Sunnyside Post

Sunnyside NY news

Sunnyside declared a “Bike Friendly Business District” by transportation advocacy group

August 15, By Christian Murray

Is Sunnyside a bike-friendly neighborhood?

One transportation advocacy group thinks so and is planning to celebrate the fact on August 23 with a bike tour around the neighborhood—which encompasses a visit to a number of bike-friendly businesses.

Transportation Alternatives, a group that is advocating for safer streets, has declared Sunnyside a “Bike Friendly Business District.” The neighborhood is the first to be bestowed with that title in Queens, and will join just two other bike-friendly businesses districts across the city.

There are 70 businesses in Sunnyside that Transportation Alternatives views as “bike friendly”—a number that led it to give the neighborhood its own designation. The 70 businesses were deemed “bike friendly” for supporting Transportation Alternatives’ campaign for a safer Queens Boulevard.

Transportation Alternatives is calling on the Department of Transportation to study—and ultimately—redesign Queens Boulevard and has been soliciting the help of local businesses and the community board. In 2013, six people were killed on Queens Boulevard and more than 150 pedestrians and cyclists were injured.

The Sunnyside bike tour will kick off at Bliss Street Plaza (46th and Queens Blvd) at 2 pm (August 23) and bicyclists and pedestrians are invited to tour six pre-selected businesses that Transportation Alternatives deems “bike friendly.” Those businesses include: Café Colombia, Bar 43, Go Natural, Arriba Arriba, Jack’s Ale House and Aubergine Cafe.

“We want to showcase the neighborhood and introduce people to businesses that are bike friendly,” said Celia Holl Castellan, the Queens organizer, for Transportation Alternatives.

Sunnyside Shines and Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars are sponsoring the event.


Lounge bar opens on Queens Blvd, with promise of good music and upscale food


August 13, By Christian Murray

A new lounge bar opened on Queens Boulevard last month that aims to cater to music lovers, sports fans and residents who enjoy eating Mediterranean cuisine.

Over Time Lounge, located at 39-31 Queens Blvd, has been up and running for about three weeks.

To date, it has been open just on Friday and Saturday nights. However, next week, the lounge bar’s kitchen is expected to open—and the establishment will begin operating each day from 11 am until late.

The owner, Christos Ioannides, said the bar will be a hotspot for people looking to enjoy a drink and listen to DJs playing house, hip-hop and reggae music. The establishment is large, providing plenty of room for dancing. Furthermore, there are plenty of mirrors that wrap around the interior walls in order for party goers to check out their moves.

“We have a great atmosphere here,” Ioannides said. “I want everyone to come here and have a good time.” He said his extensive cocktail list (which includes strawberry mojitos to water melon martinis) adds to the positive vibe.

otloungeIoannides, who is from College Point, said that Over Time is going to be an upscale establishment.

“I want this place to be nice, where people dress properly and executives feel comfortable coming here,” he said. For instance, he is enforcing a dress code, where people with excessively baggy clothes or guys wearing tank tops/white T-shirts will not be let in.

The venue has plenty of high tables and tall stools in the middle of the lounge/bar that can be easily moved for dancing. In addition, there are some couches placed alongside the walls for hanging out.

Ioannides said that he also wants sports fans to take advantage of the six big-screen TVs and come and watch the big games. “I want everyone to come here and have a good time.”

The kitchen will be serving dishes such as chicken/lamb Souvlaki, bacon wrap scallions, filet mignon burgers and salads. Ioannides’ chef, Ronnie Rowe, has spent the past 15 years working in the kitchen at Disney’s Grand Floridian resort in Orlando.

The food will be upscale, Ioannides said, although at a reasonable price.

This is Ioannides’ first bar/lounge. He said that so far he is enjoying it.

“I like people, I like food and I like to impress.”

For more information, please click here


Sunnyside non-profits to teach children how to ‘code’

August 12, By Michael Florio

This neighborhood’s local kids will have the opportunity to learn computer coding.

Two non-profit organizations, artspaceQ and the Variety Boys & Girls Club, are teaming up with the Sunnyside branch of the Queens Public Library to offer a free six-course class to 14 local children (ages 7-9), called “KidCode.”

