Evening Edition

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Stylish folks in Queens – Woodside and Forest Hills

We loved this TONY article, Most stylish New Yorkers 2013, which features two people from Queens – Marc Williamson, 42, Woodside; co-owner of JJ Hat Center and Pork Pie Hatters (a partnership with JJ Hat Center); and Julius Debruhl Lewis, “107”, Forest Hills; owner of Julius Debruhl Lewis Design Studio Inc.. Hats seem to be a constant here, with both wearing dapper head chapeaus. Congrats, fellas!

The Shady Lady in Astoria – what?

We Heart Astoria posted this photo of The Shady Lady, which is going into a long time papered up bar at the corner of 30th Ave and 36th Street in Astoria. Hmm… we think it will be a bar or an “eating and drinking establishment” since there have been no jobs to change anything filed for this address in the Department of Buildings.

Image source: We Heart Astoria

New momo cart in Jackson Heights – A&G Himalayan Fresh Food

Joe DiStefano scopes out a new momo cart in Jackson Heights – A&G Himalayan Fresh Food, which is located in close proximity to Potola Fresh Food, the area’s first momo cart. A&G, along with the momos, also sells a traditional flat bread called baklep. The momos also come with a free bowl of beef broth (here’s hoping it’s nourishing and made from actual bones). The conclusion is that they are both good but Potola’s are a bit juicier. Both sell 8 beef momos for $5. Soulds like it’s time for a field trip out to JH.

Did you know? Flushing had a flasher

Good news is that he’s been caught, so reports the NY Daily News. His name is Dagoberto Amaya, he’s 32 years old, and the cops caught him Wednesday night; that morning he had done something distasteful. We’re glad he got caught – he’s been charged with endangering the welfare of a child and public lewdness. What a jerk. Let’s hear it for New York’s Finest.

P.S.1 is bursting at the seams with art

Anne Shisler-Hughes shows us what’s up at P.S.1 right now, and the art sounds amazing. There’s sculpture, multi-media works, art from found-objects, some audio, paintings, and more. It’s a very exciting time right now at the museum. Plus you can have a meal at the M. Wells Dinette inside P.S.1.

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New Yorkers like to complain about litter, graffiti, and noise

We love maps here at QNYC and were pretty enthused about checking out this one via io9 called “What do New Yorkers complain about?” You can see block by block what was reported on the issues of litter, graffiti, and noise throughout the city. We noticed a few things: there’s a big pink section in Queens just west of Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the Corona neighborhood that is red (graffiti). Also, the southeastern part of Queens is pretty blue; Forest Hill and Rego Park seem to be more concerned about noise, too. The data for this map was culled from 311 calls from 2010-2012.

CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism weights in on the potential QueensWay

The subject of the abandoned rail line that could be the QueensWay (Queens’s own high line?) or turned back into a working rail line (Rockaway Beach Branch), has manifested itself into another website, The Line. From the About page:

The Line is a reporting project by Craft I students at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. We hope to show all sides of the debate, explore what’s at stake and present the key players who want to create the next stop for the Rockaway Beach Branch rail line in Queens.

This is a site worth keeping an eye on, especially if you are interested in hearing both sides of the argument.

Queens has great street art in LIC, Astoria, and Ridgewood’s neighbor Bushwick

Street art charms us, was must admit. Random, pointless, scribble scrabble graffiti doesn’t, but the street art in this article is not about that. But anyway, ArtInfo has put together a list and accompanying slideshow on where to see great street art in NYC. We were happy to see that 5 Pointz in LIC (GMAP), Welling Court in Astoria (GMAP), and almost-in-Ridgewood but Bushwick 5 Points (GMAP) were all included. Not far from the Ridgewood border – again, in Bushwick – is the art on Vandervoort Place between Flushing Avenue and Thames Street (GMAP) and Gardner Avenue between Flushing and Johnson Avenues (GMAP).

