The chef and restaurateur hopes to open a vast food hall, Alkebulan, in central Harlem, following its debut at Expo 2020 Dubai.
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In October, an African food hall, Alkebulan, opened as part of Expo 2020 Dubai. It was created by Alexander Smalls, the Harlem chef, restaurateur and performer, with TGP International, a hospitality management company based in London. Originally the plan was to open Alkebulan first in Harlem but the pandemic interfered and then, as Mr. Smalls put it, “Dubai came calling.” With a name that was once that of the African continent and is said to mean “mother of mankind,” the hall has 11 stands created by Mr. Smalls and run by African chefs and restaurateurs, with West African street food, barbecue, dishes inspired by Zanzibar and East African seafood. The lineup includes Mr. Smalls’s own Shoebox Bakery, Chicken Coop and Sweet Ophelia’s, an Afro-Asian wok bar. The Harlem version is back on track to open next year, and then another Alkebulan is set for London. The partners are looking for a two-story location in Central Harlem with more than 20,000 square feet of space.
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