Tag Archives: Astoria

New Dutch Kills coffee shop looks to become community spot


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

One new shop owner hopes to bring the Dutch Kills community together over a cup of joe.

Beatrix Czagany will soon open Our Coffee Shop in the Long Island City neighborhood at 38-08 29th St. with plans to sell a variety of pastries, including Hungarian delicacies, coffees and teas.

The name of the spot comes from Czagany’s hope to become a coffee shop for the neighborhood.

“Personally owned coffee shops have more character than the coffee chains,” Czagany said. “I want to bring the people together again, like a community. I really want people to sit down, drink a coffee and have a normal conversation.”

The Astoria resident, who has been in the fitness and health business for 15 years, said she found the spot for her shop after passing by the vacant storefront while helping a friend move late last year.

Although she has no prior experience in owning a business, Czagany said her decision to open the coffee shop came from working at a friend’s pizza restaurant and realizing she enjoyed the interaction with customers better than at her current job.

She said she has also gone to numerous coffee shops throughout the city to get a taste of coffee types and an idea of site set-ups.

“I never ever thought I would be in the restaurant business. Many years ago I was thinking I would have my little own gym. And this is the opposite of that,” said Czagany, who immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 2002. “If someone told me, ‘You’re going to come to America and sell Hungarian stuff,” I would say, ‘Are you crazy?’”

Met with bills from having to fix up the site by herself and buying all equipment and items needed, Czagany has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds with hopes to open the shop by the end of September.

“I really just need a little backup,” she said. The goal of the campaign, which ends on Sept. 16, is set at $1,800.

For the time being, Our Coffee Shop will be selling pastries from Astoria bakeries as Czagany searches for local commercial kitchens where Hungarian delicacies could be handmade. She hopes to begin serving the Hungarian treats by December.

“I hope [customers] will get to know each other. It’s more like a little family spot. They are going to bring their own ideas here,” said Czagany, who hopes to hold community events at the shop. “It’s going to be shaped every month and every season there will be something new.”

Czagany plans to open Our Coffee Shop seven days a week starting at 6 a.m.

To donate to the Our Coffee Shop Kickstarter campaign, click here.

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Successful charity auction at LIC Flea, Ping Pong Open this weekend


| editorial@queenscourier.com

File Photo

The LIC Flea & Food saw great success this past weekend as the LIC Flea Charity Auction raised $1,000 for autistic and developmentally challenged children in Queens.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at the outdoor lot on the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, held a charity auction on Aug. 16 with the duo known as The Locker Rockers and auctioneer John Luke of A&E’s “Storage Wars: New York.”

The Locker Rockers are made up of Cary “The Flipper” Zimbler and Thomas “The Nose” Preston. Just like in “Storage Wars,” the duo finds units that are being foreclosed or seized and they bid to win the contents of the storage containers. The duo currently has storage facilities of their own with items such as jewelry, furniture, sports memorabilia and antiques.
Auctioneer John Luke, born and raised in North Harlem, has been in the auction business for 15 years.

During the charity auction, the group auctioned off vintage and unique items they have found in storage lockers and also items furnished and donated by LIC Flea vendors Frittering Away, Jewel Dripped, Fiza Fashion, C3Brix, Bazaar à GoGo, Imran Jewels, A Spoonful of Brownies, Drink More Good, Razor Day, Queens Pop Photo and The Locker Rockers.

They were able to help raise $1,000 which will all go to support Life’s WORC, a private, nonprofit organization offering care for people with developmental disabilities in Queens and Long Island.

This upcoming Saturday, Aug. 23, the LIC Flea & Food will be holding its 2nd Annual Ping Pong Open just days before the US Open launches in Queens. Winners will get great prizes and bragging rights. To sign up click here.

LIC Flea & Food is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be back on Sundays starting in September.

In Astoria, the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios will only be open for two more Sundays at the outdoor backlot of Kaufman Astoria Studios at 36th Street and 35th Avenue.
The flea market offers the best in food, drinks, antiques, clothing, art, accessories and much more.

Initially the Astoria Flea was expected to run for only eight consecutive Sundays starting in May, but it now will stay open until Aug. 31.

The market is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This weekend Astoria native DJ Johnny Seriuss will be spinning tunes once again at both flea markets.

 

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Mount Sinai Queens ‘tops off’ steel construction phase of $125M expansion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

Mount Sinai Queens is one step closer to becoming the hospital of the future.

