CROWN HEIGHTS, BROOKLYN – When a bizarre land battle forced Crown Heights institution Gloria to close in 2020, its staff knew the neighborhood wasn’t ready to give up its iconic Caribbean cuisine.
“[Neighbors] see us all the time and they say, “We really miss you,” said former Gloria manager Wayne Smith.
It wasn’t until recently, however, that Smith and others had the chance to do something about it.
Thanks to an investor who approached the employees last year, several Gloria employees opened a new restaurant down the block where the neighborhood staple had been for nearly two decades.
The new restaurant, called Gee’s Caribbean Restaurant, includes several former employees, the longtime chef of Gloria and Smith, who had run Gloria’s for 22 years, BK reader first reported. About half of the staff at the new restaurant are from Gloria, Smith said.
“We were all unemployed and we finally had the opportunity to do what we are used to doing, which is to serve the community,” he told Patch. “God is good.”
Gee’s opening in late December comes just over a year after Gloria was forced to close amid a multi-year battle for ownership of the 764 Nostrand Ave. building, which Gloria owners had bought without find out from someone who stole the deed, according to Gothamist at the time.
A judge ultimately ruled that Gloria’s daughter, Nicole Cumberbatch, must vacate the scene and pay $ 50 million in damages to the legal owner of the buildings.
The Gloria storefront was the third and most popular iteration of a Trinidadian restaurant established by Gloria Wilson in 1974, who passed the restaurant on to her daughter before her death in 2004.
The new restaurant has already attracted the enthusiastic attention of Gloria regulars.
“We can all be happy that the original staff, led by a former manager or Gloria’s, are back in action,” wrote a review on Yelp. “… This investor has really good taste.”
“… Go to 3 stores and you can’t miss that Big Red sign and the gentleman behind the cashier who looks very familiar,” another customer, Roger Myers, said on Facebook. “Congratulate him on their return to blaze another 20 years of great food.”