Tag Archives: Astoria

Suspect assaults, robs Astoria furniture store employee over missing sofa: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

Police have released video footage of a man who they say assaulted and robbed an Astoria furniture store employee last month after he went looking for a refund on a sofa that he said was never delivered.

According to authorities, the incident began just before 6 p.m. on July 23 when the suspect entered American Design Furniture at 32-94 Steinway St. and confronted the employee about the sofa.

The furniture buyer started arguing with the 24-year-old store worker and asked for his money back, police said. He then allegedly pulled out a knife and placed it against the victim while still demanding his money.

After the employee handed over the $500 he wanted, the suspect began to punch the victim and took another $1,500 from his pants pockets.

The suspect then fled the store in a vehicle in an unknown direction. The victim was removed to Mount Sinai Queens for minor injuries, which included a cut to his forearm, and was released, police said.

Authorities describe the suspect as a Hispanic man, about 28 to 30 years old, 6 feet tall and 190 pounds with short, black hair and freckles. He was last seen wearing a pink shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


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Car-sharing company car2go to make its move into western Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of car2go North America

Updated Tuesday, Aug. 11 12:05 p.m. 

Joining Citi Bike, which launched last week in Long Island City, a new company will soon call Queens home, giving residents another quick, easy way to get around.

Car2go, a car-sharing company that launched in Brooklyn last October, has announced that it will expand into Queens — primarily Long Island City and other western Queens neighborhoods – starting Aug. 29.

“Since the twilight of the trolley system many decades ago, there really hasn’t been a reliable option for New Yorkers to travel between Brooklyn and Queens without going all the way through Manhattan,” said car2go Brooklyn General Manager Tom McNeil. “Queens is a bustling hub of cultures, small businesses, international cuisine and affordable housing opportunities that have long been a challenge to access. We believe that with the rapid adoption of car2go in Brooklyn, we can help make it even easier for members to live and explore beyond the reach of the subway.”

The company, which was started in Germany, rents out a fleet of white and blue Smart cars that car2go cardholders can use by either using the company’s app or website, calling the customer call center or spotting one of the cars on the street. Once unlocking the car with a car2go card, users can use them for one-way or round trips at $0.41 a minute plus a $1 driver protection fee.

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Once finished using the car, users can park at any unmetered space or residential neighborhood street within the car2go home area. Parking, fuel insurance and maintenance are included at no additional cost.

With the Aug. 29 expansion Long Island City, Astoria, Woodside and Sunnyside, car2go’s home area in the greater New York City area will grow from 8 square miles to 44 square miles. The expansion is expected to bring an additional 25,000 members and will add 100 Smart cars to the 450 in Brooklyn, totaling 550 cars in New York City.

“We’re excited to see car2go bring a sustainable and sensible transit option to Queens, extending the reach of public transit and helping our residents get the most out of our borough,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said.

For more information or to register to become a member, visit www.car2go.com or follow @car2goNewYork on Twitter.

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Astoria Flea at Kaufman Astoria Studios returns with Saturday night markets


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Pete Olsen

The Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios is back and with a new twist.

The popular market, which received immense positive feedback when it first launched last May, will open once again for a night market on Sept. 12, 19 and 26 from 6 to 11 p.m.

The Astoria Flea & Food Night Market, a partnership between LIC Flea & Food — Queens’ largest outdoor market — and Kaufman Astoria Studios, will operate on the studios’ outdoor lot, the first of its kind in the city.

Visitors will be able to enter the lot from 36th Street either from 34th Avenue or through the grand entrance on 35th Avenue featuring a 40-foot-high steel gate, designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group.

“I’m thrilled to partner with Kaufman Astoria Studios and open their outdoor movie lot to the general public. It will be a fun and family-friendly destination to enjoy the remaining evenings of summer,” said Joshua Schneps, LIC Flea & Food president. “Our first-class flea vendors offer the opportunity to discover unique items to buy and our food vendors serve up delicious eats you can’t find anywhere else.”

Kaufman Astoria Studios is currently the home of hit series such as “Orange is the New Black,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Alpha House” and “Sesame Street.”

The Astoria Flea & Food Night Market at Kaufman Astoria Studios, which is in walking distance from the M, R, N and Q trains, will offer visitors the best from the LIC Flea & Food and will also feature new vendors selling exclusively at the night market.

Items for sale include everything from food, antiques, collectibles, arts and crafts, fashion and more.

Vendors who are interested in selling at the market can now visit www.LICFlea.com or email info@licflea.com to apply. For updates visit Facebook.com/LICFlea or follow @LICFlea on Twitter and Instagram.

