Tag Archives: Bayside

Petition started to save Bayside Barnes & Noble


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A local woman is hoping that through an online petition aimed to keep the Barnes & Noble in Bayside open, the voices of an outraged community will be heard.

Vasiliki Gliagias has been living in Bayside for 15 years and lives only a couple of blocks away from the Bay Terrace shopping center, which is home to one of the last remaining Barnes & Noble locations in Queens.

Gliagias, along with many other book lovers, was shocked and upset when she heard that the Bayside site would meet the same fate as the Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills — which will become a Target by July 2016 — leaving Queens without the retailer.

“I have so many memories of going to Barnes & Noble and browsing through books I could read over the summer, choosing books for school from a reading list, even just getting magazines with friends,” Gliagias said. “I knew that I could not be the only one upset about such a thing. I thought about other families I see with kids in the children’s section of the store.”

Out of this anger, Gliagias launched the Facebook page “Keep Barnes & Noble Open in Queens” as a way to inform fellow Queens residents about the closings. However in just the first day the page garnered 400 likes, and the following day shot up to 1,000 likes and just kept growing.

Through this page, Gliagias was also made aware by a commenter of a similar situation in the Bronx where a Barnes & Noble location was slated to close because the company had not renewed the lease. After the community started a petition, elected officials hopped onto the issue and in the end helped the store stay at the location.

After hearing this and seeing all the comments and shared frustrations by people, Gliagias started on a petition on Change.org – which has garnered 744 supporters in less than 24 hours — with hopes that they will gain support from local elected officials and ultimately save the bookstore.

“The Queens community is not kidding around. It’s easy to shut down retail stores who are not able to pay their lease, but a special consideration should be made for educational centers like Barnes & Noble that are so important to foster a well-rounded community. Those with families insist that actual books are better learning tools for children,” Gliagias said.

The petition, which has a goal of 1,000 signatures, will be sent to property owner Cord Meyer Development calling on them to keep the Bayside Barnes & Noble open.

According to a representative from Cord Meyer Development, a HomeGoods store will take over the Bayside Barnes & Noble. The representative said that the property owner made repeated attempts at securing a long-term contract with the bookstore, but that Barnes & Noble decided not to exercise the option to renew the lease.

“Cord Meyer has not closed the book on B&N, and would welcome the bookstore back as a tenant in Bay Terrace, once they develop a business plan that would work in our shopping center,” the representative said.

Along with the Forest Hills and Bayside locations, a Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows, near St. John’s University, closed its doors at the end of last year after failing to negotiate a lease extension and a T.J. Maxx will take over the site.

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Bayside seafood restaurant closes after three decades


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Updated at 4:45 p.m.

Seafood restaurant Pier 25A in Bayside closed its doors this week after 33 years on Northern Boulevard.

Sunday, Aug. 30, was the last day the eatery—which opened in 1982—was open for business.

According to Pier 25A’s website, the restaurant was forced to close after the landlord declined to renew the lease for the iconic building, which is designed to resemble a wooden ship, at 215-16 Northern Blvd.

The landlord opted instead to tear the building down and build new storefronts over the next year.

According to the official Facebook page of Pier 25A, owners may reopen the restaurant in the future in a new location but this has yet to be determined.


An auction was held at Pier 25A on Wednesday to clear the site of collectible items, and several longtime customers stopped by to pay their respects and take a piece of their favorite restaurant home with them.

“It’s terrible,” longtime customer Richard Holzhauer said. “I’ve been coming here for 30 years with my family and it’s been a great restaurant. We’ve never had a bad meal, and we’re sorry to see it go.”

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Facebook page aims to keep Barnes & Noble in Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Queens book lovers are not ready to say goodbye to Barnes & Noble and want to make sure their voices are heard.

As a response to The Courier’s report on the closing of the Barnes & Noble Bayside location at The Bay Terrace shopping center — along with the location in Forest Hills, which will replaced by a Target — supporters of the bookstore have started a Facebook page called “Keep Barnes & Noble Open in Queens.”

According to the About section of the Facebook page, which had garnered 1,713 likes as of Wednesday morning, it has been set up as in an effort to save the book chain locations in Queens, specifically at the last remaining site in Bayside.