KidCode, will be taught on Mondays and Tuesdays at 4 pm, starting October 6th. Hal Eager, programming designer with Door3—a Manhattan-based software/design firm– will be teaching the class.

Coding is the term used for creating instructions for a computer in order to get it to do something (see video of similar programs).

“Kids have the capacity to enjoy and invent their own concepts…building on the skills they are already picking up from games,” said Eager, who has a 7-year-old son.

The library will provide space, Wi-Fi and laptops for the class. The children will not need their own computer to take the course.

The program will be offered to local children on a first-come, first served basis.

For people with children interested in the program, please e-mail


Village Voice names top 10 restaurants in Sunnyside/Woodside

Salt & Fat and SunnysideAugust 12, Staff Report

The Village Voice published an article today naming the top 10 restaurants in Sunnyside/Woodside.

The list featured restaurants such as Salt & Fat to I Love Paraguay.

For the full list and article, please click here.

Two new businesses open on Queens Blvd, following departure of long-time establishments

Affordable Dental, Bonjour Hair

Affordable Dental, Bonjour European Hair Design

August 11, By Christian Murray

Bonjour European Hair Design, located at 44-19 Queens Blvd, opened Saturday taking over the space that had been previously occupied by Magic Touch Hair Salon for decades.

Sergio Cassandres, the owner of Bonjour, has been part of the Sunnyside hairdressing landscape for several years. He had owned a hair salon at 43-46 44th Street, called Europea Hair Salon, for 5 years prior to closing it in March–after his lease expired.

Cassandres’ lease came to an end around the same time that Magic Touch closed. Magic Touch closed after the long-time owner died and the deceased’s daughters struggled to keep it going, several sources said.

“My new location is bigger and nicer [than the 44th Street space] and there is more opportunity being on Queens Boulevard,” Cassandres said.

“I also wanted to stay in the neighborhood after my lease came to an end since I live around the corner and I have a steady clientele,” Cassandres, who has lived in Sunnyside for the past 10 years, said

He said he had to renovate the old salon from top to bottom since it had not been updated in 30 years.

Cassandres’ former 44th Street location is now occupied by Lucky’s, which does facials, waxings, hair and threading, while Bonjour focuses solely on hair.

Meanwhile, a dentist office—called Affordable Dental—is opening at 44-17 Queens Boulevard next week.

The dental office took over space that was previously occupied by Carpati Transport, which was in the business of shipping items to Romania. The owner of that business retired and the dentist took over the lease.

In other business news, a new physical fitness studio called Blaze Fitness is coming to 45-12 43rd Avenue, in a small space that was previously occupied by Vizhnay Accounting & Tax Services.

Carpati Transport, Magic Touch

Carpati Transport, Magic Touch

Community Board 2 makes push for affordable housing, in effort to combat soaring rental prices

Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2

Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2

August 8, By Christian Murray

The cost to rent an apartment in Western Queens has become so pricey that Community Board 2 is calling for the city to offer incentives to developers to build more affordable housing.

Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley has proposed four sections—scattered among Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City—that the city should look to rezone in order to increase the number of low and moderate income housing units.

The developers would, in essence, be offered the ability to build larger buildings in return for creating a greater number of below market-rate units.

The areas selected include a triangular section of Woodside—bound by Northern Boulevard, Broadway and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway; an area in Sunnyside bordered by 37th Avenue and Northern Boulevard from 43rd Street to 48th Street; and a number of parcels adjacent to Queens Plaza.

Furthermore, Conley is suggesting that the city review the Queens Boulevard area on the border of Sunnyside/Woodside from Calvary Cemetery to 49th Street to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

Other sites include building on top of the LIRR on Woodside Ave. between 63rd and 65th Streets—as well as on the Phipps site along the Sunnyside rail line.

Conley said that all the new development in the past decade in Long Island City—where there was no requirement for affordable housing in the zoning code—has created a “gold coast’ where over 10,000 new market rate units have been built with less than 1,000 affordable units.

