The End of Brooklyn’s Illegal Cottage Industries?

Brooklyn’s cottage industries—or perhaps more accurately, apartment industries—have been booming in recent years. There is nothing more quintessentially BroBo than heading to the farmers’ market or the backyard garden, picking out some fresh fruits and vegetables not to eat but to can, pickle and preserve, only to return to a neighboring flea market or boutique to sell these wares. Everything from handcrafted bitters to duck liver doggie treats has gotten the treatment.

Yet the bubble nearly burst when the city’s Health Department began cracking down on illicit lobster rolls and black-market beets. Those nogoodniks have already shut down a garden restaurant run out of the back of a brownstone as well as an artisanal market in Greenpoint. (The Times sure has a way of touting these places, leading to their almost immediate demise.)

The department now seems to be striking a compromise with artisanal vendors. It has changed laws to allow for group kitchens and even beekeeping, but problems persist. According to The Journal

Others have flaunted their illegality.

Ben Sargent, aka Dr. Claw, or the Lobster Pusher, became an underground sensation even after the Fire Department cracked down on the informal chowder and lobster-roll business he set up in his Greenpoint apartment.

Mr. Sargent said he never had to pay any fines and even landed a show on the Cooking Channel as a result of his initiative.

Whatever happened to live and let eat?

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo

The End of Brooklyn’s Illegal Cottage Industries?