Red Lobster set to make Harlem debut next to Apollo Theater

The Florida-based seafood chain will open its doors on Nov. 11 in a long-vacant  retail space. Small business owners believe they are being pushed out of the  neighborhood.

Red Lobster will join Starbucks, Gap, Citibank and many other large companies on the famous 125th st. block that also houses the Apollo Theater. Small business owners believe they are being forced out of the area, and residents believe an important part of their culture is being erased.

Red Lobster will join Starbucks, Gap, Citibank and many other large companies on the famous 125th st. block that also houses the Apollo Theater. Small business owners believe they are being forced out of the area, and residents believe an important part of their culture is being erased.

Move over, James Brown. Harlem’s about to get a brand new bag — and it looks  like this sack will be filled with popcorn shrimp.

The brand is sure to ring a bell, but until recently in this storied center  of African-Americana it would have been a little off-key.

It’s Red Lobster, and it’s soon to become the latest national chain to  relocate to historic 125th St. in a sleek, new retail space right next to the  legendary Apollo Theater.

The Florida-based seafood restaurant is expected to open Nov. 11. in a  long-vacant, three-story space between Frederick Douglass and Adam Clayton  Powell Jr. Blvds., which will eventually be shared by other retailers.

Other national chains on the main street include Starbucks, a Gap Outlet,  American Apparel and plenty of banks.

Mohamad Pullum, 46, sold jewelry for 14 years on 125th st. before the store, Mart 125, closed a decade ago. Pullum believes the corporate influx is robbing the community of its history.

Mohamad Pullum, 46, sold jewelry for 14 years on 125th st. before the store, Mart 125, closed a decade ago. Pullum believes the corporate influx is robbing the community of its history.

“Twenty years ago, this was Black Harlem. Now they’re raising the rent in  Harlem so people can’t afford it,” said Mohamad Pullum, 46, who worked at Mart  125 across the street from the Apollo Theater for 14 years selling jewelry,  before it closed a decade ago.

It’s not fair,” said Pullum. “We made Harlem, and now it is being taken over  by corporate companies like Red Lobster, Gap, Starbucks.”

 Small-business owners also sound the alarm, worrying that it is only a matter  of time before they are all pushed out.

A Prudential Douglas Elliman report in 2012 showed retail rents in Harlem  increased 33% from 2011 to 2012, from roughly $50 to $75 per square foot to  upwards of $100.

“The rent is going up like crazy. There are a lot of big people coming in  here like Red Lobster,” said Able Woodard who has owned All Eyes On Us Optical  with his wife for three years.

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” he added. “We don’t have a say.  Eventually, all the mom-and-pop stores are going to be out.”

Now, experts say, the homogenized new face of 125th St. is almost  complete.

A Gap Factory store sits across from The Apollo Theater and the adjacent Red Lobster currently being constructed. An American Apparel, Sprint and FedEx Office are among other corporate stores that also now occupy the famous Harlem block.

A Gap Factory store sits across from The Apollo Theater and the adjacent Red Lobster currently being constructed. An American Apparel, Sprint and FedEx Office are among other corporate stores that also now occupy the famous Harlem block.

I see 125th developing to resemble 34th St.,” said John McGuiness, a broker  with Harlem Properties. “I think Red Lobster is probably going to do very  well.”

“It’s almost like the uptown Times Square,” he said.

Business advocates attribute the shift to corporate recognition of West  Harlem’s high volume of foot traffic.

“We are averaging over 900,000 people a month on the corner of 125th St. and  Eighth Ave.,” said Barbara Askins, President and CEO of 125th St. Business  Alliance. “That kind of volume is going to be attractive to businesses.”

Chip Wade, a Red Lobster vice president, says the retail climate is perfect  for Harlem to start see-ing food differently.

“We’re excited to join the Harlem community, and hope that our restaurant and  the nearly 250 people we employ will be embraced by the community.”

jscarborough@nydailynews.com

By      / NEW YORK  DAILY NEWS

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/red-lobster-set-harlem-debut-apollo-theater-article-1.1477264#ixzz2gyZb5jm6

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