This week, Modern Spaces, a Long Island City-based real estate firm, released it second quarter report that reported that the average cost to rent a luxury 1 bedroom apartment in Long Island City was about $3,200.

The Long Island City boom has also put pressure, Conley said, on rental prices in Sunnyside and Woodside, where rents have also skyrocketed.

For instance, the average asking price for a one bedroom in Sunnyside is somewhere between $1650 and $1,800, according to local real estate agents.

Conley said that the boom is forcing some people out of the district—since when their lease gets renewed the rent becomes too expensive.

Potential Rezoning Study Sites

FDNY drops plan to warehouse trucks by Lou Lodati Park


August 6, By Christian Murray

The FDNY, which aimed to purchase a site next to Lou Lodati Park to store a fleet of fire engines, has formerly withdrawn its request to acquire the site.

The FDNY notified the Queens Borough President’s office on July 29 that it no longer seeks the use of the 39-34 43rd Street location, according to a spokesman for the borough president’s office.

The FDNY initially sought the site to keep a reserve fleet of about 100 engines on hand in case any of its vehicles throughout the city broke down. Additionally, the site was to be used to warehouse its wrecked and decommissioned vehicles.

The plan, which needed to go before the borough president’s office for review, was essentially torpedoed in June–when Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced his opposition to it.

“I have serious concerns about these large trucks rumbling in and out a residential neighborhood—adjoining a park where literally thousands of children, pets, and seniors cross the street to go to,” Van Bramer said at the time.

The FDNY needed the approval of the city council to go ahead with the plan and without Van Bramer’s blessing its chances were bleak.

The FDNY withdrew its application before Queens Borough President Melinda Katz even got to weigh in on it.

“I am pleased that the FDNY has decided to withdraw its application for the proposed 43rd Street facility,” Van Bramer said. “While I support the FDNY and the brave men and women who serve it, this site is not appropriate for this use.”

The proposal, which was controversial from the get-go, drew fierce opposition from adjacent homeowners.

For instance, at the Community Board 2 hearing on the proposal — which was on the same night as the vote– Mike Kenny, a nearby resident said: “This is a residential neighborhood, not suitable for a 24 hour corridor that already suffers from increased noise, pollution and traffic.”

Some of the advocates for the plan, however, argued that it made more sense to work with the FDNY than to have no say over a commercial enterprise that would eventually take over the site. Their argument was based on the premise that something worse could move in and the community would not be able to weigh in on it.

The plan did receive the approval of Community Board 2, subject to multiple conditions. Nevertheless, at the time the board rendered its decision the FDNY had not provided the board with any information as to how many big trucks would be rolling in and out of the site.

Cozy neighborhood bar to open next week

New bar 2

August 6, By Christian Murray

A cozy neighborhood bar is expected to open on Greenpoint Avenue next week.

The bar, called Vivire, will be located at 41-21 Greenpoint Avenue on the same block as Thalia Theater and C-Town.

Andrew Renfroe, one of the owners of the 750 square foot space, said that originally he was going to open a sports bar—but his focus has changed. He said that the bar will be a little more high-end, offering a wide selection of wine and scotch.

“We will still show all the games but we want to be more than a standard sports bar,” Renfroe said. However, he said, he is still in the process of getting the feel of the neighborhood.

In order to open, the owners completely overhauled the space, which was previously a beaten-up medical office.

The contractor gut renovated the site, ripping out the old interior walls and the ceiling. The original interior brickwork is now exposed and a timber bar has been installed. The shabby front door has been replaced with glass.

Renfroe said that he will be ready to open once he receives his New York sales tax certificate, which is expected shortly.

“You’ll see a chalk board out front the day we open,” he said.

Andrew (white shirt

Andrew Renfroe (wearing white shirt, jeans)

City reducing speed limit on Roosevelt to 25 MPH

Roosevelt Ave.

Roosevelt Ave.

August 4, By Michael Florio

The traffic on Roosevelt Avenue is likely to move a little slower come September.

The Department of Transportation announced Friday that 14 new slow zones are about to be rolled out across the city, including a 5.8 mile stretch on Roosevelt Avenue.

