From Bollywood movies and Sikh martial arts to eggplant with roti, from Punjab to Guyana, Richmond Hill offers a rich patchwork of food, culture and commerce.
In an effort to stimulate the economy of the South Queens neighborhood, the Queens Economic Development Corp. released a new video tour and tourism guide called “We are Richmond Hill: A Look into the Faces and Flavors of the Neighborhood” last week.
The message: It’s underexplored but fascinating and vibrant.
The new guide is the most recent effort of the QEDC and the city’s Small Business Services through a commercial revitalization program the agencies began in summer 2019 to support small businesses on Liberty Avenue and 101st Avenue, between Woodhaven Boulevard and the Van Wyck Expressway, in Richmond Hill.
Over the winter the QEDC released a report on some of Richmond Hill’s business corridors, which analyzed the neighborhood’s shopping and industrial centers and identified sanitation and marketing as challenges that are holding the neighborhood back.
The video and guide introduce a variety of neighborhood faces and businesses that are sure to attract the attention of the culturally curious.
Lakshmee Singh, host of the popular online TV show “Let’s Talk With Lakshmee” and a Guyanese community leader, introduces the viewers to Sybil’s bakery, known for its tennis rolls and pine tarts, in addition to other savory traditional dishes, whose yellow exterior is a landmark of the neighborhood.
Raj Dutt, the owner of Rishi Video Palace, a business that rents and sells the films of Bollywood, the Indian Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, told the QEDC that the movies act as a bridge between the Punjabi and Guyanese populations that coexist in the area.
“Yes of course they like the same movies, remember they came from India,” Dutt said about his Guyanese customers.
Sam Smouha, a QEDC program manager, pointed out how important it is to support the neighborhood in its recovery after it had one of the highest Covid rates during the second wave, and lacked testing centers and vaccine access when they first became available in the city.
“It’s definitely ... a hard-hit area. So part of what we’re doing is highlighting the businesses and promoting local tourism and to keep assisting these businesses that are trying to recover,” he told the Chronicle.
To watch the video and read through the guide visit queensny.org/rhg.