When we stumbled upon The Edge, a quaint restaurant tucked away on the corner of a residential corridor in the heart of Harlem's Sugar Hill, we knew we'd found a neighborhood gem! Owned and operated by sisters, Juliet & Justine, The Edge instantly draws you in with its cozy, rustic decor and amazing food - a fusion of Jamaican, American and English inspired small plates and specials.
Juliet & Justine are native New Yorkers and have lived in the community of Harlem, specifically Hamilton Heights, for the last 16 years. During that span they noticed that Harlem was beginning to get more populated and there was an element missing in the amenities section. "There weren’t a lot of restaurants north of 125th St., where they were developing south of 125th. So we thought it would be great to open something." The two focused on creating a dining-in spot with good food, good drinks, and a nice vibe in line with what they liked. Their energy is infectious and is the heart of what makes the business so successful. They care about their customers and staff...and it shows.
We quickly fell in love with the brunch the first time we discovered The Edge. So much so, we returned the next weekend for dinner and brought along some friends! The food, decor, and ambiance is just that special. So featuring them on Cur8 Home (our first commercial space), was a no brainer.
We returned on a breezy summer afternoon to chat with Juliet & Justine, who shared the inspiration behind The Edge and the passion that keeps it going...
"The Edge" is very unique for us because its meaning is multilayered. We were inspired by one of our favorite poems titled, Come to the Edge, by Christopher Logue. The fact that our restaurant sits on the corner (edge) of Edgecombe Avenue is also poetic in and of itself.
We wanted to create a physical space that was cozy, because when you enter you're stepping down into the restaurant. The space was curated over time with elements that were neither overdone or overthought. We took care in making sure our space had an authentic energy, and you feel that when you enter.
Our picture windows were incorporated in the design because we're nestled on a corner and the more you can view the neighborhood, the better. We wanted to highlight looking out to a residential space, not to a bustling street. You have these windows that fold open that allow customers to have an inside-outside experience - when you sit here, you’re experiencing outside.
Decór...When we began renovating our space we paced it. We didn’t come out of the gate with all the layers and details intact...we’ve designed our place over time. It takes time to get to know your space. You don’t want everything all at once, it takes time for it to evolve and grow naturally.
The floor was originally a grey concrete. During renovation we wanted to update the floors but we were on a tight budget. We came up with the idea to stain the floor after consulting with a friend. We reviewed a multitude of colors, and ultimately decided to go with blue because it's the element of the ocean and it's our connection to our home country, Jamaica.
The ceilings were once white but we darkened them to give the illusion of a higher ceiling. The dark ceilings worked out well with the natural light to create a comfy feel.
The bar was comprised of repurposed wood, hooks, and doorknobs acquired from a brownstone just down the block. We use the doorknobs as coat hangers.
Our menu is a fusion/mash up! of small plates and specials centralized around our upbringing - with a little bit of everything from Jamaican, American, and English cultures. We incorporate this in our signature dishes...
Chicken & Waffles
Ackee & Saltfish
Fish & Chips
Curry Shrimp, Coconut Rice & Plantains
Juliet: I studied at the National Gourmet Institute and I'm the head chef, but I partner with my chef, Clement Gogoa from, Cote D'Ivoire, Africa. He is great. He has delicious sauces and he’s one of the reasons why people keep coming back, because the food is so good. The reason that everyone likes working here is because there’s room to do what you need to do within the confines of the menu. For instance, we have a different menus, we have a night menu and a weekend menu but we also have “Specials” and my chef can make the specials.
The story behind the business is Family
This is very much a family business. Our father makes the sorrel every week and he makes the ginger beer, which we recently added to the menu. We pay him. He’s serious about his ingredients!
Our mother comes in and washes all of the chef coats every week and tidies up. She also curates some of the various pieces throughout the space. There are little accent things like the jug to serve the milk in or the beautiful plates and mugs. Those are things that she gets upstate at antique shops. Mismatch pieces from everywhere add to the authentic feel.
All of these little accents bring it all together. It’s not overdone and that’s our favorite thing, that we’re not following a formula.
We get such a diverse crowd. Tourists, kids, couples on dates, old Harlem comes in and new Harlem. Everyone has something positive to say. People who have been in the neighborhood for a while want to come check us out.
We really like when people find us by accident or by word of mouth, it's the original way. We don’t do major advertising. We’re not a big space so we can’t accommodate large crowds of 100+ people. It’s a nice, intimate energy.
We have lots of people working here during the week/daytime. However, Monday - Friday after 5pm (just for dinner) and all day/night on the weekends, there is a policy of "No Wifi, No Screens, Connect with Each Other." We’re not Starbucks. That is not the vibe we want. We want people to come in and socialize. Be present in your moment!
More about The Edge...
What are you most passionate about?
Juliet: Quiet time! Running The Edge is like having another family. It's very intimate with so many different personalities. I'm always trying to find a peaceful moment. I'm raising my 16 year old son, Zuhri, and we don’t really have weekends.
The reason why brunch at The Edge is so successful is because we’re here, we need to steer the ship. People really like to see the faces of the place. They feel good about being able to talk to you. And that’s the really nice part of opening The Edge in Harlem. We’ve received a lot of love and support from our community and outside. It always nice to get that from people. You’re putting yourself out there when you run a business in the hospitality industry. You’re always up for criticism. You’re on the chopping block all of the time. So it’s good to have the positive reinforcement from folks, that this wasn’t a waste of time.
Justine: I love my flower installations throughout the space and the live music. I'm the curator of all the music at The Edge. I really enjoy the interaction with people. I am more so the front of the house, while Juliet's focus is more back of the house.
- Start delivery service within a small radius of the restaurant.
- Create more of a bar scene by adding more signature cocktails to our current list
- Continue to grow our live music night on Wednesdays. We've been doing it for over a year and it's already become popular.
One word to describe The Edge...