The Astoria hospital’s $125 million expansion and modernization project reached the completion of the steel construction phase on Thursday as a structural steel beam – signed by hospital, community and elected officials – was lifted into place, topping off the building’s frame.

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“Mount Sinai Queens is transforming, and leading, health care in the 21st Century, and our new building represents the model hospital for the future of medicine,” said Dr. David Reich, president and COO of The Mount Sinai Hospital. “We are seeing the gold standard rise here before our eyes, and it is fantastic to see.”

The expansion, which broke ground last year and is expected to be completed in 2016, will feature a new, five-story building, an enlarged Emergency Department, new operating suites and multispecialty outpatient care.

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New windows will be installed in the existing building and central air conditioning will be provided to all patient rooms.

“It is fitting that today we are creating a new chapter in Mount Sinai’s history right here in Queens,” said Dr. Kenneth L. Davis, CEO and president of the Mount Sinai Health System. “This area – where the hospital stands today – has been a healing ground and has provided healthcare services to the community for over 120 years.”

The entrance area to the Ambulatory Care Pavilion will be named after George S. Kaufman and Kaufman Astoria Studios, who made a major donation to the hospital.

“Kaufman Astoria Studios has long been a community neighbor since 1980,” said Kaufman, chairman of Kaufman Organization and Kaufman Astoria Studios. “When you are a member of a community you help your neighbors.”

 

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Man charged with father’s murder in south Jamaica: DA


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Title

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

A 37-year-old man from south Jamaica has been arrested for allegedly killing his father Tuesday night, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Anthony Guyton, has been charged with murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

On Aug. 19 at about 10:25 p.m., Guyton allegedly fired a single shot at his father, 55-year-old Bruce Langley of Astoria, near the intersection of 143rd Street and 119th Avenue, said Brown.

Langley was shot in the chest as he sat in his Chevy Impala at an intersection a block away from Guyton’s home. According to the district attorney, police patrolling the area caught Guyton as he stood holding a 9 mm handgun next to his vehicle, a Dodge Charger, which was near the Chevy Impala.

Langley was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

“The alleged actions of the defendant are totally incomprehensible,” Brown said.

Guyton is awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.

 

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Protestors demand better housing for Pan American homeless shelter residents


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Asha Mahadevan

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Demands were made and tears were shed Wednesday morning at a protest outside the Pan American Hotel homeless shelter in Elmhurst, but this one was different from other protests of the past few months.

Protestors during the Aug. 20 rally were in support of the shelter’s residents and demanded permanent affordable housing for them.

The organizations Picture The Homeless, DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center and CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities gave the shelter’s residents a platform to air their grievances.

“The main purpose is to ratchet down the feelings between the community and the shelter,” said a Picture The Homeless spokeswoman, who goes by the moniker Ms. K. “We all want the same thing: permanent housing. That is less disruptive for the homeless and for the community.”

She also alleges that the city pays the shelter more than $3,000 per person each month and instead, if they offered the money to the residents as a subsidy toward their rent, many of them would not have become homeless in the first place.

“It is much cheaper than sending them to an area they are not familiar with,” she said.

Christine Napolitano, who lives with her three children in the shelter, agreed, adding that the four of them have to live in one room and eat food that “you won’t even give your dog.”

Napolitano is not allowed to cook in the shelter. Her children are enrolled in schools in the Bronx but her repeated requests to be transferred to a shelter in that borough have been denied.

“We are not bad people because we are homeless,” she said. “We are not here to cause trouble.”

The message seems to be getting through to the community, which for the past few months, have gathered outside the shelter and yelled insults at the residents.

“We are not against the homeless. We just don’t like the way the government is spending taxpayers’ money. If there was more affordable housing, they can get an apartment with a living room and a kitchen for $1,600,” said Irene Chu, an Elmhurst resident for the past 40 years. “Instead, children cannot even do their homework in this room in this shelter. The homeless are really the victims here. They are being abused while someone else makes all the money.”

Elmhurst resident Tom Lai claimed housing the homeless in shelters instead of creating affordable housing was “a bad idea” but he is hopeful that “good sense will prevail.”

Jaime Weisberg, 38, traveled from her home in Astoria to the shelter to offer her support.