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Queens Council on the Arts inaugurates junior board of trustees


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Nicole E. Reiner/QCA

The Queens Council on the Arts (QCA), located in Astoria, has inaugurated a junior board of trustees.

According to QCA Development Coordinator Nicole E. Reiner, the junior board is comprised of 10 young professionals passionate about making an impact in their communities and bringing new perspectives to the boardroom table.

In accordance with its mission statement, the QCA, founded in 1966, has spent the past 50 years working “to foster and develop the arts in Queens County and to support individual artists and arts organizations in presenting their cultural diversity.” The junior board, with its diverse cultural makeup and professional experience in fields ranging from education to municipal administration to entrepreneurship, will come together with the goal of working with QCA staff to strengthen the nonprofit’s work as an arts services organization.

Four members of the junior board — Argentina Flores, Monica Sarmiento Castillo, Morgan Jones and Omar Solis — have already undertaken a project to advance toward this goal. Along with QCA staff, they have begun pooling their language and media skills to create a web series of multilingual informational videos designed to provide career-building skills to artists and art organizations.

In addition, the junior board organized a guided tour of Kaufman Astoria Studios, as well as a meet-and-greet with Principal Donna Finn of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, which included a student dance concert.

“Hearing Donna speak with pride about her accomplished students and teachers and their vision for the school’s further development was a spine-tingling highlight,” Reiner said.

QCA’s junior trustees, who are mostly in their 30s, will benefit from working with the more experienced senior board of directors, who will mentor the junior board and help them develop fundraising knowledge, make professional contacts and build their resumes. This mentorship will prepare the junior board to eventually succeed the current board of directors.

The following are the 10 members of the junior board of trustees:

Aryana Anderson – associate producer, Amplify Inc.
Monica Sarmiento Castillo – assistant director, Spanish graduate program, St. John’s University
Eileen Diskin – alumni relations director, Rudolf Steiner School
Claudia Filomena – NYC regional lead, NY Rising Communities Reconstruction Program, NYS Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery
Argentina Flores – founder, QNS Collective
Morgan Jones – senior advisor of outreach, Office of the Mayor
Alexandru Lucaci – personal banker, Investors Bank
Emily Schwartz – public programs manager, King Manor Museum
Emily Rios – blogger, We Heart Astoria
Omar Solis – founder, Digital Villain

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Phony motorcycle seller robs buyer at gunpoint in Astoria: NYPD


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video courtesy of NYPD

A man who was supposedly selling a motorcycle robbed his buyer at gunpoint in Astoria, stealing $2,500, according to authorities.

Police released video footage Wednesday night of the suspect, who is accused of robbing the victim after meeting up with him on June 17 at about 8 p.m.

The suspect and the buyer, a 45-year-old man, got together that day to arrange the purchase of the motorcycle, authorities said. The two entered the victim’s car and the suspect directed him to drive to 21-16 35th St.

When they arrived, the suspect pointed a gun at the buyer’s head and demanded his money. He then handed over $2,500 and the suspect fled.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


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Co-worker gets cash back following Astoria street robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

A woman almost lost a bag of cash in an Astoria robbery last month, but her co-worker was able to chase the perp down and retrieve the money, police said.

The victim, a 25 year-old woman, was heading to a bank to deposit money with her co-worker just before 10 a.m. on July 6 when the incident occurred, authorities said.

The NYPD have released these photos of the suspect.

The NYPD have released these photos of the suspect.

As the victim was walking near Steinway Street and 30th Avenue the suspect snatched the bag containing store proceeds and began to flee.

According to police, the victim’s male co-worker then ran after the suspect and was able to retrieve the money, and the suspect escaped empty-handed.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.

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First Queens Citi Bike station debuts in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

A longtime dream for Long Island City residents finally came true as Citi Bike made its grand entrance into the neighborhood and Queens for the first time.

Motivate, the company that operates Citi Bike, the Department of Transportation and local elected officials and leaders gathered Wednesday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the borough’s first-ever Citi Bike station located on Center Boulevard right on the waterfront.

This station, which is the first of 12 in Long Island City, is part of the Citi Bike expansion announced last October which is expected to double the size of the bike share network from 6,000 to 12,000 bikes throughout the city over the next two years.

