Sunnyside Post

Sunnyside NY news

40th Street food vendors get the boot


April 17, By Christian Murray

The food vendors at 40th Street have been removed.

Earlier this week, the police arrived and notified them that their time was up and that they needed to go elsewhere.

Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2, said the vendors were violating the law by operating out of that location. He said they were too close to the subway stairwells, putting riders at risk in case they needed to make an emergency exit from the subway platform.

This was the primary reason cited for removing the vendors at 46th Street at the end of last year.

Conley, who last month called for the vendors’ removal at 40th Street, appeared somewhat empathic about the vendors’ plight. “I realize it is about income and making money… but at the same time it has got out of hand and it is about the law,” Conley said.

He said that the 40th Street vendors were also operating where an art installation is located, a space which will be used as part of the plaza program.

Sheref Abdelshafy, who had operated his food cart under the 40th Street No. 7 train station for 10 years, was removed as well as the operator of the Halal cart.

When Abelshafy discovered that the community board wanted him gone last month, he said it was unfair.

“I’ve been here 10 years selling bagels and coffee and I have never had any problems with anyone,” he said at the time.

Sheref Abdelshafy's cart (File photo)

Sheref Abdelshafy’s cart (File photo)


Police search for man using fake ATM card

April 17, By Christian Murray

The police are searching for a man who has been using a cloned ATM card to withdraw cash.

The police said that the suspect used the card at the Rite Aid Pharmacy located at 60-26 Woodside Avenue on March 28 at about 2:45pm and withdrew $400. He then used the card at other nearby ATMs and took an additional $900.

The suspect is also wanted for using the card at a pizzeria in Brooklyn a day later. He withdrew $200 from an ATM at Pizzeria Deli, located at 887 Manhattan Ave., on March 29 around 3pm. He then withdrew about $1,400 from other ATMs nearby.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.

Caffe bene expected to open by end of month

41-10 Queens Blvd

41-31 Queens Blvd

April 16, By Christian Murray

Caffe bene, the multi-national coffee giant based out of South Korea, is expected to open its Sunnyside operation by the end of this month.

The café, which will be at located at 41-31 Queens Blvd, will be selling conventional items such as brewed coffee, hot and cold beverages, pastries, croissants, sandwiches, waffles, gelato, and so forth.

“We plan to open by the end of April, beginning of May at the latest,” said Kyeong Kim, a spokesman for Caffe bene.

Caffe bene operates more than 1,200 cafes across the globe.

The company has opened five cafes in New York/New Jersey since it entered the US market in 2012. Those franchises are located in Times Square, Flushing, Fashion Institute of Technology, Fort Lee, NJ, and Palisades Park, NJ. The company has plans to add another forty stores–including one in Astoria– to these two states in the near future.

Its stores attempt to replicate the look and feel of traditional European coffeehouses.


Icon 52 rents out in six weeks

The Icon52

The Icon52

April 15

A Woodside rental building, touted as affordable luxury, is full after being on the market just six weeks, according to the Daily News.

The 9-story building, called Icon52, is comprised of 66 units, with prices significantly higher that the rent most other Woodsiders pay.

Studios at the 52-05 Queens Blvd building start at $1,500 per month, with two-bedrooms reaching $2,600.

The complex, which is across the street from Calvary Cemetery, is about a block from the 52nd Street train station.

New owner takes over old bar, with plans to freshen it up

Jason Spratt, the new owner

Jason Spratt, the new owner

April 14, By Christian Murray

The Leitrim House, one of this neighborhood’s oldest bars located at 45-06 48th Ave., was sold last month and the new owner has plans to renovate it.

Jason Spratt, who is taking over the establishment, will be renaming it “The Jar” and aims to bring in a new crowd as well as make life-long Sunnysiders and Woodsiders feel at home.

The bar, which was established in 1933 as Ryan’s, has had a number of different owners and names over the years. It has catered to generations of Sunnyside and Woodside residents.

However, Spratt, who is from Ireland, also wants to bring in a younger generation.

He said he wants to change the exterior and make it more inviting. He has other modest changes in mind.