“I have been seeing the hatred coming from the community,” she said, referring to the previous protests. “It is appalling. This doesn’t represent Queens. We are better than this.”

The Department of Homeless Services said the shelter offers residents three meals a day, case management, and job and housing counseling, which serve as the foundation for the residents to secure jobs, save money and be able to move to self-sufficiency and permanent housing.

“We are always open to hearing ideas on how to improve our families’ stay in shelters, as we know this is not an easy time for them,” DHS said.

 

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Annual ‘Celebrate Astoria Day’ to kick off Sept. 28, 2015


| editorial@queenscourier.com


Astoria now has its own day to shine.

The neighborhood will now be celebrated during an annual festival set to kick off on Sept. 28, 2015, known as “Celebrate Astoria Day.”

The official day was recognized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Councilman Costa Constantinides through a proclamation given to the local organization and blog site Give Me Astoria.

“The aim of Give Me Astoria has always been to bring the community together, and ‘Celebrate Astoria Day’ will serve to recognize not only this amazing neighborhood, but its phenomenal residents as well,” said Sanja Mylonas, founder and CEO of Give Me Astoria.

According to organizers, “Celebrate Astoria Day” is expected to “promote a sense of community” and offer residents activities and performances by local performers. The festival will also serve to help local businesses grow their relationships with the community.

For more information, visit www.givemeastoria.com.

 

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LIC chef to compete in Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Natasha Pogrebinsky is at it again and this time she is looking to take on an iron chef.

The Long Island City chef, who has appeared twice on the Food Network’s “Chopped,” will now go head-to-head with chef Esther Choi on the network’s new series “Beat Bobby Flay” on Sept. 4 in hopes to move on and battle celebrity chef Bobby Flay himself.

“They were really impressed with me as a chef and as a personality on TV,” said Pogrebinsky, who is also the owner of Bear Restaurant located at 12-14 31st Ave., about getting offered a chance to appear on the show. “They wanted me back.”

In the episode called “Ladies First,” Pogrebinsky and Choi will “thrown down in the kitchen” creating one dish, which must feature a mystery ingredient given by Flay. The dishes will then be judged by chef Marc Murphy from “Chopped” and Katie Lee, co-host of “The Kitchen.”

“It was a lot of fun and it was great to be able to show off what I could do,” Pogrebinsky said.

Whoever comes out the winner in the first round will then be able to challenge Flay with her very own surprise signature dish.

“If I get to win the first round then I can go on to the next round and challenge Bobby Flay to cook a dish that is my specialty,” Pogrebinsky said. “If I make it to the second round then I get to throw him a curve ball.”

Pogrebinsky said her third appearance on the Food Network was a lot more intense because of the competition, yet it was fun because during the taping there was a live audience that included some Queens fans.

“In ‘Chopped’ you have a little more of a chance, here you have a 50-50 shot,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun to hear your fans from Astoria and LIC cheer you on.”

Just like her two previous “Chopped” premieres, Pogrebinsky said she plans on having a viewing party at Bear Restaurant, but details are still pending.

The “Ladies First” episode of “Beat Bobby Flay” will air on Sept. 4 at 10 p.m.

 

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Auction at the Flea


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Locker Rockers

Let the bidding begin at the LIC Flea & Food.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at the outdoor lot on the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, will hold a charity auction on Saturday, Aug. 16, with the duo known as The Locker Rockers and auctioneer John Luke from A&E’s “Storage Wars: New York.”

The Locker Rockers are made up of Cary “The Flipper” Zimbler and Thomas “The Nose” Preston, co-workers at a realty company. Just like in “Storage Wars,” the duo finds units that are being foreclosed or seized and they bid to win the contents of the storage containers.

The duo currently has storage facilities of their own with items such as jewelry, furniture, sports memorabilia and antiques. One of their recent finds was a used hockey stick signed by Wayne Gretsky valued at more than $8,000.

Auctioneer John Luke, born and raised in North Harlem, has been in the auction business for 15 years and will help The Locker Rockers with the charity event this weekend at the LIC Flea. The group will be auctioning off vintage and unique items they have found in storage lockers and also items furnished and donated by many LIC Flea vendors.

All of the proceeds from the charity auction will go to support Life’s WORC, a private, nonprofit organization offering care for people with developmental disabilities in Queens and Long Island.

Saturday will also feature a Home Sweet Home theme where visitors can purchase the best in furniture, home accessories and gift items.

