Slow start to Flag Festival but strong ending expected

By Bill Parry

Several restaurant and bar owners behind The Skillman Project’s inaugural Festival of Flags are blaming Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath for a slow opening weekend.

The storm delayed the participating businesses from lining Skillman Ave with flags, since the flags were late to be delivered—which dampened the mood. Furthermore, many people were concerned about the victims of the storm and were hesitant to be out having fun.

Nevertheless, many people did stop in to some of the restaurants out of curiosity over the first weekend; however, the crowds were smaller than hoped.

“Many people stayed local because of the transit problems, [however] their priorities were with family in Breezy Point and elsewhere,” said Jean Clancy, the owner of Claret Wine Bar.

Initially, “the storm put a real kibosh on things,” said Mike Murphy, the owner of Murphy’s Bar. “We weren’t able to do some of the things we wanted to do because of the weather.  Even getting supplies became a problem, because our cars were low on gas.”

However, in the past day or two, people have begun to notice the change on Skillman Avenue.

Murphy’s Bar is celebrating Jamaica, with reggae music and Blue Point Rastafari Beer on tap all week. The bar now has the Jamaican flag outside and, Murphy said, “People are asking ‘what it’s all about?’”

Ana Kitich, the owner of Cafe Marlene believes that the flags are now doing what she hoped. “We’ve had some people stop in and ask about the Yugoslavian flag hanging outside.”

Flynn’s Garden Inn adopted Poland for the event, and owner Paul Flynn has been surprised by the reaction, “I had no idea there were so many Polish people in the neighborhood. We had a very busy couple of days. The food was gone immediately, and I’m on the third bottle of Luksusowa (Polish vodka) already.”

The Festival of Flags continues through next weekend, and Claret’s Jean Clancy believes a better week lies ahead. “We have Spanish food and wine all week, and Flamenco dancing on Saturday and Sunday. We’re expecting big things next weekend.”

Padraig Connelly of The Dog and Duck said, “The hurricane definitely hurt us, but it didn’t dampen our spirits about The Skillman Project.”

Print Friendly

12 Responses to Slow start to Flag Festival but strong ending expected

  1. Ich_bin_ein_Sunnysider

    In an area like Queens, foreign flags can be seen just about every where you look. They're not exactly a novelty. Good luck to the business owners just the same.

    Does anyone know if any Union Jacks were to to be seen?

  2. huh?

    I don't understand - what is a flag festival?

  3. Rick Duro

    bad timing. Fun idea

  4. Oppressed Masses

    Are plans being made for a Festival of Dogs Wearing Flags?

  5. Rick Duro

    Oh, I have certainly missed you, OM!! Glad to know you survived the storm, I was VERY worried. SUDS rescue dogs were on call ready to help you.

    There are no plans for a Dog Flag Fest, BUT, we are planning a Dog Sash Fest. Each pure breed dog would wear a sash that represented its specific breed, or country of origin. For Mutts, like my dog, they are going to wear a SUDS sash.

    We were hoping you could serve as a judge.

    Contact me @



  6. Oppressed Masses

    Thank you for your concern, RD, I'm truly touched. Here's an idea for you to gnaw on: As part of the ceremonies for the opening of the Van Bramer Dog Park, a parade of canines each wearing a sash signifying breed, country of origin, or as a SUDS dignitary. The dogs will be released into the grove of newly planted trees and given the opportunity to mark a tree as its own, by urinating or defecating on its particular tree. Said tree will thereafter be known by its special status, for example as the Poodle tree, the Rottweiler tree, or the SUDS tree. Of course, the founding members of SUDS (Fido, Pooch, Lassie, et al) will lead the parade into the grove.

    No need to thank me,


  7. Sunnyside Native

    Oppressed Masses - Grow up! It's enough with the dog bashing already. It is really old at this point. Inquiring minds want to know: Do you NOT like dogs? Are you afraid of dogs? Have you been bitten by a dog? What bug is up your ass about dogs? Your insane posts about dogs are old and ridiculous...

  8. Local Hamburgler


    OM's apathy is a defense mechanism formed after watching Marley & Me.