“New Yorkers love Citi Bike. It has transformed the way we get around. It’s providing an alternative that doesn’t just move, but it moves and it changes at the pace of our city,” said Jay Walder, president and CEO of Motivate. “But now we will see the real potential of Citi Bike as it moves out to more communities and more New Yorkers can experience the freedom of bike share from Long Island City and Astoria, to Bed Stuy and Gowanus, Red Hook, Harlem and many other places.”

There will be 91 new stations installed by the end of the summer during the first phase of the expansion, which also includes stations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

Stations in Long Island City, which will be installed in the next couple of weeks, will be found in locations such as by the Vernon Blvd-Jackson Av subway station, in front of MoMa PS1, next to the LIC Flea & Food and by Queensboro Plaza. There will also be a station by the Queensbridge Houses.

“We never ever stopped believing that this could happen because it’s good for Queens and if it’s good for Queens its good for New York City,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “This is a tremendous victory [not only] for Long Island City but for all of Queens. It is one that we never ever gave up on. This is a dream come true. This moment is a dream come true.”

Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted in 2013, but was pushed back after equipment damage from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

Once all stations are installed by the end of the summer, the DOT and Motivate will begin the community outreach and planning process for the next phase of expansion, which includes stations in Astoria.

“The inclusion of Long Island City was a long time coming but I am glad it has finally arrived. Bike share will allow people to enjoy our neighborhood in a healthy, fun way and facilitate easier travel around western Queens, an area in dire need of better mass transit,” state Senator Michael Gianaris said. “I am thrilled to see western Queens given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of Citi Bike and look forward to its further expansion into more of our neighborhoods.”

Along with the expansion, Motivate has replaced the software that powers Citi Bike, replaced software and hardware at all exiting stations and docking points, and added 1,000 new and upgraded bikes to its fleet. An additional 1,400 bikes will be added this summer to stock up the new stations.

The bikes, which were developed in partnership with Olympic bike designer Ben Serotta, have new features, including higher-quality parts and upgraded seats.

To celebrate the program’s expansion, Citi Bike is offering a $25 discount, up until Aug. 31, to new members. For more information visit www.citibikenyc.com/expansion.

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PHOTOS: Queens residents enjoy a fun ‘Night Out’ with New York’s Finest


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Promoting greater harmony between police and the people they serve, Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime brought thousands of Queens residents out to venues across the “World’s Borough” for family-friendly activities.

From Astoria to the Rockaway Peninsula, each Night Out event included free games and activities for children of all ages as well as refreshments, live music and other entertainment. Residents also had the opportunity to meet with the officers who serve their community and learn more about the NYPD’s various crime prevention programs.

Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, attended each gathering and presented proclamations to the precinct commanders. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who made the rounds at Night Out events across the city, stopped by the 113th Precinct’s Night Out in Springfield Gardens.

The National Night Out Against Crime, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities. Millions of people across the U.S. and Canada were estimated to have participated in Night Out events Tuesday evening.

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The Catskills Comes to Queens celebrates the best in farm-to-table fare


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Foodies from across the borough were given the chance to sample farm-fresh epicurean delights during The Catskills Comes to Queens, a tasting event celebrating the farm-to-table movement, held at Flushing Town Hall on Saturday.

The culinary event was created by New York Epicurean Events co-founders Chef David Noeth and Joe DiStefano, famed food writer behind Chopsticks and Marrow, the wildly popular guide to adventurous eating in Queens.

“As someone who’s been writing about food in Queens for years, it’s always been a dream of mine to do a food festival,” DiStefano explained. “In early 2015, I met Ellen Kodadek, the executive and artistic director of Flushing Town Hall, and she told me that they wanted to do more culinary programming. For months beforehand, I’d been having all sorts of wonderful meals made with Catskills-sourced ingredients—grass-feed beef, farm-fresh eggs, free-range chicken, locally foraged mushrooms—at my business partner David Noeth’s house.”

“At some point the idea hit us: Why don’t we go into business together and help showcase all these wonderful products, help the farmers and expose the people of Queens to some great food?” DiStefano added.

Chef Nate Felder's pork belly

Chef Nate Felder’s Berkshire pork belly with red pepper marmalade.

The Catskills Comes to Queens featured a delectable array of mountain-fresh fare from some of the borough’s best chefs. Chef David Noeth’s beef heart tartare was accompanied by cheese from Vulto Creamery in Noeth’s native Walton, New York.

Chef Nate Felder of The Astor Room in Astoria topped tender maple syrup-cured Berkshire pork belly with a red pepper marmalade and served them over a bed of sour cream grits. Lamb and goat tacos dressed in homemade queso fresco, crisp corn salsa and an earthy corn crema were on the menu at New World Home Cooking Co. courtesy of The Food Network’s 2010 Chopped champion Chef Ric Orlando.