Nonprofit Recycle-A-Bicycle will also be in attendance at the LIC Flea with refurbished bicycles made by local teens. They will be selling the bicycles as well as bicycle-related items and crafts.

LIC Flea & Food is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will be back on Sundays starting in September.

In Astoria, the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios will only be open for three more Sundays at the outdoor backlot of Kaufman Astoria Studios at 36th Street and 35th Avenue.

The flea market offers the best in food, drinks, antiques, clothing, art, accessories and much more.

This Sunday, Aug. 17, the Astoria Flea will have guest DJ Johnny Seriuss spinning tunes from 3 to 6 p.m.

Initially the Astoria Flea was expected to run for only eight consecutive Sundays starting in May, but it now will stay open until Aug. 31.

The market is open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information visit www.licflea.com.

 

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20-year-old woman dies in Grand Central Parkway motorcycle crash


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic image

Updated 1:07 p.m.

A motorcyclist was injured and his passenger was killed when he lost control of his bike on the Grand Central Parkway early Tuesday morning, cops said.

The crash happened while the motorcyclist was traveling westbound on the roadway at about 4:30 a.m. just before the 94th Street exit in East Elmhurst, according to police.

The bike’s operator, a 21-year-old man, was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition with injuries to his shoulder and legs.

His 20-year-old passenger, Giuseppina Lascalia of Astoria, was also taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where she was pronounced dead,  authorities said.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

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Furniture at the Flea


| editorial@queenscourier.com

furniture

Visitors at the LIC Flea & Food this weekend will be able to find the perfect pieces to fill their homes.

The popular Long Island City flea market, located at the outdoor lot on the corner of Fifth Street and 46th Avenue, will hold a Furniture Flea on Saturday, Aug. 9, where vendors will offer an array of handmade, repurposed and vintage furniture pieces.

One of the vendors, G Design by Frank Gabrielsen, fabricates industrial style furniture for both the home and office. Pieces, created using reclaimed or new wood or metal, include coffee and conference tables, mirror and bed frames, and much more. Custom work is also available. For more information visit GDesignsLtd.com.

Another vendor, John J. Fondrisi or, as he’s affectionately known, “JJ,” has created an inspired brand by incorporating original fashion drawings by his grandfather Joseph Fondrisi from the Roaring ‘20s along with old black-and-white photos of his grandparents’ friends and family enjoying life during simpler times. JJ has also curated vintage home decor items, such as vintage barware, glasses and accessories as well as a few select refurbished and re-purposed midcentury antiques.

Other vendors include Valeria Munoz, and Robert Kelly of 30westvintage.blogspot.com.

LIC Flea & Food is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In Astoria, the Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios will only be opened for four more Sundays at the outdoor backlot of Kaufman Astoria Studios at 36th Street and 35th Avenue.

The flea market offers the best in food, drinks, antiques, clothing, art, accessories and much more.

Initially the Astoria Flea was expected to run for eight consecutive Sundays starting in May, but it now will stay open until Aug. 31.

The market is open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information visit www.licflea.com.

 

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Queens’ first Buffalo Exchange to celebrate one-year anniversary in Astoria


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Buffalo Exchange

ECLEEN CARABALLO

Queens’ first Buffalo Exchange will celebrate its one-year anniversary this weekend.

Last year, the thrift store, which has stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, opened its fifth New York City location and first in the borough at 29-16 Ditmars Blvd. in Astoria

The 2,167-square-foot newly renovated Buffalo Exchange store, which offers shoppers new, used and vintage fashion items from high-end designers to everyday clothing, was previously used as a paint store, bank and most recently, a Hallmark Celebration store.

This Saturday’s birthday bash will include new clothing items, giveaways, prizes and snacks.

Store Manager Rocco Paone says he’s “excited to see how well of a turnout it will be because this is the first of its kind in Astoria.”

Buffalo Exchange first began reshaping the idea of “thrifting” in 1974 through its concept of recycling, or trading in former favorites.

Since then, the independently-owned, family operated and privately-held company has added 44 more stores to the company, including the one on Ditmars Boulevard, and Paone says it is interesting to see how it has evolved.

Visitors and frequent shoppers have welcomed the idea of the store in Astoria, said the store manager, and have told him that “it’s great to have some sort of different concept of retail in the neighborhood.”

The Aug. 9 first birthday celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 29-16 Ditmars Blvd.