“I need to walk a fine line, since many of the existing customers are sensitive about it changing too much,” Spratt said.

He said that it is important that the establishment retains it gritty dive bar feel, complete with the pool table and dart board.

Spratt, who doesn’t like to talk about himself, wants his “dive bar” to continue to maintain its weathered look and be “a place where you feel comfortable… no matter how you look or what you do.”

Spratt said that the bar currently sells domestic pints for between $3.50 and $4.00. “We are not paying Queens Blvd rent so we can keep prices low,” he said.

Spratt said that he welcome ideas from residents as to how to make the bar more inviting and vibrant.

“I will be interested to see what comments I get,” he said.”I’m sure there will be people who will say this place should not exist or should never have been born,” he said.”Anyway, it makes for great entertainment.”

Op Ed Sunday: Small town in the big city

"Lou Lodati, 1908-1996, co-founder of Lowery Wine & Liquor, was the second Sunnyside Chamber president

Lou Lodati, 1908-1996, co-founder of Lowery’s Wine & Liquors, was the second Sunnyside Chamber president

By Rigoberto Cardoso and Patricia Dorfman

The inner workings of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce might seem irrelevant to some, but the organization’s health is more important to our future than one might think. The Chamber’s long-time slogan, “A small town in the big city” aptly suggests that we all are dependent upon each other in more ways than just business.

The organization was built mid-century by a group of people with energy and altruism, and has since then been the center of public life.

The leaders made a lot of money here and spent a lot of money here. They played hard in the way that trusted associates do (often in a politically incorrect “ratpack” fashion). But they also helped build parks, schools, the post office, a bank, parking under the elevated train line—as well as give to the needy. They stuck together.

Sunnyside is on the brink of enormous change and we can all sense it. It feels as though powerful and wealthy people have taken a look at Sunnyside and decided to carve it up like waffles. We need to keep a voice of our own or we will be overwhelmed by the clamor of the interests of commercial real estate brokers, big business and long-term landowners along our rezoned town center. Long-term quality of life for residents is at stake.

Of course, property owners are entitled to make their profits as well as brokers and developers. A chamber is not anti-commerce.

But residents need a varied commercial landscape, not just stores which can afford giant rents. Small businesses make Sunnyside charming and need a place and chance to flourish. Professionals and merchants worry they will be displaced. Residents worry they will not be able to afford to live here. The already begun building turnovers and coming rebuilding will be easier for locals if done more in plain sight.

We need an independent group not connected to the city, expressly concerned with small business. The BID (AKA Sunnyside Shines) was created by Chamber members and does a great job at its official four-fold mission: holiday lights, security, cleanliness and promotion. But the BID cannot speak for residents and local businesses as well as we can for ourselves. The BID is a property owners organization, designed to keep up property values. Only two out of the 17 BID board members are small business owners as per its proscribed make-up. There is also just one resident board member permitted, as per its make-up.

Even if it wanted to advocate strongly on a local specific topic, our BID would be constrained by the city, which regulate all BIDs. You or we cannot join the BID. Furthermore, it serves a specific location. The Chamber is for the wider area, and invites all, from residents to small business owners.

Want a say in what is happening? Join the chamber as an individual. The monthly lunch is a regular public forum in a friendly setting. Bring your business cards and promote, or bring your initiative and get something started. Have an idea to help yourself or others? The chamber is a good place to start. No board member or officer is paid, but many find getting involved opens up business opportunities.

Last month, a variety of local business owners expressed similar wish lists:

1) Hold monthly meetings at different venues so as to showcase more businesses, and sometimes in the evenings. Of course, the excellent Dazies will be one of the places to be showcased, too.

2) Put the focus on small business and local concerns.

3) Members can be from anywhere and all are welcome but specify that officers who often speak for all must have an office here or live here.

4) Invite speakers or officials to speak on topics which entertain or directly relate to small business needs — quarterly business card exchanges, topics such as social networking, search engine optimization, press release writing, local history, subjects such as new health care rules for business.

5)  Board outreach to more diverse business leadership.

