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Romanian Garden Creates Elaborate Outdoor Dining Space, Aims to Bring Joy During Tough Times

Romanian Garden, located at 43-06 43rd Ave. (Photo: Asha MacKay)

Aug. 20, 2020 By Asha MacKay

The Romanian Garden, a Sunnyside hotspot that has been offering quality pan-European fare for 25 years, has managed to get through the pandemic and is looking to thrive.

The restaurant is owned by Gabriela Bancescu, a Romanian immigrant who also owns Harmony Terrace in Sunnyside at 47-57 41st St.

Harmony Terrace has been closed since March, Bancescu said, since it has been tough to manage two restaurants. The Romanian Garden, located at 43-06 43rd Ave., however has remained open through out the pandemic.

Bancescu, a resident of Sunnyside, said all of her employees at Harmony Terrace were transitioned to the Romanian Garden and with good fortune there was no need for layoffs.

She said that her 25-year relationship with customers in the neighborhood has served her well–and she is thankful to them.

Deliveries have been popular since the beginning of the pandemic. Bancescu and her family drove orders to customers as far as New Jersey, Westchester and Long Island.

Bancescu received a PPP loan from the government at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown, but it was only 10 percent of what she said was needed to cover operations. She applied a second time but was informed there were no more funds available.

Other restaurateurs had the same problem, according to Bancescu, with many only getting 10-15 percent of what they needed.

The outdoor dining area at Romanian Garden (Photo: Asha MacKay)

She isn’t upset about the lack of aid. “There’s millions of people applying for these loans,” she said. “You cannot get everything you’re supposed to get, so they give a little bit to everyone.”

Bancescu is grateful to the city for allowing restaurants to use parking spots for outdoor dining space.

The outdoor seating area is a point of pride for Bancescu, who went all-out with decorations to match the restaurant’s interior. The white tablecloths and floral arrangements give it the look and feel of a wedding party venue.

Bancescu is finding that the outside seating brings in new customers. “They see the beautiful terrace and then they look at the menu and say wow, I want to come here,” she reports.

She has received no complaints from nearby residents about the loss of parking space.

“I have very good neighbors here. They appreciate the work we put in, they appreciate the beautiful terrace more than the parking lot,” says Bancescu.

The protected bicycle lane on 43rd Avenue between the outdoor dining area and sidewalk (Photo: Asha MacKay)

However, dealing with bicyclists hasn’t been quite so easy. She said that some speed down the 43rd Avenue protected bicycle lane, which the Romanian Garden’s outdoor seating straddles.

“In the night time they come so fast,” says Bancescu. Waiters have to be extra cautious and look three times before crossing, she added.

The business has spent a significant amount to make the outdoor dining area attractive, says Bancescu.

“I invested more than $10,000 to make a unique terrace and cozy place,” she said, noting that she wanted to create an uplifting place during these dark times.

“I just want to see people happy again,” she says.

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8 Comments

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Queens Streets for LOL

We were going to drive to the restaurant for takeout only to find that they put tables in our parking space. We shouted at them to take the tables away, but they did not listen and said something about needing to save their business. Not being heard is tyranny, let we tell you! LOL

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Gardens Watcher

Your LOL parking rants are tired. Give it up already.

But speaking of shouting at outdoor restaurants, here’s a heads-up to restaurant owners. WaPo reported a story about a group of protesters in D.C. who confronted people dining at outdoor tables on Monday night. In one case, the protestors demanded that a white woman raise her fist to support BLM (which she does), but when she didn’t comply with their demand, they literally got in her face and shouted “white silence is violence!” at her. Other protestors taunted diners and shoved cameras in their faces.

Yes, it’s come to this madness.

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Ray

There are so many people going to bed hungry. Perhaps they can turn those flowers into a meal for the poor that can not afford to eat at restaurants.

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too much bass

please stop playing blasting loud euro-disco music for the catered parties…I like to chill in the Lowery and sip my Manhattan and i can feel the bass in my chest from the music…I want to be happy again also…

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Guest

That’s really nice, better than a lot of places ugly plywood set up, but sad thing is that August is almost over, rain, wind and eventually cold weather will be here before we know it. However, I really don’t see 6ft distance between some of these (not talking about within tables) 2 seat table next to 6 ft, is definitely not 6 feet apart.
I think we’ll pass this soon, people are a lot more careful these days, we cannot completely eliminate the virus, but we’ll eventually weaken it enough so that it won’t spread too much.

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Dermot

My 80 year old mother loves the Romanian Garden. She was enjoying dinner the other night until JVB walked by and she then lost her appetite. She asked if he was still the councilman? I said yes but not for too much longer. She said great because I can’t stand him! My mom is so smart!

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Sofia

Beautiful place with huge prices. The food is good, but customer service and the waiters are lousy. Be aware that tip is included in the bill.

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Romanian gardens fan

Love this place! Great food, huge portions, and their out-door dining looks very atmospheric when i walk past. Been trying to find an excuse to dine here for the past few weeks.

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