Minority-owned businesses have been hit hard over the past year, so this Black History Month, Alumni is going to highlight local Black-owned businesses that you should support if you can.
Alumni is also donating half of the proceeds from our in-house collection of apparel and accessories to Building Black Bed Stuy. The other half of the proceeds will be donated to Welcome to Chinatown's Longevity Fund in observation of Lunar New Year and to alleviate some of the tremendous stress Chinese businesses have endured.
Husband and wife Mike and Nicole Nicholas recently opened Aunts Et Uncles, a lifestyle concept shop serving plant-based food and drink in a space designed to let conversation and imagination flourish. We were able to talk with Mike about opening a spot in his home neighborhood of Flatbush.
What should people expect when they visit Aunts et Uncles?
When people visit Aunts et Uncles they should expect a multi-sensorial experience; stimulating the mind and body with our signature smell, simple yet complex decor, soulful playlist, amazing bites.
Building this here is a big deal for us, because making it out of the hood isn’t sustainable for the community—making it IN, is.
What are the dishes and/or drinks that you’re most excited about serving?
I would say we are excited about serving our homemade Sorrel and Ginger Cucumber Juice. As far as food goes we are proud to serve our roasted cauliflower dish, All Green Everything (asparagus, okra, Brussels) and our Lobster Roll. They are great examples of how we use whole food and soy-free, dairy-free and meat-free options.
We’ve spoken before about how it was only after you went to college in Florida that you really appreciated the opportunities in Flatbush. Could you talk about what it means to you to build a business with your wife back home in Brooklyn with the mission “Make It In”?
Flatbush is our home base, and making it “out” isn’t the message we want to embody. I mean, we have it all here: the 9-5ers, innovators, disruptors, history-makers, creators, socialites, culture-shifters. There are all sorts of people here with big vision but no real place in the neighborhood outside their homes to build it out.
What we are building... is a place that speaks to us on a frequency of ownership… that provides resources and atmosphere that puts us in that headspace. Aunts et Uncles will be a space right here in Flatbush that encourages us to think and imagine differently while providing the warmth of family-style hospitality. Building this here is a big deal for us, because making it out of the hood isn’t sustainable for the community—making it IN, is.
“Support Black Businesses” has become a popular slogan. What does it mean to you beyond a saying or hashtag?
Supporting Black business has always been embedded in my DNA. My family owned ice cream stores, convenience shops, food markets, film companies, music studios, construction companies and architectural firms. The support of those businesses directly affected our family’s livelihood. So, we are products of those endeavors and that supersedes any hashtags.
What would you say to someone who wanted to start a restaurant of their own?