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The Food Network’s 2010 “Chopped” champion and New World Home Cooking Co. Chef Ric Orlando.

Smokehouse favorites were popular throughout the festival. Chef Alfonso Zhicay of Casa del Chef Bistro in Woodside featured succulent short ribs braised in an intoxicating blend of fruit chutney and Madeira wine served atop a briny bed of homemade pickled carrots and cabbage.

Chef Danny Brown's

Chef Danny Brown’s torchon of La Belle Farms foie gras and guinea fowl.

Chef Danny Brown, of Danny Brown’s Wine Bar and Kitchen in Forest Hills, crafted an exquisite torchon of La Belle Farms foie gras and guinea fowl accompanied by hazelnut oil and fresh microgreens. Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 7 runner-up and Sotto 13‘s Chef Ed Cotton offered a twist on traditional American fare with his mini rabbit and mortadella hot dogs served between toasted brioche buns topped with mustard and spicy kirby relish.

Bravo's "Top Chef" Season 7 runner up and Sotto 13 Chef Ed Cotton prepares his rabbit and mortadella hot dogs

Bravo’s “Top Chef” season 7 runner-up and Sotto 13 Chef Ed Cotton prepares his rabbit and mortadella hot dogs.

Smokey fare ruled the outdoor courtyard of Flushing Town Hall as well, where Chef Tyson Ho’s whole barbecued hog from Arrogant Swine took center stage, its head displayed on the table, presiding over the festivities. Guests were delighted by bite-sized treats, such as the lamb sliders from Chef Harry Hawk of Schnack and the Eagle Hollow Farms barbecue chicken sliders from Chef Lou Elrose of the soon-to-be-opened Charred smokehouse and bar in Middle Village.

Smoked beef tongue sliders from Harry & Ida's Meat and Supply Co.

Smoked beef tongue sliders from Harry & Ida’s Meat and Supply Co.

Adventurous eaters enjoyed the warm, earthy smoked beef tongue sliders topped with birch bark-infused mayo and pickled heirloom tomatoes from Chef Will Horowitz of Harry and Ida’s Meat and Supply Co., while M. Wells Steakhouse Chef Hugue Dufour’s lamb tagine provided a flavorful feast for the senses.

Chef Hugue Dufour unveiling his gigantic lamb tagine

Chef Hugue Dufour unveiling his gigantic lamb tagine.

Silk Cakes bakery’s Pandan cupcakes topped with coconut buttercream and white chocolate truffle nearly vanished in an instant. Delicate pastries by Rudolf Merlin at Creme French bakery and Leske’s Bakery’s peanut butter and Cotton Hill goat cheese donuts provided a sweet finish.

“We like to think that we’re bringing the best products in New York State to the New York’s best chefs at New York City’s best venue,” DiStefano added. “And what better place to do it than Flushing, which was once itself farmland.”


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Astoria Lego designer featured in new documentary


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

Astoria resident Cody Wells is building his dreams one Lego piece at a time.

Wells is the Lego designer behind the company C3Brix — which specializes in Lego mosaics, portraits, models and figures — and in the past year, he has seen an increase in success, including being featured in the documentary “A LEGO Brickumentary.”

His love for Legos started at a very young age, when out of fear of ghosts, he created a “Ghostbusters” ghost trap. Since then he realized that if he could imagine it then he could build it.

However, transforming his passion into a job didn’t happen until a few years ago when he was still in his home state of Missouri and was facing a difficult time in his life. He created with Legos as a way to keep himself happy and started noticing that after showing his creations to regulars at a local restaurant he worked at, that he was getting attention.

“I wasn’t making any money out of it; I was just doing it for fun,” Wells said. “I started pulling out the Lego and I’m like, ‘I think I got something here.’ It’s the only thing that makes me happy.”

At the same time, he met Katie Proctor, an actress from New York City and now his fiancée, who stopped at the restaurant. After showing her one of his Lego creations — a DeLorean — on their first date, she suggested that if he was going to create Legos as a job that he should move to New York.

So in 2011, Wells made the move to Astoria and began studying everything that had to do with Legos and also pieces that could work with Legos such as Mega Bloks, Laser Pegs and Kre-O.

“I wanted to know every piece ever made so if someone says I want that made, I can make it the best that’s capably, humanly possible,” he said.