We’ve visited Welling Court (and nearby streets), and the art there is really fantastic. And anyone taking the 7 train through LIC sees the amazing aerosol art at 5 Pointz. Walking from the Jefferson L stop toward 17-17 Troutman in Ridgewood – home to many artists of all kinds – you’ll also see some pretty incredible art. Definitely take some time to check it out.

The origins of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center

Watch and listen to former Borough President Claire Shulman talk about how she got the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Aquatic Center to happen – “she used $8 million from the United States Tennis Association and a “birthday present” from Mayor Giuliani to build a state of the art and incredibly popular swimming pool and ice skating rink in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/43901820]

Rockaway Rises – a different side to the Rockaways

We love this new site, Rockaway Rises, which is “a community for sharing and enjoying the positive aspects of life on our fair peninsula.” Visions of the destruction are not to be submitted here, just shots and artwork of the beauty of the peninsula. A beautiful change of pace.

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The Astoria Park Pool diving pool info meeting is happening soon

Curious about what’s up with the plan to make the currently defunct Astoria Park Pool diving pool into an outdoor amphitheater? Attend the informational meeting on Wednesday, February 20 from 6:30-8:30pm at the Astoria World Manor, 25-22 Astoria Blvd (GMAP). Folks from the Parks Dept will be there to share the schematic design for the proposed performance space. It’s a pretty exciting prospect, to have the diving pool spot serve as something that could benefit the entire community; right now it just sits there, attracting leaves, bugs, and feral cats.

You can gamble in NY State at age 18… but perhaps not for long

NY1 reports that Assemblyman Philip Goldfeder and Senator Joseph Addabbo have proposed in a bill that the minimum gambling age be raised from 18 to 21. Both of these lawmakers oversee districts that include the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack. Goldfeder says he is, “concerned after spotting gamblers under 21 at Resorts World, which is near several schools.”

Old Prague in Astoria, Queens

Old Prague has arrived… in the form of a bar by the same name. Thanks to consummate beer lover tastoriaqueens for the info and rundown. This location on 31st Street, the old Zlata Praha restaurant that was closed for like forever (GMAP), has been transformed into a cozy, homey Czech bar with lots of dark wood, delicious Czech beer on tap, plenty of TVs, and future offerings in the plans of homestyle Czech food and espresso. We look forward to drinking (and later, eating) there very soon.

Will big box stores find their way to Dutch Kills

Dutch Kills is known as a bit of a sleepy part of LIC, and home to many hotels, but in the near future big box retailers might also be finding their way there, too. Right now, this sort of retail is mainly found along Northern Blvd in LIC (think Home Depot, Michaels, etc), but there is a huge property on 21st Street near 39th Ave – 100,000 square feet’s worth – that could be come home to a variety of chain retailers. This is according to Benjamin Fox, executive vice president of retail leasing with Massey Knakal (who is exclusively marketing the property). MK would love to secure a long-term net lease of $1.5 million. There is a warehouse building on the property – which housed a Staples some time ago – but that is only 16,000 square feet, so there’s lots of extra space to work with (some smaller buildings would likely be razed). The developers are considering businesses like supermarkets, fashion retailers, automobile dealerships, and storage companies, among others, and they are open to splitting up the lot for the right mix of businesses; zoning rules are on their side for this. We’ll keep an eye on it.

Art & Solitude in LIC

This is a thoughtful video of artist Angélique Chandy, who makes art in LIC. We love the sights of the neighborhood that she incorporates into the video, some magnificent and some quite ordinary. About the art featured in the video:

This video is dedicated to people with albinism experiencing separateness and social isolation. It was inspired by the process of painting my colleague Diandra Forrest, an African American with albinism.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/57386833]

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Lunar New Year in 5 cultures

Joanna Eng tells us about Lunar New Year in five cultures – Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, and Mongolian. And while Lunar New Year is February 10 this year, the big celebration here will be in Flushing on Saturday, February 16. You’ll get the chance to experience the Chinese and Korean takes in particular on this important holiday. Ways to celebrate are watching the parade, “wander from bakery to store to restaurant in Flushing, and order whatever they suggest for the holiday,” or head to Jackson Heights and enjoy some momos (one of the special foods for Losar, Tibetan New Year) in the neighborhood, which is increasingly moving from Little India to Himalaya Heights.