6)  Rehire Luke Adams when possible, repost his historical photos and schedule outings.

7) Among events suggested were golf outings, and bus trips.

As early chamber members knew, recreational events held by the chamber have a serious component, not just to raise funds. Those who can find some common ground and have fun, despite different backgrounds, are more likely to do business with each other and even be happier and healthier. More than ever, we need a place to speak freely on a local level. As our area grows and inevitably changes, we can unite to create prosperity, work together for the common good, and keep our small town in the big city.

(Cardoso has owned and run Pronto Car Service for 20 years and has served as Treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce for seven years. He is originally from Ecuador. Dorfman is a local artist and designer, a former VP of the Chamber but did not run for a seat.)

Joe Crowley - Happy Passover 2014


PS 11 kindergarten children to be bused to Astoria

Congressman Joseph Crowley at PS 11 earlier this year

Congressman Joseph Crowley at PS 11 earlier this year

April 11, By Christian Murray

The Department of Education has approved a plan that will see as many as 250 PS 11 students sent by bus to a school in Astoria this fall.

The incoming kindergarten class at PS 11 will be sent to PS 171 in Astoria each day, while a new building is constructed at their overcrowded Woodside school.

The 4-to-5 year-old children will catch a bus at PS 11 (54-25 Skillman Ave.) and will be accompanied to PS 171 (14-14 29th Avenue) by their teachers.

The Panel for Education Policy voted Wednesday to bus the children to PS 171, despite calls by parents and elected officials to keep the children in the neighborhood.

The DOE was forced to relocate the children since the school’s outdated mini building–which caters to more than 200 students—is scheduled to be demolished this summer in order to make way for the construction of an 850-seat building.

The construction of the addition is anticipated to take three years, during which PS 11 will need space to accommodate its students—given the loss of the mini building.

However, since December, there has been a fierce debate as to where the incoming class of students should go.

Many parents want their children to attend school at the former St. Teresa School building in Woodside (50-20 45th Street). Others have suggested space at the new Sunnyside elementary school—located at 45-45 42nd Street– which is opening this fall.

However, both those schools fall within school District 24, while PS11 is in District 30.

The Department of Education has plans to revamp St. Teresa’s school building and use if for children in District 24, which is home to PS 199.

However, none of the parents viewed Astoria as a good location due to its distance.

‘It is unconscionable that in the face of vehement objections from many parents and community members, the Department of Education is moving forward with a plan to bus kindergartners from Woodside to a school almost three miles away in Astoria,” said Congressman Joe Crowley.

Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, the DOE will send the children by bus to Astoria. For the following two years, they will be sent to PS 339, another Woodside that’s being built. PS 339 will be located at 39-07 57th Street, less than half a mile from PS 11.

Crowley, as with this neighborhood’s other elected officials, praised the DOE for the construction of the school building,

“I commend the School Construction Authority and DOE for allocating millions of dollars toward this [school] expansion,” he said earlier this year.

However, “The DOE’s poor planning and judgment will now place a significant burden on 250 of our youngest students and their families,” Crowley said.

Meanwhile, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said: “I am disappointed that the DOE could not find alternative options suggested by PS 11 parents which kept their children closer to home.”


ups advertising sunnyside post-1

Sunnyside Center Cinemas’ iconic sign comes down


April 11, By Christian Murray

The Sunnyside Center Cinemas sign, which has dotted the Queens Blvd landscape for as many as 60 years, was taken down last night after a building inspector ordered that it be removed.

The sign, according to a variety of unconfirmed reports, was hit by a truck yesterday. One man claimed last night that he witnessed a truck back into it. He said the truck then left the scene.

Rudy Prashad, the theater owner, said he was devastated that it had to come down. He said he isn’t sure what he is going to replace it with, although he said was toying with the idea of introducing a digital sign.

He said that his lease ends this year and that his landlord has not informed him whether his lease will be renewed.  Prashad said that if he is able to renew the lease he will in a better position to invest in getting a quality sign.

In the meantime, the theater has reopened. It was closed all day yesterday.

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