Alumnae Juliet and Justine Masters Keep the Doors Open at The Edge Harlem

 

Faced with the unprecedented challenges of this year, sisters and St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s alumnae Juliet and Justine Masters have persevered and kept the doors open at their beloved restaurant, The Edge Harlem. The sisters’ restaurant has been a neighborhood favorite since its opening back in 2014. The menu pays homage to their childhood spent enjoying Sunday dinners prepared by their British and Jamaican grandmothers. 

Working as a family has allowed for implicit trust, and the business is truly a perfect fusion of both sisters’ talents. Juliet ‘92 is a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute and has over 15 years of experience in the culinary arts, including creating her own catering company. Justine ‘93, whose background is in real estate, fashion, and music, curates the ambience and the décor, while also managing the world music sound. 

Going into business for themselves was a risk, of course. “It takes a great deal of courage and stamina to start and grow a business, but it is also extremely rewarding if you see what you’ve ‘planted’ grow and live long,” the sisters reflect. 

As ever-evolving restrictions are levied at the city’s restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, Justine and Juliet have had to tap into this courage and stamina. Faced now with the logistics of creating winterized outdoor dining and the possibility of an end to indoor dining, Juliet and Justine have remained grateful to the support of their staff and the community. 

If you’ve never been to The Edge, you’re missing out. While there is no way you can go wrong, some highlights of the menu include the Coconut Fish & Chips (Juliet’s favorite) and the Spicy Seafood Pasta (Justine’s go-to). 

Read our full interview below.

During this incredibly difficult time for restaurants, how have you adapted and stayed afloat? What have the last eight months been like at The Edge Harlem?

We have kept our doors open every day since the pandemic was declared in March. When indoor dining was not permitted, we pivoted and began offering delivery and takeout. The last eight months have been extraordinarily challenging times with the constantly changing rules, regulations, and many adjustments we have had to make to our business model in order to stay open. We are truly grateful for the tremendous support from our community and staff.

What do you think the restaurant industry needs from city/state leadership right now, and how can the average New Yorker best support their local restaurants?

The hospitality industry (mainly small businesses) need another round of PPP funding. A majority of us are having to figure out how to bankroll winterizing our outdoor dining. It doesn’t feel like the city is going to increase the indoor capacity anytime soon, so we need help from our government. New Yorkers need to keep ordering food or gift cards from their local restaurants so that we are still here to serve you when things one day return to normal. 

It’s so nice that The Edge is a family effort, including your parents as well. What do you enjoy about working with family?

We enjoy the feeling of security and implicit trust. We have a shared vision so we always know we are on the same page and have each other’s back. 

What’s your favorite item on the menu?
Juliet: Coconut Fish & Chips
Justine: Spicy Seafood Pasta 

You both have led very impressive and interesting careers. Juliet, where did your passion for cooking come from, and after attending the Natural Gourmet Institute, what inspired you to start your own catering company? What role does health and wellness play in your cooking?

My love for food and hospitality goes back to my childhood. I loved making up menus and learning to cook. Growing up I was exposed to both my Jamaican and British grandmothers’ Sunday dinners. My exposure to these two cultures helped to shape my passion for food and hospitality. My career path to this place of restaurant ownership has been filled with many types of experiences, from cater waiter, to kitchen helper, to chef training at the Natural Gourmet, to private cooking for clients, to opening and operating a successful restaurant for the last six years! 

Justine, your career sounds amazing from fashion to music management to real estate. Could you talk about what led you to your career in real estate and what excites you most about that industry?

I am a native New Yorker and have great appreciation for architecture and design. I began as an office manager at a real estate firm and then got my license. Being an agent affords me many great adventures! The art of the deal is thrilling to me, and I enjoy helping people achieve the dream of buying or selling a home.   

How did St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s influence you? Were there any teachers or classes in particular that shaped you? Do you have any favorite memories from your time there?

St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s had 50 students total in the high school when we were there. It was an intimate familial experience. We were greatly influenced by Dr. La Farge, Mr. Schwartz, and Miss Hughes, our basketball and volleyball coach. We were undefeated GISAL volleyball champions!


Taking the leap to open one’s own business can be very daunting. Do you have advice for St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s students and alumni who are considering starting their own business?  

We don’t always recognize that every experience is a learning opportunity and that you never know what can grow from it.  Being an entrepreneur is a huge task and not for the weak at heart. It takes a great deal of courage and stamina to start and grow a business, but it is also extremely rewarding if you see what you’ve “planted” grow and live long.