TONY discovers LIC, yet again

Time Out New York continues to have a crush on LIC, and posted a short bit on LIC cultural institutions, such as Gantry Plaza State ParkMoMA PS1, Chocolate Factory, and Oracle Club. Also, “Inevitably, however, regeneration brings the risk that some of the iconoclastic fringe element will be quashed—5Pointz Aerosol Art Center.” This institution is going bye-bye and new condos will be going up in its place.

The case of suspended weekend 7 train service – what exactly is the MTA doing?!?

Curious about what the MTA is doing while the 7 train languishes in LIC on weekends this winter? Well, one of the things they are doing is replacing old track with new track – the scene is pretty amazing, with these heavy, heavy section of tracks raised and lowered, and some parts of the track needing to be cut to accommodate the track swap. The MTA has posted photos of the process to their Flickr account and it’s pretty interesting. Definitely check it out to satisfy your curiosity.

Agenda for the next CB13 meeting is here – heads-up, Rockaways

The folks at Rockaway Emergency Plan posted the agenda on Facebook for the next Community Board 13 meeting on Feb 12. “Beach replenishment and stabilization” is on the schedule, which we expect will be of great interest to the surrounding community. About the meeting, REP says:

It’s been moved to a larger location, the auditorium inside Scholars’ Academy on Beach Channel Drive and Beach 104. We’ve reached out to the Army Corps with some of your questions posted here last month and we’ll publish a primer with hopefully some answers at the end of this week.

Yet your neon on, man

The guys who run Krypton Neon in LIC are holding some workshops where you, too, can learn how to bend glass tubes and create some neon art. These workshops are rare – maybe once a year – so if you’re curious, head on over and take a look-see on their site for class descriptions, timing, cost, etc. This could be exactly what you’re looking for.

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First, it’s February!

Well, we are one month into 2013, if you can believe it. This month we have Groundhog Day (tomorrow), Lunar New Year (Feb 10), Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent (Feb 13), Valentine’s Day (Feb 14), Presidents Day (Feb 18). Makes the month seem crowded already.

And it’s First Friday at the Noguchi Museum today

Our friends at TF Cornerstone wrote a nice piece about how today is First Friday at the Noguchi Museum. This means pay-as-you-wish admission, extended hours (5-8pm) with special programming, and a cash bar with wine and beer. The programming tonight includes “Center of Attention,” an extended conversation around a single work of art at 6pm, and Art21 episodes featuring contemporary artists at 7pm. And if you live in East Coast, TF Cornerstone is sponsoring free shuttle transportation to this months’ event. A winning combination!

Goodbye, Ed Koch

We learned this morning that Ed Koch has passed and is moving on to his next adventure. He leaves quite a legacy – including his name on a bridge, the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. And on that topic, here’s a hilarious video featuring Ed Koch being a most excellent version of Ed Koch.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Xkw-Cgdb6k]

We also want to share Astoria Haiku’s tribute to Ed Koch as well.

#RIP Ed Koch/
Mayor from my childhood/
Gritty New Yorker

Queens has the goods… the baked goods, that is

Anne Shisler-Hughes has written a wonderful piece on two excellent bakeries in Queens – Cannelle Patisserie in Jackson Heights and La Boulangerie in Forest Hills. Both bakeries are run by people from Brittany, a region of France in the northwest corner. At Cannelle and La Boulangerie you’ll find the celebrated Gâteau Breton – a delicious buttery almond cake – as well as croissants, baguettes, and other wonderful things. The local message boards are dotted with folks raving about both places. Definitely worth checking out.

