bajan in ny


Just over a week ago, happenstance gifted me a yesteryear experience that, like a seed planted in spring, led me to cultural flowers I will always appreciate.

I was on my way to the Appreciation Evening for our National Heroes, organized by the Council Of Barbadian Organizations (CBONY), and held at the Brooklyn Moon – a restaurant off Fulton and Lafayette, in Brooklyn.

Coconut Rob taking down cane juicing machine.
Coconut Rob taking down cane juicing machine.

When I saw Robert “Coconut Rob” Warner – a Trinidadian vendor with a heavy English accent – from whom I bought freshly pressed cane juice, about two years ago, I sought confirmation of the directions.

“Brooklyn Moon –– you are almost there, sir. Stay on your left. It is just a block away. That restaurant is owned by a Bajan. Look, that is his bicycle. He left it, over there!”

Did Coconut Rob remember me? I was sure he didn’t; yet he, without a prompt, revealed information about Michael Thompson that was authentic –– which I didn’t ask for. Truth be told, I couldn’t help laughing.

Thompson, owner of Brooklyn Moon
Michael Thompson, owner of Brooklyn Moon

“Go up the road and when you reach Ms Clarke, the lady that has five children and a shop, turn right, and keep going until you reach the stand pipe . . . .”

Born in Brooklyn to Bajan parents (father deceased and mother, Jean Skeete from Airy Hill), Robinson, the owner of Brooklyn Moon (19 years), loves to ride a bicycle.

“I get to see everything and learn about life. The bike is slower than the car and faster than walking. Brooklyn Moon reflects me. Everything I do is poetry, must have meaning, colour and texture. My bedroom tells a story. I am self-taught and developed this restaurant over the years. Once it was a place for poetry reading.”

Thompson believes that people are living outside of themselves and are in search of the world.

“We need to know who we are and let go of the past and let the future be. This is the reason I put love into whatever I do. I make sure that my patrons have a good experience in some way, and I believe that this brings them back to the restaurant.”

Interestingly, though born in America, Robinson, has used an old Bajan practice.

Yesteryear folk put a handle on empty Ovaltine cans. At Brooklyn Moon cocktails are served in recycled eight ounce Mason bottles.

Mason Jar with cocktails
Mason Jar with cocktails

The CBONY networking group –– including four new faces –– mingled and chatted in a cozy corner at the back of the restaurant. Chicken wings were clearly one of the favourite menu items. The Clyde Jones’ authored book – A Man And His Camera – was also part of the conversation.

Randy Brathwaite, president of CBONY, said that the Appreciation Evening had three main goals.

CBONY President Randy Brathwaite (left) and Thompson.
CBONY President Randy Brathwaite (left) and Thompson.

“We are trying to build an organizational culture that is inclusive, respectful of views, talent  and opinions, and interactive. We have not progressed as fast as I would have liked, but we are definitely, going in the right direction. National Heroes Day is a timely reminder of the sacrifice our Heroes and shows what it takes to create something of value.

“This Appreciation Evening also allows us to celebrate Barbados, support Brooklyn Moon, which is owned by a Bajan, build relationships among the executive and members, and allow interested persons to interact with us so that they can get an idea of who we are and what we do before joining us.”

Brathwaite, an attorney by profession, admitted that it was his membership of the Consul General’s advisory group that led him to become an active member of the organization. While expressing surprise at the change in Consul General, Brathwaite commended the outgoing Lennox Price for his collaborative approach and willingness to be open, among other things, and said:

“Consistent with the evening’s theme, The Council of Barbadian Organizations Inc. New York, CBONY, in conjunction with The Friends Of Barbados DLP Association, Inc. will be hosting an all-inclusive Appreciation Event for Honourable Lennox Price, Consul General of Barbados at New York, on Friday June 27, 2014, at 9 p.m., at Antun’s Caterers, on Springfield Boullevard, Queen’s Village.”

When I told Michael Thompson that I was writing a story about Brooklyn Moon, he immediately started to laugh and spontaneously said:

“My mother is going to love it.”

Interestingly, he never mentioned self, but saw his achievement through a parent that raised him. Truth be told, in the “village model”, the person who nurtured you can be anyone – female, male, aunt, uncle, or godparent. Is that why we widely celebrate Mother’s Day?


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