The DOT announcement represents phase 2 of its Arterial Slow Zone program, which aims to clamp down on dangerous driving by reducing the speed limit to 25 MPH, down from 30 MPH.

The slow zone on Roosevelt Avenue will go into effect in September—and will go from Queens Blvd to 154th Street.  According to the DOT, there were five fatalities from 2008 to 2012 on this stretch of roadway.

The Arterial Slow Zones are not just about reducing the speed limit. The DOT will also change the signal timing to reduce speed and will call on the NYPD for increased enforcement. The DOT will also install temporary speed boards to alert drivers of the new speed limit.

“This will have a dramatic impact on the amount of traffic fatalities and serious injuries our City experiences every year,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “By reducing the speed limit and increasing traffic enforcement along Roosevelt Avenue, we can and will prevent tragedy from occurring.”

Phase one of the Arterial Slow Zone program was announced in May, and includes stretches of Northern Blvd and Queens Blvd.

The Northern Boulevard slow zone runs for 4.2 miles, from 40th Road to 114th Street.

Since 2008, there have been five fatalities on Northern Boulevard. One of the accidents involved 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, who was fatally struck by a truck on his way to school by 61st Street, according to the DOT.

The Queens Boulevard slow zone is 7.4 miles long, from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue. There were 23 deaths in the past six years at this location.

Restaurant offering Asian bistro to open on Queens Blvd in two weeks

Blu Orchid on Queens Blvd

August 4, By Christian Murray

A restaurant focusing on Asian bistro is opening on Queens Boulevard in two weeks.

Blu Orchid, which will be located at 45-04 Queens Blvd, will be offering an assortment of Asian menu items—from tuna noodles to Pad-Thai.

The restaurant, which is taking over the space formerly occupied by Nodus, will be owned by three Queens residents who all have a long history in the Thai food business.

Salang Niphitkumthong, who previously worked at Topaz in Manhattan for more than a decade, said that the restaurant will be offering a mixture of Thai, Japanese, French and even Spanish dishes.

“There is already Dee Thai, Yum Yum and I am Thai in the neighborhood and we don’t want to compete with them,” Niphitkumthong said.

He said his plan is to open a high-end Asian fusion restaurant that will be on a similar level as Salt & Fat and Venturo. He said his aim will be to attract local residents as well as people from outside the neighborhood.

Niphitkumthong and his partners decided to open in Sunnyside claiming the neighborhood is on an upswing. “This area is getting more popular,” he said. “People are moving to Astoria and Sunnyside,” he said.

Prame Sakul Clanuwat, a Woodside resident who is also a partner in the business, also comes with a deep background in the Thai restaurant business. He has managed Sea Thai, a popular Thai restaurant in Brooklyn, for several years.

The restaurant has hired Sakul Clanwat’s aunt to be the chef. She is presently a chef at Kittichai, a well-known Thai restaurant in Soho.

The third partner owns a Thai restaurant in Coney Island called Lotus.

The restaurant, which has room for about 30 diners, will offer items such as:

Chicken lollipop, fried calamari, rock shrimp, BBQ ribs, corn soup, salads, Pad Thai, duck confit, hanger steak, grilled salmon and tiger prawns.

Salang Niphitkumthong

Salang Niphitkumthong

Sunnyside pays tribute to late jazz legend who lived on 46th Street

Bix_Beiderbecke_croppedAugust 3, By Christian Murray

Sunnyside Shines hosted the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert underneath the Sunnyside Arch yesterday.

The concert, a big draw for residents and Beiderbecke fans throughout the Tri-state area, marked the 83rd anniversary since the jazz legend died in his 43-30 46th Street apartment on Aug. 6, 1931. He was 28.

The event featured the Sunnyside Social Club, a group of residents who play classic blues to reworked modern pop songs, and the Sunnyside Wolverines.

The Sunnyside Wolverines, which is organized by Paul Maringelli, a Sunnyside jazz fanatic, played Beiderbecke hits as well as other popular compositions from the 1920s.

The following videos were provided by Joe Depace and George Burles.