BY Claudio Cabrera
How long have you lived uptown?
Where did you grow up?
187 and Fort Washington
What can you tell me about that block?
For the most part, it has always been pretty quiet. It was great playing ball in front of the building, riding my bike to the park, and hearing my mom yelling for me to come in for dinner. Great memories.
How does Uptown differ from when you were growing up?
Things have definitely changed for the better. New residents, restaurants, bars; the change is great. I would love for us to compete with the Williamsburg’s, LES’s and Chelsea.
What did you do before owning your wine and burger bar, Locksmith?
I delivered seafood for three years and then I joined the Local 157 Carpenters (construction). I saved all my pennies and was able to invest into my neighborhood with Locksmith.
Who inspired you to open your own establishment?
When I was about 21, I was inspired by the guy I use to work for at the time; he came from the bottom and made his way up. He was just a simple guy who wanted to make it. I sat back and learned from watching his work ethic.
Is this your first business?
Locksmith is my first born and hopefully not my last *knock on wood*.
Tell me about growing up in the Heights
Growing up in the Heights, you go to two schools – the street and your public school; and despite what everyone may think or say, everything you learn in the streets isn’t bad. Unfortunately, I never finished high school, but Uptown made me not want to just give up and quit. We are stronger than that up here! We don’t like to settle.
What are some of your favorite neighborhood spots?
I really enjoy Arka Lounge on the nightlife tip, and the jazz at 181 Cabrini. But one of my favorite places uptown is The Monkey Room. I have been going there since it was a candy store named Fred’s (may he rest in peace). It’s always funny to me when people ask me what I’m doing there and why I’m not at Locksmith. That place has been a part of me since my childhood, even when it wasn’t Monkey Room.
Where do you like to go to get away and be alone in our neighborhood?
Nothing tops 187 and Chittenden Avenue; best view in the city.
Describe the Heights and Inwood in three words.
Diverse, underrated, and changing.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still here, but hopefully in an apartment with an elevator and two bedrooms. But most importantly, still growing and accepting myself for who I am.