  9. dee

    agree with sunnyside native. grow up oppressed masses, act your age not your shoe size.

  10. Anonymous

    The trees you are concerned about in the park will be blocked from the dogs by fencing/walls. You see most dogs don't climb fences. But, I am sure your beloved public urinating athletes will find a way to 'mark' the trees in their special way. Maybe you can lead them in this endeavor?

    What we are thinking about doing, to honor the SUDS dogs that have passed, waiting for the run to be built, is naming a tree, or, possibly, planting a butterfly garden in the area in their honor. I see Monarch Butterflies from time to time, plant a little milkweed and they will come.

    Ease up on OM, he hasn't been the same since he saw Ol' Yeller.


  11. Oppressed Masses

    What does a butterfly garden have to do with dogs? I think dispensers of plastic hand gloves used (hopefully) to pick up the hot steaming presents left by the beloved doggies is a more appropriate and practical way to commemorate the dearly departed members of SUDS. Sections of the newly constructed wall you mention should be named for each of the Founding Fidos, perhaps with silhouettes of fire hydrants, allowing their surviving brethren to give these heroes the traditional lift of the hind leg salute.

  12. Patricia Dorfman

    recommend! great idea!

    we just went to quaint (italy) and had shrimp with tangy pesto on linguini, tiramisu, olive oil orange cake with ice cream, and italian wine while listening to italian popular music and opera. it was a lot of fun and the food was fabulous. we will try to get to a few other spots!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Latest News

Town hall meetings scheduled this week, with advice provided on snagging an affordable unit on LIC waterfront


Sept. 28, By Christian Murray

Sunnyside and Woodside residents will get their chance to learn how to apply for an affordable rental unit on the Long Island City waterfront this week.

The application period to snag an apartment in the Hunters Point South complex is expected to begin shortly and Community Board 2 leaders—along with the development company– will be holding two meetings this week telling residents how to apply,

The applicants will be aiming to get one of the 925 affordable apartments that are expected to be completed early next year.

The first meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 29, at the Sunnyside Community Services Center at 7pm. A second meeting will be held at the Big Six Towers on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7 pm.

Community Board 2 residents—who currently live in Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City—will be given priority over outside applicants on 50% of the units.

The income requirements are broad and tailored more toward middle income earners. For example, units have been set aside for individuals/families who make very little to those who make up to $190,000, based on numbers released last year by the Bloomberg administration.

For details on the meetings, see below:

HPS Town Halls Flyer 091714-1

Print Friendly

Sunnyside Restaurant Week kicks off October 20, more than 30 restaurants participating
Blu Orchid on Queens Blvd

Recently-opened Blu Orchid part of Sunnyside Restaurant Week

Sept. 25, By Christian Murray

Sunnyside’s second annual restaurant week is scheduled to take place next month and 32 restaurants have already signed up to participate.

The event, organized by Sunnyside Shines, aims to showcase Sunnyside as a destination for high-quality cuisine. Its goal is tempt residents to try new places and draw foodies from other parts of New York City.

The event begins on Oct. 20 and concludes on Friday, Oct. 24.

Each restaurant will serve a three course dinner menu for $25 with many offering additional lunch specials.

The participating restaurants span the globe. There will be Japanese, Turkish, Irish, Italian, Romanian, Mexican, Peruvian, French, Colombian, Filipino, Paraguayan, Tibetan, Thai, and Seasonal American food on offer.

Restaurants from Skillman Avenue through 47th Avenue have signed up this year. Last November, when Sunnyside Restaurant Week was launched, 17 restaurants took part.

“Last year’s event was a big success for neighborhood restaurants,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director, of Sunnyside Shines. “I am proud that we have doubled the number.”

Participating restaurants will also include newcomers to the Sunnyside scene—such as Tibetan Dumpling Café and Blu Orchid. Venturo and Salt & Fat, which were recently recognized as Michelin “Bib Gourmands,” will be participating again this year.

Sunnyside Shines has listed the 32 restaurants on its website. The list also includes those restaurants that have put a special menu together for Sunnyside Restaurant Week.

Restaurant week will also feature contemporary art, which will be placed at five participating restaurants. The art is being curated by No Longer Empty, a contemporary art organization, and will include work from three Sunnyside artists.