A hidden Victorian house in Astoria

We absolutely love the story of this “hidden house” in Astoria. You can’t see it from the street, really (we know, because we’ve tried – twice in the last day or so), but you can see it on an aerial map and apparently from the platform of the Ditmars elevated subway stop. It’s essentially situated behind Teddy’s Florist – there’s a door on the left by the storefront that we expect leads you to the house. It’s a Victorian home and has a lot of period charm. George Halvatzis, of Halvatzis Realty, sometimes shows the property to potential buyers and says, ”In my 32 years as a real estate agent in Astoria, I’ve never encountered such a unique property.” So yes, it’s for sale, in case you’re wondering.

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Operation Photo Rescue for damaged photos from Hurricane Sandy

We love this project from the SVA (School of Visual Arts) in Manhattan – Operation Photo Rescue. It’s going on this weekend. More info:

If you had photos that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, all is not lost. On February 2-3, SVA’s MPS Digital Photography Department is hosting Operation Photo Rescue (OPR), which brings together a worldwide network of volunteers to digitally copy photos for anyone whose pictures were damaged by the storm. The OPR team will be onsite at 133 West 21st Street, Room 101c on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm. Walk-ins are welcome and appointments can be scheduled here.

You can bring up to 20 photos, and if they are deemed repairable, they team will digitally capture and later restore, print and mail them to the owner at no cost. Awesome!

Did you know? No newsstands for you in Astoria.

We caught this little news tidbit in the Queens Chronicle from a couple of weeks ago – recently someone had applied to open a newsstand on the northeast corner of 31st Street and Ditmars Blvd in Astoria, but Community Board 1 smacked it down. CB1 member Jose Batista said, “We never approve them. It’s the third or fourth one in the last two years.” It would have been set up in front of the 24 hour CVS (which is kitty corner from another CVS). When the applicant, noted as “MD” (who apparently also works at superstar restaurant Nobu in Manhattan), was asked “What will you offer that you can’t get at CVS?” the response was “Convenience.” The article goes on to say that a local business person is outraged at the low taxes the newsstand would pay ($1,000 to a restaurant’s $5,000 – but let’s face it, a newsstand takes up way less space than a restaurant) and that they sell porn. In any case, the newsstand won’t be established any time soon.

Our readers weigh in on where to get great bread

This morning we asked, “where do you like to buy bread?” and we got some great suggestions. First, two for La Boulangerie in Forest Hills:

heartOFqueens: “la boulangerie in #ForestHills!”

theglobalgrocer: “Mais bien sur La Boulangerie”

Parisi in Astoria got some love:

tastoriaqueens: “@QueensNYCity I get my daily bread @ Parisi Bakery on my corner in #Astoria. They stock Parisi bread @SorrisoAstoria1 too. Love both places.”

As did Gian Piero

Fooditka: “Gian Pieros rulez”

And another vote for Astoria – Gulluoglu, a Turkish business that makes well-regarded baklava

CitySpoonful: “Gulluoglu occasionally has beautiful bread!”

Art, events, and coffee at Odradeks in Kew Gardens

DNAinfo wrote about Odradeks, an indie coffee shop on Kew Gardens (GMAP), that may become a meeting spot for those interested in the arts. They’ve been open about a year and have held a handful of events, but would like to do more, perhaps even once a week. So far they’ve hung art by local artists, and had some literary events, like readings. There really isn’t anything else like this spot in the area, so the owner, Jacob Ganz, would like to capitalize on that, as there has been a growing desire for artistically-oriented events and activities. In short, the owner says, “There are a surprising amount of people in the neighborhood who write and read. And we want to do more things here.”

Book on Forest Hills available soon

This week we were contacted by Nick Hirshorn, who is the author of the upcoming book Forest Hills, a volume that is part of Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series. We think it’s going to be a very interesting read – here are some of the highlights:

  • Drawing upon original research, the book includes the most thorough narrative yet of Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech at the Long Island Rail Road station in Forest Hills on July 4, 1917
  • Each chapter opens with a defining moment in Forest Hills history: the West Side Tennis Club’s decision to move to Forest Hills in 1914; the debut of the Forest Hills Theatre in 1922; the opening of the subway station at Continental Avenue in 1936 and the public housing controversy that erupted in 1966
  • Showcases notable residents such as Geraldine Ferraro and The Ramones
  • A rare photograph shows the Forest Hills home were Helen Keller lived from 1917 to 1938

The book has a forward by Ray Romano, who grew up in Forest Hills himself.

