers safely through April of next year.

The Renaissance Pavilion is presented by Uber Eats. It stretches along the blocks of 137th to 139th streets on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and was designed by local firm WXY architecture + urban design and innovative scaffolding company Urban Umbrella.

Their custom-designed, heated parklets (outdoor dining structures that are located in parking spaces) have been set up for six independent Black-owned restaurants and businesses: Ruby’s Vintage, Sexy Taco, The Row, Alibi, Ma Smith’s Dessert Café, and Harlem Chocolate Factory.

The parklet designed for Alibi Lounge by Brandt:Haferd, photo by New Kingston Media

Each parklet was designed by a Harlem-based architecture team. They all offer “custom design and weatherizing elements to accommodate for heat, snow loads and proper social distancing,” according to a press release.

Harlem-based architecture and planning firm Body Lawson Associates designed the parklet outside Ruby’s Vintage using recycled materials set atop reclaimed, upcycled wood shipping palettes with fixed seating inside. “It’s good for the city. It gives hard-hit businesses a national presence and delivers new spaces for people to gather outside their homes during the cold winter months of such an unprecedented year,” said BLA founder and principal Victor Body-Lawson, AIA.

Outside Ruby’s Vintage, there’s a scaffolding structure with artwork by Dianne Smith and a parklet. Photo by New Kingston Media.

In addition, the two Urban Umbrella scaffolding structures were also designed to hold snow loads and are “equipped with heaters and side panels to provide warmth and an extended ability to serve customers safely outdoors.”

Each structure has been paired with artwork by one of six commissioned artists, each of whom also worked on the Harlem Black Lives Matter mural in July. They are Dianne SmithLeRone Wilson, Jason WallaceThomas Heath, Omo Misha, and Guy Stanley Philoche. The entire corridor features “elaborate lighting and atmospheric design” by Harlem-based set, event, and lighting designer Ron Hansford.

Along with the restaurants, the 32 independent small NYC businesses–including architects, artists, producers, creatives, and merchants–who helped make the project possible are 84 percent Black-owned. The other collaborators who worked with Uber Eats to make the project possible are: Nikoa Evans of Harlem Park to Park, Valerie Wilson of Valinc PR, and EatOkra.

Parklet designed by Brandt:Haferd for The Row and Alibi Lounge. Photos by New Kingston Media

For the next six months, the Pavilion will offer community programming including pop-up tastings, family activities, entertainment, and salon series through the various businesses.

Programming along the Pavilion will feature a six-month schedule of activities and events that include pop-up tastings, family activities, entertainment, and salon series throughout the various businesses. The goal is to drive traffic to the corridor and support Harlem’s significant network of black businesses throughout the duration of the activation.

“Harlem Park to Park represents over 250 small businesses in the community, at least 50 percent of them being Black-owned restaurants. This activation presents unique opportunities for us to support the businesses that will have an incredible impact on not only how they survive but also how they can thrive in the midst of these challenges,” Evans said.


All photos by New Kingston Media

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