The artwork will be on display at Bucharest Restaurant, Los Verdes, PJ Horgan’s, Salt & Fat and Venturo.

“We are really looking forward to Sunnyside Restaurant Week this year,” Thieme said. However, she said: “there’s a huge problem – figuring out how to eat in all these amazing restaurants in just one week!”



Print Friendly
Venturo, Salt & Fat win coveted ‘Bib Gourmand’ award

Venturo sunnyside

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The Michelin Guide has just released its 2015 “Bib Gourmand” picks and Salt & Fat and Venturo were among the picks for the best value for money.

These two restaurants were the only Sunnyside restaurants to receive the highly-coveted prize. Restaurants are evaluated for excellence on a budget (defined as two courses and wine or dessert for $40 a head).

The Bib Gourmand restaurant winners are widely considered the best and most affordable restaurants in New York.

The popular Thai restaurant Ayada, located at 77-08 Woodside Avenue, also received the award.

Print Friendly
Sunnyside farmers market will be open all-year round, if organizers get community support

Sunnyside Farmers Market1

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The Sunnyside Greenmarket might be open all-year round if the organizers get enough support from the community.

The market, which is located on Skillman Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, is currently open on Saturdays from May through December.

However, Jessenia Cagle, the coordinator of the market, said that the farmers are willing to come to Sunnyside all-year round. She said that she has been circulating a petition calling for market to remain open every Saturday–including during the cold winter months. So far she has 800 signatures.

The petition has recently gone online and can be found by clicking on this link:

“I think the neighborhood is ready for it,” Cagle said. “There are a lot of people in the area who like fresh, local food—and they don’t want to have to go too far to get it especially in winter.”

The market, which opened in June 2007, has been a success, Cagle said. Presently there are 16 farmers/vendors out each weekend selling items such as bread, vegetables, meat and fish.

This year the market opened a month earlier than in previous years and plenty of residents came out and bought items, Cagle said. “We were very busy, it was great,” she said.

The move to open year round would not be unprecedented in Queens. Cagle said the market in Jackson Heights, which was once seasonal, now operates all year round.

Cagle said that not all of the vegetable providers will be able to come out in winter due to the seasonal nature of their produce. However, she expects about 10 vendors will participate during the cold winter months.

“I think if we get enough support, there is a strong possibility that we will be open this winter,” she said.

Print Friendly
Van Bramer’s hit-and-run bill is passed by the city council
Van Bramer, xxx , Melissa Mark Viverto (Source:  Bill Alatriste)

Van Bramer, Martha Puruncajas , Melissa Mark Viverito (Source: Bill Alatriste)

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The city council passed legislation yesterday that would fine drivers who flee the scene of an accident up to $10,000.

The Council voted 49-0 in favor of the legislation that was introduced by Jimmy Van Bramer following three hit-and-run deaths that have occurred in Western Queens in the past year.

“I am proud to have sponsored Intro 371, the ‘Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act,’” Van Bramer said in a statement. “I was moved to introduce this bill in response to the death of three people who were killed in my district by drivers who fled the scene.”

Last September, Luis Bravo, 19, was killed crossing Broadway in Woodside. Meanwhile, Karen Pheras, 20, was struck and killed around the same time crossing Queens Plaza North. Then in March, Kumar Ragunath, 64, was killed crossing Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

“They all lost their lives because of the unconscionable actions of reckless drivers who showed no concern for the lives of these three people,” Van Bramer said. “We will never know if one or all of them could have been saved had the drivers done the right thing: stopped their car and called 911.”

All three drivers have yet to be caught.

“It’s something you never get over,” said Bravo’s mother, Martha Puruncajas, at a recent council hearing.”The pain is unbearable, the pain stays,” she said, adding that she hopes stiffer penalties would prevent future tragedies.

Under the bill, those who leave the scene of an incident without taking action would be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $500 if property damage stems from the incident; $1,000 to $2,000 if a person is injured; and $2,000 to $10,000 if there is serious injury or death.

Currently there are no “civil” penalties in New York City if someone flees.

Criminal penalties are determined by the state lawmakers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law. The law would take effect ninety days after he signs it.