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Chipotle Forest Hills grand opening today

Well, today the Forest Hills Chipotle opened – a happy customer reported on the ChipoFoHi (yes, we just made up that abbreviation) Facebook page, “Just had the chicken burrito!” It’s all very exciting. And now we learn through CBS that out in SF the Chipotles are trying out a tofu filling. It’s called “sofritas” and is “shredded tofu braised with chipotle and roasted poblano chiles.” If it’s successful, we bet we’ll see it here on the east coast.

And then there are a bunch of other things opening in Forest Hills – Edge of the City has the skinny

We’ve been enjoying reading up on the new things opening all over Forest Hills. It’s like the place has exploded with biz growth. Of course, there’s the aforementioned Chipotle, but also a Kung Fu Tea (we love the taro bubble tea), a Red Mango, and apparently a new indie coffee house, though some locals think the location in Station Square – ironically next to the Christian Science Reading Room (Christian Scientists refrain from ingesting caffeine) – is too dark and gloomy. But still, sounds like a lot of people would love a place like this. We’ll keep an eye on it, and we thank Edge of the City for all the great info!

During the Great Backyard Bird Count, the Queens Botanical Garden is the place to be

On Saturday, February 16 at 10:30am, head to the Queens Botanical Garden (GMAP) to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a world-wide effort to take a census of birds – this census will help scientists track migrations and populations, which can lead to more informed conservation decisions. Lots and lots of birds make their way through Queens – the QBG folks say that they’ve seen over 50 species of birds on the property, including Red-tailed Hawks, American Robins, and Ring-necked Pheasants. You can track birds for as little as 15 minutes, all while enjoying the Queens Botanical Garden – which, by the way, is free to enter right now.

Farewell, Dylan Smith

This moving video is really something, and it got us all misty (seriously, there was no dust in our eyes).

“Less than ]three] months ago, Dylan Smith used his surfboard to save more than a half dozen lives during Hurricane Sandy but a few weeks later Dylan died surfing in Puerto Rico. He was 23. Here a few GoPro clips from his memorial paddle out in Rockaway.”

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/56697261]

Good news for preservationists – the Far Rockaway Beach Bungalow Historic District is now a state historic landmark

Well, it happened, and a lot of folks are pretty psyched about it – the Wall Street Journal reports that the Far Rockaway Beach Bungalow Historic District “has been given the official nod as a state historic landmark and likely will get a national designation in a few weeks.” This means that homeowners can qualify for preservation programs and services, and tax credits from both the State and the Feds. What this doesn’t mean is that the structures are safe from being torn down – they’d need special designation by NYC’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to keep that from happening. But still, this is a big step for the historic district – we look forward to seeing how things go on the national level.

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Favorite bridges, from our readers

This morning we asked, “what is your favorite bridge in NYC?” and got some answers! A couple people really like the Queensboro Bridge:

@QueensNYCity Queensborough Bridge because it’s free.” – Rene2D2‏@I_Am_The_Wall

“The 59th Street/Queensborough/Koch Bridge is my favorite! It was visible from our apartment in LIC and always thought it was more distinctive than the others. Walked across it once. It has a majestic feeling to it. Miss seeing it (now I live in Florida).” – Linda Hervas (in our comments)

We also heard from Mike Anz @mikeanzz about the Hell Gate Bridge: “@QueensNYCity I’m in love with the damn bridge. Might just paint it myself one weekend.”

Beach 91st in the Rockaways before and after

Even after all these weeks and months, we are still shocked by the before and after scenes in parts of the Rockaways. You’d think we’d be used to it but we’re just not. We caught this before and after shot posted by the folks at the Rockaway 100th Precinct Community Affairs Facebook page. It’s just… wow.

