Every Saturday, the sidewalk outside 393 Lewis Avenue swells with New Yorkers eager to feast on jumbo po’ boys and buttery shrimp and grits. Peaches has been known across the city as a destination for Southern comfort food since their heavy wood doors opened over 10 years ago. It’s the crown jewel of Ben Grossman and Craig Samuel’s B&C Restaurant Group, a mini Brooklyn empire built on fiery fried chicken and buttery biscuits.
The co-owners met working in the kitchen at City Hall Restaurant, a clubby downtown destination known for serving classic American fare to the government officials who worked at the real City Hall. They connected over a shared desire to serve comfort food in Brooklyn, the borough where they both were raised.
Over 16 years later, the pair owns three restaurants across Brooklyn — Peaches Kitchen & Bar, Peaches HotHouse in Bed Stuy, Peaches Shrimp & Crab in Clinton Hill — plus upstate barbecue mecca The Smoke Joint. A modern steakhouse, Peaches Prime, is slated to open across from BAM Harvey in Fort Greene later this year.
Each location is unified by a mission to be an extended living room for the neighborhood. “A lot of restaurants in Manhattan especially try to become a destination, but they don't have the community support. If people go out of town or it snows, boom, they have no business,” says Samuel, who grew up in Flatbush. “For us, it’s been about becoming our neighborhood's living room and building from there.”
Samuel and Grossman began their restaurant group with The Smoke Joint, then in Fort Greene, but say they first truly understood their ethos when Peaches Kitchen and Bar opened in a highly residential neighborhood lined with historic brownstones. “It was the type of place where someone would be walking down the street, see a friend in the window, and walk right by the host to pull up a seat and talk,” says Grossman, laughing.
The mission of feeding their communities took on a new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic, when B&C Restaurant group partnered with World Central Kitchen to provide food to New Yorkers in need. From March through October in 2020, they provided over 30,000 meals to people living in New York City Housing Authority, first responders, and churches acting as food pantries for the community.
Now, they’ve pivoted to providing lunch five days a week for volunteers at vaccination sites throughout the city. As we spoke on the phone in mid February, Grossman and Samuel were negotiating Brooklyn traffic to personally drop off barbecue chicken with collard greens and baked beans, plus baked grits with roasted mushrooms and squash for the vegetarians. It’s comfort food in the truest sense.
“Working with World Central Kitchen gave us a new way to act on the ethos of the company, which is geared toward hospitality,” says Samuel. “We have great locations, food, atmosphere but our mission is to become strong stewards of our community and be really intertwined with our guests.”