Neighborhoods get culinary flair thanks to immigrants

In the Brooklyn neighborhood known as Bath Beach, there is a strong and thriving Guatemalan community. Over the course of the last 10 years, the number of immigrants from Guatemala in the neighborhood has dramatically risen by as much as almost 1176 percent, a city planning development analysis from the US Census Bureau has revealed. The news is being reported by the New York Times as the most dramatic increase of one particular immigrant group in the neighborhood.

One such Guatemalan immigrant is Rafael Garcia, who moved to the United States when he was just 14 years old and chose to go to Bath Beach due to the fact that he already knew some of the people who lived there. Once he started a happy career in construction and began sending photographs back home to his seven brothers and sisters, the rest of the siblings all decided to come over and join him.

Garcia is now 37 years old and owns a bakery, La Bendicion, along with his wife. The eatery serves traditional Guatemalan pastries such as breads filled with custard. The bakery is just one of a number of different businesses which are owned by immigrants that have opened on Bath Avenue, with another being deli Tienda Guatemalteca.

“Bensonhurst and that whole part of South Brooklyn has become much more diverse, because the older, white, mostly Italian population has been in decline for some time,” says sociology professor Philip Kasinitz. “This has left inexpensive housing available for many new Latino immigrants.”