Lots of events — from lots of groups — in booming Harlem

But are there too many associations in one neighborhood? Some think so — but  foodies are beneficiaries.

To make Harlem a restaurant destination, six different neighborhood groups  have carved up the neighborhood in a turf war of overlapping districts and  conflicting events.

The public is the beneficiary of this uptown food fight this month with  close to a dozen events such as booze tastings, chef throwdowns and bike eating  tours.

East Harlem shop owner Princess Jenkins of the Brownstone Boutique. Jenkins is part of the New Harlem East Merchant Association. She doesn’t mind all the different, overlapping business groups.

East Harlem shop owner Princess Jenkins of the Brownstone Boutique. Jenkins is part of the New Harlem East Merchant Association. She doesn’t mind all the different, overlapping business groups.

You’re forgiven if you get confused, what with so many groups — Harlem Park  to Park, West Harlem Food & Beverage Association, New Harlem East Merchant  Association, East Harlem Merchants Association, the Frederick Douglass Boulevard  Alliance and the West 125th Merchants’ Alliance — serving one neighborhood.

Harlem Park to Park is hosting four events during the next four weeks, while  the West Harlem Food & Beverage Association is throwing 10 bashes, included  the sherry tasting soirée this Saturday. And the East Harlem Merchants  Association has six events include next weekend’s “Harvest Bike Tour” where  cyclists can ride and get free samples at area eateries.

To some, it’s too many events from too many groups.

“There should be one strong merchants association representing the  community,” said Mahmut Mavrul, 50, owner of H&M Art and Home Decor on E.  125th St., which is geographically within four of the neighborhood’s six  groups.

“One strong merchants association could strengthen local business. If there  are two groups, it will create unnecessary competition. We don’t have enough  merchants for that. It will only weaken us.”

Boosters — times six! — say each group offers specific strengths. And  there’s more than enough territory to avoid turf wars.

“Harlem is really three distinct neighborhoods,” said Harlem Park to Park  founder Nikoa Evans-Hendricks, citing the gentrifying Central Harlem, the  Latino-flavored East Harlem and the Columbia University-dominated West  Harlem.

Evans-Hendricks started her group in 2009 — a few months after East Harlem  Merchants Associations was created. In 2012, West Harlem Food and Beverage, the  Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance and the New Harlem East Merchants  Association joined the mix. The latest addition — West 125th Merchants Alliance  — plans to start working with shops later in the fall.

“Time will tell which groups are sustainable and which are not,” said Savona  Bailey-McClain, head of West Harlem Food and Beverage, which overlaps with both  Harlem Park to Park and Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance.

Bailey-McClain claims her group is tailored specifically for restaurants,  unlike the others.

There are differences in each group’s fees, too.

Harlem Park to Park, for example, charges $300 a year while Frederick  Douglass Boulevard Alliance charges $125.

“Why is there so many?” said Susannah Koteen, owner of Lido an Italian  restaurant and co-founder of the Frederick Douglass group. “There is a new  Harlem Renaissance. And it’s a positive thing. It’s good to work as a group  rather do things on your own.”

She ought to know: Lido also belongs to Harlem Park to Park as well as  Koteen’s own group. The West Harlem Food and Beverage invited Koteen to join its  organization, but she said no.

Three groups for one restaurant were just too many, she said.

***

Here are some of the Harlem events this month:

l Oct. 5: Sherry Tasting (sponsored by West  Harlem Food & Beverage Association) l Oct.  10-13: Harlem Harvest Festival (sponsored by Harlem Park to Park). l Oct. 12: Lenox Ave. vs. Frederick Douglass Blvd. chef  battle (sponsored by Harlem Park to Park) l Oct. 17: Uptown Open (sponsored by the West 125th Business Improvement  District) l Oct. 23: Harlem Hospitality  Conference (sponsored by Harlem Park to Park) l Oct. 24: Sip & Smoke Night (sponsored by West Harlem Food & Beverage  Association) l Oct. 24: Teen Battle Chef  Cook-Off at Harlem Fairway Market (sponsored by the West 125th Business  Improvement District) l Oct. 25: Harlem Salsa  Fridays After Work at Dino BBQ (sponsored by the West 125th Business Improvement  District)

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/foodie-turf-war-harlem-article-1.1474605#ixzz2gtNEXlSn

By    AND       / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

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