A turning point in his life happened when he took a trip to the Lego store at Rockefeller Center and asked for one of his WALL-E figures to be put on display in its window. There he found out that the window was reserved for the Lego user group I LUG NY.

Almost a year later, he met two members of the group, Brian Wygand and Will Smart — who are now his best friends — at the Lego store in Queens Center mall and found out they had been looking for him after seeing the WALL-E figure, which the Rockefeller Center store put on display without Wells knowing.

He was then welcomed to be a part of the group, filled with individuals he had aspired to be like. He credits Wygand, Smart, Billy Murphy and Mike Bader for helping him feel like he was a part of something and not alone.

Although he continues to be a part of I LUG NY, Wells decided to go on his own with C3BRIX with the desire to not just display his creations but also to make a living and allow children to interact with the Legos.

“For me personally, I have to create because not only is this a source of income but I want to give [my kids] hope that you can fulfill your dreams,” he said. “I want to show my kids that there is more to life than the small town they grow up in.”

Since then Wells has been invited to participate in events such as the LIC Flea & Food in Long Island City, and he was also invited to create four models for the 50th anniversary of the World’s Fair.

While attending the BrickFair LEGO Convention, where he took home first place in sci-fi moves with his Star Trek Enterprise model, he and two other designers were approached by the filmmakers behind “A LEGO Brickumentary” and were interviewed on their craft. The movie, narrated by actor Jason Bateman, was released on Friday and on Aug. 2 Wells will take some of his creations to the Manhattan premiere.

He also creates portraits, which resemble photographs, for families as presents and takes orders on just about anything.

“Whatever you can think of my job is to make it out of Lego. Don’t call me for Lego, call me for something you like and them ask me to make it in Lego,” he said.

For now Wells, continues to make his creations out of his Astoria apartment, with his children coming to visit from Michigan where they live with their mother. Both his children — Colton and Cydney — have also tried their own hands at creating pieces, with his son at times assisting Wells.

He has also started a partnership with the Manhattan store Little Shop of Crafts to help expand its activities for children.

“It’s cool to have a dad that nobody else has. Nobody else has a Lego designer job like he does. So it’s kind of cool to say my dad is a Lego designer in New York City,” his 12-year-old daughter said.

As his success continues to grow, Wells hopes to one day have a show such as TLC’s “Cake Boss” where he can take large orders from customers for special events.

And although Wells has no affiliation with the actual Lego brand, he said that he is thankful for what Lego has done for his life.

“I’m indebted to them for helping me through my childhood. I’m indebted to them for helping me create a career to influence my children and hopefully other children to follow their dream,” he said. “I’m one of the lucky few that did come to New York and believe the headlines that were told to me, and I’m living it.”

For more information on Wells and C3Brix, visit c3brix.com or www.facebook.com/C3Brix.


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Top five brunch spots in Astoria and LIC


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via The Queens Kickshaw Facebook page

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

With jaw-dropping city views and an impressive roster of fun weekend activities and outdoor events, Astoria and Long Island City have become premier summer destinations in the city.

Whether you’re enjoying a concert in Astoria Park, browsing the LIC Flea Market, exploring art at MoMA PS1 or sneaking a peek at some of the area’s amazing open houses, kick off your weekend by fueling up at one of the neighborhoods’ top brunch spots.

LIC Market
21-52 44th Dr., Long Island City
718-361-0013
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This cozy eatery is part American bistro, part rustic general store, with exposed white brick walls, chalkboard menu and wooden, farmhouse-style bar. The menu at LIC Market is frequently updated according to season and freshness, with much of their produce picked within a day of serving.

Photo courtesy of LIC Market

Photo courtesy of LIC Market

Brunch favorites include the slow roasted duck hash ($14), dirty rice frittata ($12) and buttermilk pancakes ($14) served with homemade berry jam, toasted pumpkin seed butter and maple syrup. For those seeking lighter fare, the ricotta and pignoli salad ($10) is a bounty of fresh arugula, golden raisins, toasted pine nuts, orange slices and roasted shallot vinaigrette. Sip on the traditional mimosa ($8) or a cup of freshly brewed, organic coffee sourced from direct trade micro-lots and roasted in Long Island ($2).

LIC Market is also a purveyor of homemade delights, such as strawberry and black pepper jam, and roasted cashew butter, for sale in little glass jars and cans on its quaint general store shelves.

Bear
12-14 31st Ave., Long Island City
917-396-4939
Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Bear

This LIC restaurant and bar was founded back in 2011 by Executive Chef and Owner Natasha Pogrebinsky, who blends culinary traditions from the family’s native Kiev, along with Ukrainian and traditional French cuisine, to create flavorful, innovative dishes.

