In a tiny restaurant with an impossibly small kitchen, two business owners are closing up for the night. The Islands, a neighborhood Caribbean restaurant near the intersection of Washington Ave. and Eastern Parkway, has become a staple of a rapidly changing section of Brooklyn and, in some ways, a reflection of Washington Ave. Yesterday, the doors closed on the famous location to make room for a new condominium. The owners, Marilyn Reid and Shawn Leitchford, plan to reopen a much larger location a few blocks down Washington.
“This street right here is the end of Crown Heights and where Prospect Heights begins. Washington is unlike any other street in the neighborhood.” Marilyn says, when asked about why they stayed on the same street when opening the new location.
For 16 years, Marilyn and Shawn have been cooking sumptuous Jamaican dinners in a restaurant only 220 square feet in total, and that includes a dining area upstairs which seats about 20. During past summers the front have doors remained open and a few tables were placed outside for additional space. The restaurants’ tiny size has, in part, lent to its word of mouth popularity, a factor which helped keep the doors of the establishment open for nearly two decades. I tell Marilyn that when I moved to the neighborhood several years ago The Islands was often listed as one of the primary highlights right behind Prospect Park. (more…)