Print Friendly
Sunnyside Street co-named after famous sporting arena

arenaSept. 23, By Christian Murray

City officials and boxing enthusiasts turned out Saturday for the co-naming of 45th Street to pay tribute to the now-demolished Sunnyside Garden Arena where fighters and wrestlers used to duke it out.

The Sunnyside Garden Arena, a 2,000-seat venue that was once located where Wendy’s now stands at 44-11 Queens Blvd, hosted boxing events from 1945 to 1977 during the golden years of NYC boxing. Many famous fighters from that era got their start at the arena, and it was a stepping stone to the brighter lights of Madison Square Garden.

Members of the Ring 8 Boxing Association, a group for retired boxers, unveiled the new street sign along with Dave Diamante, the official announcer at the Barclays Center, and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

Two years ago, many of the same boxing enthusiasts came out when a memorial was placed on the front lawn of Wendy’s that also marked the location.

John Edebohls, who was raised just a couple of blocks away from the arena, said when the memorial was unveiled:“This place launched many careers: Emile Griffith [middleweight world champ] and Jose Torres [light heavyweight world champ].”

The arena was where Gerry Cooney launched his professional career, Edebolhs said. Cooney would go on to fight Larry Holmes in 1982 for the heavyweight title. Cooney lost.

Luke Adams, a member of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, said when the monument was unveiled that the arena was not just for boxing. “They had proms there, they made a movie there (Mr. Universe), and in 1960 John F. Kennedy had one of the first rallies of his Presidential campaign there.”

Sunnyside Gardens Arena

Sunnyside Garden Arena

Print Friendly
Irish Music Festival to hit Boulevard on Saturday, wounded veterans to benefit
Irish Music Festival

Irish Music Festival

Sept. 22, By Michael Florio

Eleven bars and restaurants—known as Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars–are teaming up to host an Irish music festival this Saturday.

The eleven establishments, which are located on or near Queens Blvd, are hosting the 2nd annual Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day music festival.

The event will kick off at 6 pm, Sept. 27, with live music and drink specials at every participating bar.

The drink specials are for party goers who purchase a $10 wristband. The specials, which are available at all 11 establishments, include $3 ciders, $4 well drinks and $5 craft beers. Each bar/restaurant may also offer its own additional specials.

There will be live music, dancing, bagpipers and DJs. There will also be authentic Irish meals, such as Bar 43’s Irish festival menu, which will consist of Irish beef stew, Irish style fish and chips and an all day Irish breakfast.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to wounded veterans who are currently being treated at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Participating bars include, The Courtyard Ale House, Bar 43, McGuinness’s Saloon, PJ Horgan’s, Molly Blooms, Jack’s Fire Dept., Bliss Street Station, Arriba Arriba, The Gaslight, Sidetracks, and Maggie Mae’s.

The event will be the Boulevard of Bars’ sixth major event in the past two years. So far, it has raised more than $25,000 for charities and local organizations.

Music Lineup - Boulevard Bars-1


Print Friendly
Sunnyside resident documents the rise and fall of Comic Book Heaven

Comic Book Heaven from E.J. McLeavey-Fisher on Vimeo.

Sept. 22, By Christian Murray

A well-known comic store called Comic Book Heaven closed last year after being in operation for about thirty years.

Joseph Liesner, 80, the owner of the comic store (which was located at 48-14 Skillman Avenue), said last year that he decided to shut down the business since there was little interest in comic books anymore. “The store’s not making any money and, besides, I’m as old as Methuselah,” Liesner said last year, with a wide grin.

Sunnyside resident E.J. McLeavey-Fisher released this video documentary on Liesner and his store.

Liesner claimed last June that the digital age is what has killed his business.

“The kids today play video games and spend all day texting their friends,” Liesner said.  “Gone are the days when kids would collect things, like stamps and sports cards.”

Comic Book Heaven moved to Skillman Avenue three decades ago, after doing a brisk business at a flea market at the corner of Queens Blvd and Jackson Avenue.

Print Friendly
Rosh Hashana Beginners Experience
Click for details

Click for details

Print Friendly


  • Random Posts