The dill poached potatoes ($5) and beet salad ($5) reflect Pogrebinsky’s Eastern European roots. A $15 prix-fixe brunch menu offers chicken kiev and waffles, as well as hearty borscht with a side of garlic and egg buns. Summer brunch favorites include the chilled tomato gazpacho ($9), farmer’s market mixed greens ($9) and tomato and onion sunflower salad ($7). All of Bear’s produce is locally sourced from farms in New York and New Jersey, as well as handpicked by Chef Pogrebinsky on weekly trips to the Union Square Farmers Market.

Unlike traditional brunch libations, the bloody mary at Bear is a feast for the eyes and palette, complete with a slice of candied bacon, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, jumbo celery stalk, pickles, and hard-boiled egg and olive skewer ($9).

The Queens Kickshaw
40-17 Broadway, Astoria
718-777-0913
Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Photo via The Queens Kickshaw Facebook page

Photo via The Queens Kickshaw Facebook page

This specialty coffee shop and cider bar serves up delicious, flavorful brunch fare on weekends and special holidays. The Kickshaw’s ranchers’ eggs ($14) is a zesty mix of jalapeño cornbread, guacamole, pico de gallo and sunny side up eggs. Hungry Astorians in the mood to indulge would love the mac ‘n’ cheese ($12.50), a hearty blend of Gruyère, smoked mozzarella, French beans and caramelized onions.

The kitchen sink salad ($12.50) combines a colorful mix of mesclun greens, roasted red and golden beets, and sunchokes topped with blue cheese dressing. The decadent Mast Bros. Mocha ($5) or hot chocolate ($4.50) provides a sweet finish to this brunch outing. Espresso soda ($3.25) and cold-brewed iced coffee ($3.50) are refreshing options for warm summer mornings.

Sugar Freak
36-18 30th Ave., Astoria
718-726-5850
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Midnight brunch: Friday and Saturday from noon to 3 a.m.

Photo via Sugar Freak Facebook page

Photo via Sugar Freak Facebook page

Astoria hot spot Sugar Freak specializes in festive, flavorful New Orleans fare served in a relaxed, homespun atmosphere.

Its brunch beignet sliders ($2 to $8) are a delightful mix of scrambled eggs with praline bacon and pimento cheese. The Sugar Freak breakfast ($14) is a generous platter of three eggs (any style) with homemade boudin sausage and grits in gravy with a biscuit. Waffle varieties range from sweet potato and cornbread to spicy Cajun-filled ($8) and are topped with your choice of specialty sauces, including bananas foster, chili honey, sweet and spicy condensed milk or raspberry (+ $3), oxtail grits ($15-18), chicken fried steak ($16) and the holy trinity ($16), a trifecta of fried oysters, shrimp and catfish, offer a unique spin on traditional brunch dishes. Pair them with the herb-infused green bloody mary ($10) or Creole lady marmalade, a potent gin martini with marmalade, orange liqueur and lemon.

Night owls who wish to indulge in brunch are in luck, as Sugar Freak offers a special midnight brunch to hungry late night crowds every Friday and Saturday from noon to 3 a.m.

Snowdonia
34-55 32nd St., Astoria
347-730-5783
Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m  to 4 p.m.
Monday from noon to midnight

Photo via Snowdonia Facebook page

Photo via Snowdonia Facebook page

This cozy gastro pub is known for serving up Welsh-inspired dishes two short blocks away from the famous Kaufman Astoria Studios and Museum of the Moving Image.

Snowdonia’s small brunch plates, or “platiau bach ac oer,” include the laverbread and bacon ($6), a welsh bread made from fresh “laver” or seaweed, lemon zest and oatmeal with bacon. The traditional Welsh rarebit ($9) is a rich, melted three cheese blend served on toasted baguette. Brunch entrees include shepherd’s pie ($16), leek bacon and egg pie ($12), brisket and eggs ($15), and the half English breakfast ($15) featuring two eggs any style with vegetarian baked beans, welsh banger and chorizo sausages. The sticky toffee bread pudding ($7) and bourbon brownie ($7) are sweet compliments to the savory fare.

In addition to an extensive menu of craft beer and cider, Snowdonia also features specialty cocktails like the Welsh 75 ($11), a blend of New Amsterdam gin, muddled raspberry, ginger cordial, mint and champagne float. Snowdonia’s brunch dishes are also available all day on Mondays, providing a great start to any week.

