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The Story behind Leon Ellis – Restauranteur

a man wearing a suit and tie

Mr. Leon Ellis is no stranger when it comes to food and hospitality in New York City. From an early age, he knew that he had a passion for food and all the intricacies that make food and flavors so interesting. This interest lead him to pursue his education in food science and nutrition from Tuskegee University in Alabama. Not long after graduating, Leon decided that he wanted to open up his very first restaurant which he named after his mother. Emily’s Restaurant and Bar hit the scene in 1992 in East Harlem on 111th street and Fifth Avenue. For year’s, Emily’s was viewed as a highly respected establishment and that validated Harlem as viable business location. Always wanting to continue working on his craft and keep striving for more, Leon decided to open up his second location, this time named after his father. Oscar’s Famous BBQ bought authentic Texas style BBQ right to the heart of Harlem. Family has always been very important to Leon and getting to name his first two establishments after the two people who’ve inspired him the most was quite an achievement. 

As an entrepreneur and proud to be a black business owner in New York, Leon has owned various businesses over the years. His impeccable work ethic and great relationships with the community has earned him a reputation as one of Harlem’s most upstanding business leaders. Some of his other ventures include MOCA Bar and Grill, a full service lounge which has become the destination of choice for people who want to entertain friends and business associates in a fun, trendy, and appealing environment. The lounge has an extensive specialty drink and appetizer menu. But Leon’s entrepreneurial spirit goes beyond just food and hospitality. Leon is also the owner of Harlem Underground. Harlem Underground markets the largest line of the Harlem USA merchandise in the country for over twenty two years. A major component of the operation is the custom embroidery division. The marketing of Leon’s original Harlem designs is done both in the store from their Flagship locations in Harlem and on online at

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