Southside Story: As Hipsterville Encroaches On Latino Williamsburg, A Struggle To Preserve A Culture

Whirlybird, a year-old coffee shop on South 2nd Street in Williamsburg, serves good espresso and organic, gluten-free breakfast tacos filled with scrambled eggs, Oaxaca cheese, jalapeños and homemade salsa. It’s a tiny place, with wooden stools and high tables, music playing from a vinyl record player, and vintage record sleeves hanging on the walls. The clientele is young and trendy, a contrast to the two elderly men who stood on the sidewalk one recent morning, chatting in Spanish. On a wall a few feet from the shop’s entrance, an artsy, bird-accented mural points passersby toward Whirlybird. But wedged in between the sign and the shop itself, there’s another mural: a Puerto Rican flag painted on the wall, partly faded, chipped off in places, and above it, the words: “Rest in Peace – In Memory of – Noel – Nelson – Raul – Melegan.”

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