Revelations: Hibiscus Brew Cafe Nourishes Brooklyn Community With Island Flavors

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Sitting on Brooklyn’s iconic Flatbush Avenue, Hibiscus Brew serves nutritious food and colorful smoothies to its community. Owner Allison Dunn opened the wellness cafe during the COVID-19 pandemic, determined to make it work.

“I had no prior experience, but I had to figure it out at that moment, and I did, and here we are today,” she says.

Opening During a Global Pandemic

Dunn decided to open Hibiscus Brew after the pandemic forced her to close her home-organizing business. “I saw that this café was for sale, and I went after the opportunity,” she says. “I spoke to the owners, and within two weeks, this spot was mine. And two weeks after that, we were fully open after doing a renovation, figuring out the menu, doing everything.”

With no prior experience in running a café, Dunn had to learn best practices through trial and error. Yet, she always had a mind for business. “Growing up, I always wanted to own my business. I used to sell candy in high school, and it was such a joy to buy all the stuff that I needed and sell it back to the students,” she says.

Her inspiration came from her mother, who had her own small business making bagged juice. “I think it inspired me, and I think I’m coming back full circle where my mother started a drink company, and now I am bottling my sorrel that I have here for retail,” says Dunn.

Equipped with a background in marketing, the entrepreneur is blazing her own trail with her vibrant café.

Building Community Through Wellness

Since Hibiscus Brew opened its doors, the savvy business owner has refined the cafe’s menu to feature a core selection of neighborhood favorites like the Blue Power smoothie (for a boost of spirulina) and their signature sorrel drink (sorrel is a beloved ingredient across Caribbean cultures derived from the Roselle hibiscus flower), as well as seasonal menu items like their soursop smoothie.

“There’s a challenge every day, I think. Being an entrepreneur and running your business, every day I’m solving problems,” says Dunn.

Being able to open a café in her own neighborhood and create a menu that celebrates her Jamaican roots has been a meaningful endeavor for the Brooklyn resident.

“I started this business because I live in this community, and I noticed that it was changing. And I think if I did not make a move to start a business now, I might be priced out. And I really wanted to bring a piece of home here in Little Caribbean,” she shares.

Coming Full Circle

Now a fixture of the community, Hibiscus Brew delights not only locals but people visiting nearby attractions like the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Prospect Park.

“I think getting up every morning and knowing that I can put a smile on someone’s face inspires me, knowing that I could leave a legacy for my son, who is now five. That drives me. Success, leaving a legacy, and building my community,” says the sorrel mogul.

From opening a café during a global pandemic to receiving the Young, Gifted & Black Entrepreneurial Award earlier this year for her work not only as a businesswoman but a leader and innovator, Dunn seems to have come full circle since the start of her small business journey.

“Nothing comes easy, and if it does come easy, it goes easy,” the proud Jamaican says. “So work hard, dream big and don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. The moment you believe in yourself is the moment that everything is possible.”