Brighton Beach in southern Brooklyn is a Russian and Central Asian enclave bordering Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island. Originally mostly farmland, Brighton Beach quickly developed into a popular resort spot with hotels, a casino, a race track, and other amenities. The area became a haven for many Jewish immigrants around the 1920s, and many Holocaust survivors and Soviet immigrants arrived in the following decades. Today, the neighborhood is referred to as “Little Odessa,” although there are plenty of Georgian, Uzbek, Uyghur, and Turkish spots by the beach and boardwalk. Here are the top 10 secrets of Brighton Beach!
1. There’s a supermarket in an old theater
Today, NetCost Market, a Russian grocery store, operates in the space of the old Millennium Theatre, built in 1934. The 1,400-person capacity theater started out as a movie house and began featuring live performances in 1996. The theater put on performances by touring Russian pop acts, as well as Russian theater and comedy troupes. In the theater’s later years, basically every performance was in Russian and catered to the local crowd, although there were posters up of Ray Charles and Gloria Gaynor.
The Millennium closed in 2014, and in its place was the slightly smaller Master Theater, which had a short run but closed in 2019. In its place is now NetCost, one of the most popular supermarkets in the area with a few locations across Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The entrance to the supermarket still features a ticket booth and velvet ropes, although the interior is quite modern with a hot food bar.