 

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The Doe Fund to help clean more Astoria streets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

More Astoria streets are getting cleaner thanks to the “men in blue.”

After hearing positive feedback from residents and business owners, The Doe Fund, which was initially brought to the western Queens neighborhood in April, will now expand street sweeping services to Steinway Street, Newtown Road, Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, Councilman Costa Constantinides announced Thursday.

“This will be a boon to residents and small business owners across Astoria. The ‘men in blue’ will continue to provide reinforcements and additional resources to help keep Astoria clean,” said Constantinides, who has allocated over $130,000 for street sweeping by The Doe Fund as part of the new city-wide initiative Clean NYC.

The nonprofit organization, which employs recently homeless or formerly incarcerated people as part of its Ready, Willing, and Able transitional work program, was keeping the sidewalks clean and clearing the corner trash cans along 30th Avenue, Broadway and 31st Street.

“This program will increase the quality of life in Astoria, that’s the most important. Clean the street, find new jobs and community come together to be concerned about the quality of life,” said Ahmed Jamil, president of the Muslim American Society. “At the end of the day [before] you [saw] the garbage on the streets and you now don’t see it anymore.”

Although the Department of Sanitation collects trash from corner trash cans once per day in Astoria, the expansion of The Doe Fund helps alleviate the trash and littered streets which have previously caused problems in the neighborhood, such as sidewalk accessibility and shopping issues, according to Constantinides.

“The Doe Fund, combined with community street and graffiti clean-ups, will continue to make a difference in our district and across the city,” said Constantinides, who has also allocated $30,000 in funding for graffiti removal services. “Clean streets and buildings make our neighborhood more enjoyable and inviting—a win for everyone.”

 

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Rural Route Film Festival to celebrate 10 years in NYC


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Antipode Films

One international film festival is celebrating its 10th NYC extravaganza with a weekend bash in Astoria.

The Rural Route Film Festival, organized by Astoria-based filmmaker Alan Webber, is marking a decade of showcasing international films that transport viewers beyond city life and into rural, country scenarios.

The event began in 2003, and through 2008-2009 Webber traveled around all the seven continents presenting the festival and its films.

“When Elephants Walk, the Grass Gets Beaten” (Photo courtesy of Silent Land)

This year’s anniversary celebrations will start on Friday, Aug. 8, and go on until Sunday, Aug. 10, at the Museum of the Moving Image, located at 36-01 35th Ave.

One of the themes for the festival this year, which will showcase five features and 11 short films, is the ancient pagan cultures of Eastern Europe. Films include those from Ukraine, Russia, Slovenia, Hungary, Somaliland, the United Kingdom and United States.

“I’m so proud the festival has been going this long,” Webber said. “Our 10th annual is not what I would’ve originally expected, with a wild sort of pagan theme, but the content is even better, and so much fun that I can’t wait to take it in myself.”

Select screenings will also be accompanied by appearances from filmmakers and live music.

For more information and a full schedule of the entire screenings, visit www.ruralroutefilms.com.

“Alan Webber has put together a truly dazzling and spectacular program of films for the 10th edition of the Rural Route Film Festival,” said David Schwartz, chief curator at the Museum of the Moving Image. “The selection of new and classic films and music will truly transport the audience.”

“Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors” (Photo courtesy of Kino-Lorber)

The festival will conclude on Aug. 10 with a closing night program at the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm located at 37-18 Northern Blvd. in Long Island City.

Tickets for each program at the museum are $10 for the public and free for museum members. A $27 festival pass for all screenings is also available. Advance tickets and passes are available at movingimage.us or at 718-777-6800.

 

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Astoria friends raising money to get hot sauce in stores, restaurants


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Fez Production

A group of Astoria friends are turning to Kickstarter to help them bring the heat.

Matthew Konchan, Joe Muscente and James Nestor are the creators behind the artisanal all-natural, low-sodium and gluten-free hot sauce called Chi-Cho Sauce.

For the past two years, the trio, who have backgrounds in finance and marketing, have spent hours combining and testing flavors until they came up with the “spicy and sweet” flavor, which creators said is “the best hot sauce you’ll ever have.”

“We wanted to do something different, something that isn’t going to kill you,” Konchan said. “It’s not a novelty. It looks presentable.”