Image source: Rockaway 100th Precinct Community Affairs Facebook page

Where will you watch the Super Bowl this Sunday? We’ve got some suggestions as to where to do that.

Our own Danielle McClure put together a short list of some great Super Bowl XLVII spots for Sunday, all right here in Queens – Astoria, Jackson Heights, Bayside, and Elmhurst. There’s plenty of drink, barbecue in some cases, and prix fixes as well. In particular, we love how poetic time at Bourbon Street could be, since the Super Bowl is down in NOLA this year. But Bud’s Ale House, Legend’s, and Play Lounge are also great choices. We hope you have a excellent time, wherever you decide to hang!

Stop Alternate Side Parking Now!

The folks in Hunters Point really don’t want to see alternate side parking (ASP) in their neighborhood. So some residents have put up this page, Stop Alternate Side Parking Now! There sure are some strong opinions – they feel that ASP would be stressful, add extra pollution, and they voice a suspicion many folks in Queens have said casually – that street cleaning as performed as it is does not actually clean the streets (do you agree?). They also give some advice that can be applied to many, many situations like this, “To have even greater impact than just a petition write your personal reasons, hardships, and suggestions for better solutions to our representatives.” Here’s to citizen action.

Jamaica Bay is full of life despite Sandy crashing it

We were pleased to read about all the wildlife in Jamaica Bay these days. The bay was severely damaged after Hurricane Sandy, but nature has a way of repairing itself and moving on. And so it is in process of doing that, and the birds have found their way there. Since it was so cold last week, the snowy owl and snow geese, among other wintering birds, felt right at home. We wonder how they will handle tomorrow’s warm weather, though. We are very fortunate to have such an incredible natural lagoon in our fair borough. If you have some time, it’s well worth a visit, too.

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Amazing, amazing photos of old movie palace turned church, and beautifully preserved

Today we were turned on to a series of photos by Scouting NY of the Tabernacle of Prayer church in Jamaica. Sure, it is a church now but it was originally a movie palace, the Loew’s Valencia movie palace, “one of five flagship Wonder Theaters opened by the Loew’s chain in and around New York in the late 1920′s.” The exterior is pretty cool looking but it’s the interior that is the most staggeringly beautiful. Definitely worth a look.

Noodles are a 2013 restaurant trend – hello Hinomaru Ramen

In a slideshow of Food & Wine’s Restaurant Trends 2013, Astoria’s own Hinomaru Ramen was featured! Here’s a bowl of their delicious noodles:

Image source: Food & Wine via Keeping It Real Food

Chefs are messing around with the traditional noodle soup. “There’s no one right way,” says Tatsu Aikawa of Austin’s Tatsu-Ya, which offers Mexican flavor “bombs” with chile and lime powders. Hinomaru in Queens, NY, serves ramen with uni and Parmesan cream; and in Manhattan, Ivan Orkin, who has worked in Tokyo, is opening a spot featuring brothless ramen with pickled, raw and roasted garlic.

MTA’s FASTRACK arrives this week, see how it affects you

The MTA’s construction program FASTRACK is coming to the N/Q/R lines this week. Here’s what happens during FASTRACK:

During a FASTRACK shutdown, our employees inspect hundreds of signals and switches, repair and replace track rails and cross ties, clean track floors, perform elevator and escalator repair work, repair water damage, clear drains, and clean stations. We also clear the track-bed of a significant amount of debris. We repaint areas untouched in years, because they are not reachable during normal train operation. We clean lighting fixtures, change bulbs, and repair platform edges. We also perform high-intensity station cleaning providing a visible improvement to the station environment and your commute.