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Astoria venue to host comedic watch party for first Republican debate


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Q.E.D.

One Astoria community space is making sure everyone knows that politics doesn’t always have to be serious — especially when it comes to who is going to be taking over the White House.

Q.E.D., located at 27-16 23rd Ave., will be hosting a Republican Debate Watch Party on Aug. 6 that will feature ongoing commentary by comedians John Fugelsang and Frank Conniff in the style of the TV comedy series Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The debate, which begins at 9 p.m. and will feature the top 10 candidates in the Republican Party, will be aired and hosted by Fox News as part of the channel’s Republican presidential primary debate coverage.

It will be held in Cleveland and will be the candidates’ first television face-off.

republican_watch_party_grande

According to published reports, eight candidates are likely to attend: Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson.

While the debate is played on two large HD televisions, Conniff and Fugelsang will provide comedic and political comments.

Conniff hosts the monthly show Cartoon Dump at Q.E.D. and is also known for his role as Frank on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Fugelsang is the host of the SiriusXM show Tell Me Everything.

“The great thing about these big, live events is that people naturally want to experience them together. It’s usually through things like Twitter hashtags but it’s also a great opportunity to get out of the house and watch with everyone in a fun atmosphere,” said Kambri Crews, owner of Q.E.D.

Tickets for the watch party are $8 and include one drink and one slice of pizza. Additional food and drinks will also be available for purchase.

For more information, visit www.QEDAstoria.com or call 347-451-3873.

John Fugelsang and Frank

Comedians John Fugelsang and Frank Conniff.

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DOE leasing former Astoria Catholic school building for pre-K center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

The site of the former Most Precious Blood Catholic School, which closed its doors in June after 58 years of serving the Astoria community, will now be used as a pre-K center, according to the Department of Education.

Students and parents at the school located at 35-32 37th St. found out in January that the school would be closing at the end of the school year due to drops in enrollment and the need for costly structural repairs. Even though parents and students rallied to keep the school open, the institution shut down.

However, according to the DOE, which has since leased the building, the site will still be used for educational purposes and there are no plans to change the use of the building.

In a letter to the Most Precious Blood community in January, Reverend William Krlis, pastor at Most Precious Blood Church, said that an estimated $5.5 million in structural repairs were needed for both the school and church. The school building needed about $2.55 million in repairs and work could not be done at the site while being used full time.

Although it is not clear what work has or will be done to the site, The Courier did notice scaffolding had been set up around the school building during a visit Wednesday morning.

The DOE said the school will be safe once students arrive in September.

The Diocese of Brooklyn declined to comment.

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Woodside resident to seek Assembly seat and ‘fight for the middle class’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Brian Barnwell

Brian Barnwell is looking to be the voice of a district he has called home all his life and one he says needs a big change and new leadership.

The 29-year-old Woodside resident and lawyer has announced that he will run next year for the seat in the state Assembly representing District 30, which covers the neighborhoods of Maspeth, Woodside, Middle Village and parts of Astoria, Sunnyside and Long Island City.

The seat is currently held by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, who was first elected in 1998.

“I just feel like it’s time for a change. I feel like we need some new energy where people are going to go out and engage the community and bring the community voices into the conversation,” Barnwell said. “Everyone is getting pushed out. The teachers are being thrown under the bus. The students are being thrown under the bus. The middle class is just being destroyed and we can’t take it for granted anymore. So I want to be the voice of the middle class, because I am in the middle class.”

Barnwell’s desire to run for office was fueled recently when he began working as the director of special events for Councilman Costa Constantinides, and experienced many residents coming into the district office complaining about various issues – including affordable housing.

This made him realize that there needed to be a change and he would be that change.

The platform of his campaign will strongly focus on helping individuals in the middle class and those vying to move into the middle class. With being a member of the middle class himself, along with his family, Barnwell said he has personal experience with the issues constituents face.

“The middle class is what made this country great. It’s what makes any country great. If you don’t have a middle class, you’re in trouble,” Barnwell said.

Barnwell’s platform – focusing on taxes, education and affordable housing – includes issues such as lowering personal income and corporate taxes; helping raise minimum wage; empowering teachers, parents and administrators in local schools and creating new curriculum based on districts; building more schools; and increasing the amount of affordable housing in the developing area.

For now, Barnwell will stay at Constantinides’ office until September, then he will hit the streets and reach out to the communities to see what issues the residents are facing.

“I want people to tell me what’s wrong with this district,” Barnwell said. “You’ve got to lead. You’ve got to be a leader. This why we elect these people to be leaders, not followers, and I want to be a leader. I don’t want to be a follower.”

