Shaking on Fulton

The Brooklyn Paper
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Downtown planners cheered this week as the Shake Shack, a Manhattan-based burger and ice cream chain, announced that it would open at the corner of the Fulton Mall and Adams Street, pushing aside Tony’s Famous Pizzeria, which has been there for decades.

The hungry excitement of Borough President Markowitz, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Joe Chan and others was particularly ironic, given that only one week earlier, the same coterie of insiders was heralding the 60th anniversary of Junior’s, the diner that commands the other end of the Fulton Mall.

Like Junior’s, Tony’s Pizzeria is popular, almost always busy and serves its customers well.

The main difference? Junior’s has a better PR operation. Tony’s has a landlord with dollar signs in his eyes.

Don’t misunderstand: We’re not romantic about Tony’s Famous. The pizza was average at best. The space cramped. And the countermen surly.

But customer service is a discussion for another day. The issue here is that Tony’s served blue-collar workers and the thousands of lower-income shoppers who have kept Fulton Mall alive for decades.

That’s a crucial Downtown demographic, but its not the demographic to which boosters like Markowitz, Chan and company care to cater.

Yes, big changes are coming to the Fulton Mall: H&M and Aeropostale are about to open, glitzier national chains are eyeing a way into the retail mix, and renovated buildings are starting to fill with thousands of new, upwardly mobile residents (all of whom are going to want to eat and drink at places a bit trendier than Tony’s).

It’s the classic New York story: The only constant in this city is change. But before we plaster over the past, it’s a good time to ask where Fulton Mall will end up when all the change is done. In endorsing the Manhattan burger interloper, Markowitz, Chan and company are putting themselves squarely on the side of Fulton Mall gentrification. Shake Shack’s prices will likely make it only a draw for white-collar workers, Marriott hotel guests and rich brownstoners — the very people who have long shunned the Fulton Mall as a shopping center.

Efforts to get affluent shoppers to Fulton Mall will no doubt help some businesses on the strip — but the end result will be a whiter, more expensive retail area.

So for now, that means that the Shake Shack beats Tony’s Famous. Next year, the mall could even land a Uniqlo. But at some point, a national retailer is going to push out Jimmy Jazz. And by then, it’ll be too late to worry about the shops that have kept Fulton Mall so prosperous for years. They’ll all be gone.

Updated 5:21 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

sal from coney island says:
Didn't Marty have a blockage a few years ago ? He doesn't look like he's following his doctor's advise with that burger in his hand with the milk shake in the other.
In fact he looks alot heavier than he did just a month ago.
Nov. 12, 2010, 12:48 pm
Ace from New Utrecht says:
A steady diet of Ratner lucre will do that to you.
Nov. 12, 2010, 3:30 pm
Sisteroo from Downtown says:
Woohoo shake shack! Can't wait.
Nov. 12, 2010, 5:45 pm
Kalahari Dessert from Ft. Greene says:
Marty is a poster boy for Brooklyn's future: fat, corporate, corrupt and ugly. One thing you can bet on too is that he'll keep asking his associate, Spike Lee to come from the Upper East Side with a milk stain on his lip to tell us about the old days.
Nov. 12, 2010, 5:46 pm
Office drone from Downtown says:
For the love of Pete can we PLEASE get some more lunch spots Downtown??? We can't get ONE Qdoba, Quiznos, Saladworks, Moe's Grill, Baja Fresh, Fuddruckers? I'm effing sick of Metro Cafe already
Nov. 12, 2010, 7:40 pm
nomohaight from Bed Stuy says:
Shake Burgers are tasty but small & overpriced. Although the targeted demographic(high earners) won't mind spending large sums for simple things,this is another step toward pricing out the lower income people who frequent the area for bargains. Before long ordinary working class folk won't be able buy lunch for lack of places to go. I say NO to four dollar coffees,six dollar burgers & two dollar bags of chips.
Nov. 12, 2010, 11:02 pm
Tony from Park Slope says:
Maybe BrooklynPapers should have a side bar with a running cumulative total of all articles mentioning or quoting Blowhard Markowitz and another running cumulative total of all picture of this douchebag. Is this a newspaper or some sort of cheerleading rag for Marty?
Nov. 13, 2010, 8:11 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
But where will Brooklyn's Best get gold grilles for their teefs?
Nov. 13, 2010, 10:49 am
gee from Fulton mall says:
Hey maybe the crime rate will go down like the milk shakes.
Nov. 13, 2010, 10:58 am
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Shake Shack is for lemmings.
Nov. 15, 2010, 9:22 am
Corey from Ft. Greene says:
I can't wait for all the changes to happen! Shake Shack is really gonna change the game for the whole Fulton Mall....the most obvious spill over is going to be right next door at the retail space the Muss is developing at the corner of Willoughby and Adams Street (345 Adams). Shake Shack is really about utilization of outdoor space and the outdoor plaze will be full with Bklyn Heights Brownstoners, Bk Law students, Metro Tech workers and the kind diners which will look great to the retailers the Muss is trying to attract.
Nov. 15, 2010, 10:31 am
Fulton Sheen from Downtown says:
As long as I can get a gold grill for my teefs on Fulton, there is no problem at all ...
Dec. 5, 2011, 10:49 pm

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