In efforts to keep my words of saving a section of my blog dedicated to Harlem, last week after work, I took my brand new camera up the block to Chocolat, a restaurant/bar near my apartment to see what I might find. The main thing that lead me to visit Chocolat was the “Happy Hour” sign I read by the entrance just a few days before while walking to a local Ethiopian restaurant with some friends. The sign captured everyone’s attention with its reasonable specials (by Manhattan standards anyway) at $5/beers and wines and $7 martinis. I figured it really wouldn’t hurt to stop by some time. So, I asked my vivacious friend, Aissata to meet me there for some happy hour cocktails and fun conversations.
Chocolat offers new American cuisine for lunch, dinner, and brunch on the weekends. Its modern decor is simple and chic. The exterior is very clean and welcoming. I could see a small crowd from outside enjoying some drinks and hors d’oeuvres as I got my camera ready. I was just outside taking some pictures when I met a very friendly woman who practically grabbed my hand and lead me inside.
It turned out that the lady who amiably pulled me in was an organizer of a non-profit organization, Better Baller Athletics, and they were just in the middle of a happy-hour fundraiser She introduced me to Alexis, one of the founders and CEO of the organization, and she quickly informed me about their project while offering me two complimentary drink tickets. That all happened within thirty seconds of me just taking pictures outside of the venue. And you wonder why I love Harlem?
Over drinks and some mingling, I learned Better Baller Athletics is a non-profit organization keeping young student-athletes in mind with the initiative of helping them perform well both academically and athletically. They want the word “student” to play an important role in the term “student-athlete”. While they go through extensive training with the young athletes on the basketball court, they spend a fair amount of time helping them with academic work, and preparing them for college. “We go so much further than just tutoring them, we help them get to college!”, exclaimed one of the organizers. How amazing is that? I love the fact that they’re helping the kids pursue their dreams while motivating them to take their studies seriously. I think programs like that is exactly what our youths from the inner city need. Click here to visit their website!
I had a fun time at Chocolat that night. I enjoyed the decor and drinks, and I adored the two women I spoke with. My only problem was that it took an extremely long time for cocktails to be made. I watched as the two bartenders struggled with the small crowd around the bar with uninterested expressions tattooed on their faces. They looked almost discouraged as if the happy hour strained all energy and smiles from them. Don’t they understand the idea of a happy hour special is to pull guests in who normally wouldn’t become patrons in the hopes of them returning in the future even when they’re not serving specials? I will return when they’re not hosting an event to see if the attitudes change, and I will come back for an update on Chocolat Restaurant Bar.
Aissata and I kept the night going by visiting Shrine, Ginny’s, and Corner Social. Stay tuned for more Harlem Posts!