Barnwell will hold his first fundraiser on Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. at The Brewery NYC, located at 49-18 30th Ave. in Woodside.

For more information visit Barnwell’s Facebook page or follow @Barnwell2016 on Twitter.

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Top five summer activities in Astoria Park


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Astoria Park is an outdoor urban oasis along the banks of the East River in northwestern Queens. The nearly 60-acre park, located on 19th Street off Ditmars Boulevard, is one of the largest outdoor spaces in the borough, with splendid waterfront views of upper Manhattan, as well as both the Triboro and Hell Gate bridges.

The park is the perfect staycation destination for day trippers, tourists and neighborhood regulars. Here are our picks for the top five best summer events and activities in the western Queens green space.

Astoria Pool
19th Street

This art deco, Olympic-sized swimming pool is the largest in the city, making it the perfect place for city dwellers to cool their heels on a hot summer day. Astoria Pool is free and open to the public from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Sunbathers can soak up rays on the poolside deck while swimmers enjoy splashing around in the shadow of the Triboro Bridge. The pool offers aquatics programs and swimming lessons for youths and adults, as well as a smaller wading pool for beginners.

AstoriaPark1

Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

Special Early Bird and Night Owl swim hours are also available through the Adult Lap Swim Program, which allows swimmers to focus on fitness and swim technique. First-, second- and third-place prizes will be awarded to men and women who have completed the most lengths until Friday, Aug. 7. For more information or to register, click here.

New World Queens Festival
Astoria Park Great Lawn
Saturday, Aug. 29, noon to 9 p.m.

astoriamusicandarts

Photo via Astoria Music and Arts Facebook page

This free outdoor festival presented by Astoria Music and Arts will feature over 60 musical acts and visual artists with the goal of raising eco-awareness. Artists range from bossa nova, reggae, ska, R&B, rock, psychedelic, Americana, indie, funk, blue grass and Afro-Cuban bands. There will also be DJs, a pie-eating contest sponsored by Astor Bake Shop and Little Club Heads, a family dance party experience for children 1 to 12 years old, a dance tent featuring Sol Dance Studios, a puppet show by WonderSpark from Raising Astoria, and a giant Kaiju Big Battle Monster. There will also be an on-site outdoor exhibit featuring the work of over 30 visual artists, sculptors and painters. The event is family- and pet-friendly.

Pack a picnic 

Butcher Bar

Photo courtesy of Butcher Bar

Escape the concrete jungle for an afternoon without ever having to leave Queens. With its jaw-dropping views of the city and the East River, Astoria Park is the perfect, picturesque picnic spot. Picnic essentials include a large blanket or quilt, sunscreen, a Frisbee, a good book, cloth napkins and trash bags for post-picnic cleanup. The key to a well-stocked picnic basket is to start with locally made, handheld favorites. Stop by Butcher Bar and pick up the “PBLT” sandwich ($10.99), featuring grilled smoked pork belly, the Philly cheese brisket ($13.49) or its saucy, braised pulled BBQ chicken ($10.99) topped with coleslaw, onions and pickles. Pair these delectable sandwiches with one of its all-natural sodas, lemonade or famous Butcher Bar iced tea.

Movies on the Waterfront
Astoria Park Great Lawn

Photo courtesy of the Facebook page of Give Me Astoria

Photo via Give Me Astoria Facebook page

Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and some ice cream and head over to the Great Lawn in Astoria Park this summer for the Monday night Movies on the Waterfront series organized by Central Astoria LCD. Check out “Frozen” (August 3), “How to Train Your Dragon” (Aug. 10), “Ghostbusters” (Aug. 17) and “The Incredibles” (Aug. 24) on a big screen under the stars. Movies start at 8:30 p.m. on the Great Lawn, located off Shore Boulevard between the Hell Gate Bridge and Astoria Pool. The series is sponsored by nearby Kaufman Astoria Studios and admission is free.

Pop an ollie!
Astoria Skate Plaza
Hoyt Avenue at 19th Street

Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

This 21,500-square-foot skate park is located at the southern end of Astoria Park, directly under the Triboro Bridge. Astoria Skate Plaza features multiple levels with stairs, rails, banks and ledges of varying heights and sizes. The park was created by Who Skates, a leader in municipal, urban skate park design, and features an open design that allows for a free-form style of skating. Although an attendant will be provided during official hours of operation, skaters will need to sign a special waiver with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation before hitting the rails.

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