After selling and giving away more than 1,000 bottles of the sauce for free at local markets, including the LIC Flea & Food, and receiving positive feedback, the Astoria residents started a Kickstarter campaign to help continue making the sauce and selling it online, as well as launch the product in stores and restaurants.

“We want something that is nice that you can put out on the table of a nice restaurant,” Konchan said.

The goal of the campaign, which ends on Sept. 12, is $8,003 and the funds will go towards manufacturing, operating, distribution and marketing costs.

Chi-Cho Sauce — the name comes from a college friend’s slang name — is created using local ingredients and cooked at a commercial kitchen in Flushing. Every bottle of the sauce is individually stamped with a batch number and “born on” date.

You can purchase a 6 oz. bottle of Chi-Cho Sauce for $9 on chichosauce.com and also find recipes and food pairings for the sauce.

“We want to maintain the brand,” Konchan said. “A fun and young company.”

To donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.

 

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Young Queens residents represent borough in Rubik’s Cube competition


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Christopher Chi

BENJAMIN FANG

These cubers are quickly gaining speed.

Four Queens residents participated in the 10th annual National Rubik’s Cube Championship this past weekend at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J.

Brandon Lin, Eric Zhao, Christopher Chi and Samuel Fang competed with hundreds of the country’s fastest Rubik’s Cube solvers in almost 20 events.

Bayside teen Brandon Lin, 15, set the North American record for solving the Square-1 cube, a multi-shape puzzle with three layers that Lin described as “shape-shifting.” His average time was 12.83 seconds, outpacing his previous top score of 13.05.

In the 3×3 Rubik’s Cube portion, the most popular event, Lin finished in the second round with an average of 15.34 seconds. He set his best personal time in nine of 15 events.

“I felt very accomplished,” Lin said after his record-breaking performance over the weekend. “Becoming Square-1 National Champion was something I was really striving for the past few months.”

Brandon Lin

Lin, a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School, has had plenty of practice with other students.

“At my school, I run a Rubik’s Cube club in which people give each other tips on how to solve it faster,” he said.

The club has hosted citywide competitions, inviting students from other schools to participate.

Lin said he has been training for four years. He began when he saw kids playing with it, so he gave it a shot. Frustrated, Lin decided to look up how to solve it. From then on, he said it was all about practice.

“The main secret is just to practice and dedication,” he said. “It’s not something where you need a high mathematical ability. Mostly it’s just memorizing sequences.”

Lin saw a familiar face this weekend in Eric Zhao, a 17-year-old Astoria resident who also attends Stuyvesant and is part of the school’s cubing club. Zhao solved his first cube in the sixth grade, improved in the seventh grade and entered his first competitive tournament in August 2010 at St. John’s University.

Eric Zhao

Now a four-year veteran, Zhao said there is no secret to solving the Rubik’s Cube.

“All the information is online and available to everyone,” he said. “You just have to want to learn it.”

Zhao placed 112th place in the tournament with a second-round average of 14.85 seconds, the best finish among his fellow Queens competitors.

In February 2010, Zhao founded CubeDepot, an online shop that sells speedcubing products. He said he started the store because he wanted new Rubik’s Cubes but not pay for them.

“I figured if I bought around ten of each, and then sold nine, I could keep one for essentially free,” Zhao said. He said in 2011, the company made about $60,000 in profit.

For Christopher Chi, 11, the national tournament was his first taste of competition. Now a seventh grade student at Bell Academy, Chi said he started cubing when he was 8, and has been learning to speed up for three years.

Chi said there is no secret to success. He said you just have to learn all the algorithms, which are a series of moves that help you solve the cube.

Chi only participated in the 3×3 and 2×2 events, placing 381st and 286th, respectively.

“It was a good experience for me, since it was my first competition,” he said. “I hope I can do better next year.”

Samuel Fang

Like Chi, Samuel Fang, 12, is new to the contest. The tournament was just his second, but he improved in all six of his events.

The seventh grader at M.S. 67 in Little Neck solved his first Rubik’s Cube just over a year ago, and began competing this year.

Fang said he was nervous with the large audience, but relished the opportunity to watch fellow cubers work at breakneck speed.

“I did see a few world records broken there,” Fang said. “It was pretty cool to see that.”

He finished 57th overall in the 2×2 event with an average of 4.46 seconds.

The tournament took place while the center displayed its Beyond Rubik’s Cube exhibition, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the cube’s creation.

 

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