Here’s what’s affected between the hours of 10pm and 5am:

  • N trains run in Queens and Brooklyn only (so, in Queens, the N will operate like a shuttle between Ditmars Blvd and Queensboro Plaza – catch the 7 there to get into the city)
  • Q trains are rerouted via the D (6th Ave) in Manhattan to/from the 57 St F station
  • R service ends early in Manhattan and Queens (so as to accommodate construction in the city)

No Longer Empty’s transformation of the Manhattan Bank building

We love this time-lapse video of the transformation of the Manhattan Bank building for No Longer Empty’s How Much Do I Owe You? exhibit. Have you seen the show yet? It is very cool! Definitely worth checking out.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/58365355]

New American restaurant from the Butcher Bar people is coming to 30th Avenue

We were happy to learn more about what is coming into the space on 30th Ave and 38th Street – another restaurant from the Butcher Bar folks! More info:

The new restaurant will have a decidedly open-air-café feel, he says, but points out that it will be different from the bevy of frappe hang-outs that line 30th Avenue. The new restaurant “will celebrate Europe and bring people back to the original meaning of a café,” says Byrd.

Nice. Naturally, because of its connection to Butcher Bar, you’ll likely see meats from sustainably and humanely raised animals. They’re going to grow some of their own fresh herbs in the backyard. They’ll start with a dinner menu – with a full bar offering what we bet will be delicious cocktails. They they’ll put together lunch and brunch menus – this is a very common pace for Astoria restaurants as of late.

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More sidewalk cafes may come to LIC and Sunnyside

This week we learned that more sidewalk cafes may be coming to LIC and Sunnyside, since the Department of Planning is considering changing the zoning rules to allow them. Sure, there are some sidewalk cafes out there in these areas, but technically they are operating illegally, despite their possession of city permits. Neighboring Astoria has many, many sidewalk cafes, especially along 30th Avenue, and they seem wildly successful – it would be strange to imagine Astoria without them. Here’s hoping allowing sidewalk cafes in LIC and Sunnyside will help restaurants and cafes become more appealing, desirable, and help boost their bottom line.

Dave Cook visits Jamaica

We love this Flickr photoset by Dave Cook, aka Eating in Translation, of his recent time in Jamaica, Queens. For sure we will be trying the food at Maima’s, a Liberian restaurant, very soon. We can also confirm that the pupusas at Rincon Salvadoreña are pretty tasty.

An ice sculptor in LIC

Check out the story of  Shintaro Okamoto of Okamoto Studio, an LIC/Astoria-based ice sculpting business. He was recently profiled by “Astoria Characters” author Nancy Ruhling in the Huffington Post. He is from Japan originally, spent time in Alaska, and learned the art of ice sculpting while being a sushi chef. Now he is in LIC making beautiful art from ice, and has had his works shown throughout NYC. So interesting!

John Brown Smokehouse on CBS

Congrats to John Brown Smokehouse – again! They continue to get accolades and great press. They were on CBS (Channel 2) this morning, featuring their dish of chicken and cornbread waffles with pork belly pastrami hash, prepared by John Brown’s head pit master John Bowen (he’s also head banjo player). We love his pronunciation of greasy as “greazy,” too. Beware – you may start to drool involuntarily. Takeaway quote: “It’s like the food pyramid right in your mouth!”

It’s true – housing prices have risen in Astoria and LIC

The NYDN published an article recently about how housing prices have gone up in western Queens. From an anecdotal POV, it’s understandable, since people speak so highly of this part of NYC and the local message boards are filled with folks looking for an apartment, but the numbers show an increase, too:

Our friends at Modern Spaces say that during the last quarter of 2012, the average rent and sale price for a 1 bedroom apartment in Astoria was $1,600 and $387,786, respectively. In LIC, the average average rent and sale price for a 1 bedroom apartment was $2,400 and $501,732, respectively. Compared to 2011, in 2012 in LIC, rents went up about $50/month and price per square foot did too, by an increase of $32 ($700 to $732).

And in the words of of Arthur Rosenfield, president of the Long Island City/Astoria Chamber of Commerce, about Astoria and LIC,  ”The quality of life is just phenomenal.”