“Watching family locations shut down in Queens is unsettling. Barnes & Noble has operated as the largest book selection center in Queens for more than 15 years, and its closure in this area would cause great inconvenience to families, professionals and book lovers who regard this as their ‘go-to’ bookstore,” according to a description on the page. “At the request of the Bayside, Flushing and Queens communities, the Bay Terrace Barnes & Noble lease must be renewed to preserve this educational center. The Bay Terrace Shopping Center is already home to many wonderful fashion and food retail stores. Why eliminate the most convenient, enriching core of The Bay Terrace mall?”

According to a representative from the property owner Cord Meyer Development, a HomeGoods store will take over the Bayside Barnes & Noble. The representative said that the property owner made repeated attempts at securing a long-term contract with the bookstore, but that Barnes & Noble decided not to exercise the option to renew the lease.

“Cord Meyer has not closed the book on B&N, and would welcome the bookstore back as a tenant in Bay Terrace, once they develop a business plan that would work in our shopping center,” the representative said.

Supporters of the page commented on their outrage with the closing of the Bayside location – which many saw as their favorite spot to grab a book with friends or children or during lunchtime breaks – and the Forest Hills site.

The comments also echoed the frustration felt by shoppers and residents in Forest Hills last week upon hearing the news of the store shutting its doors.

This Facebook page joins other efforts by book lovers in attempts to save the book chain, such a petition that was started earlier this year to keep the doors of the Forest Hills location open.

Even as residents tried desperately to keep the store open, Target announced last week it would be opening up its first-ever flexible-format store at the location by July 2016.

A Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows, near St. John’s University, also closed at the beginning of this year after failing to negotiate a lease extension and a T.J. Maxx will take over.

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Man found dead of apparent suicide on Cross Island Parkway in Bayside


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Morning commuters on the Cross Island Parkway were shocked to see the body of a 57-year-old man hanging from an exit sign pole in Bayside on Wednesday morning.

The body was found at 6:47 a.m. on the eastbound Exit 31 of the Cross Island Parkway, according to NYPD.

The man, who has not been identified, was reportedly alive but unconscious and unresponsive when cops arrived on the scene.

He was pronounced dead upon the arrival of emergency medical technicians.

The medical examiner has not yet determined the cause of death, but the case is being investigated as a suicide.

Some commuters took to social media to write about what they had seen on their morning ride.

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Four ATM skimming devices found in past two weeks in 109th Precinct


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the NYPD

Police are cautioning the public to be mindful of erroneous charges on their accounts after four ATM skimming devices were found in the past two weeks in the 109th Precinct.

Two of the devices were discovered in automated teller machines located inside a Flushing Duane Reade store at 136-02 Roosevelt Ave., according to a statement released over social media by Deputy Inspector Thomas J. Conforti. Two additional devices were found affixed to gas pumps at the gas stations located in Whitestone at 17-55 Francis Lewis Blvd. and on the Bayside border at 29-16 Francis Lewis Blvd.

Police said that the devices were respectively discovered by workers at Duane Reade and gas station owners, who then immediately called NYPD to investigate.

Deputy Inspector Conforti said police do not know how long the devices were in place.

The Inspector further stated that it is usually a couple of months after finding the device that victims may begin to notice suspicious charges on their bank accounts.

The NYPD is advising consumers who may have used charge cards on these ATM machines or gas pumps since Aug. 1 to call credit card or bank companies and inform them of cards which may have been compromised.

The case is being investigated by the Financial Crimes Task Force. Any suspicious activity or crime should be immediately reported to the 109th Precinct.

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Star of Queens: Debra Toscano, actress, singer and voice teacher


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Debra Toscano

PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Debra Toscano is originally from Long Island but has resided in Bayside for about 15 years. She comes from a musical background with a father who worked as a music teacher and she had a lot of early exposure to the music industry. She has one older sister, who is also in the music industry as a piano player and drummer.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND AND CAREER: Toscano is a professional singer and actress who works as a music teacher in Frank Toscano Music School in Astoria, which is owned by her father. He has owned the school for over 50 years, and Toscano currently teaches there as a vocal coach. She is also working on movie called “Bohemia,” which will feature her own original screenplay and begins filming in January.

CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY: Toscano brightens the day of hospital patients by visiting with the cast of her last film project, a crime drama dubbed “Snitches.” They created a program called Snitches Give Back to visit both children and adults in local hospitals, talking with patients, signing autographs, and giving out headshots to bring cheer into the lives of patients.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Toscano says her biggest challenge as an actress is getting consistent work and locking in a gig. While acting has a glamorous image to those outside the profession, finding good acting parts and doing good work can be difficult for performers.
“When you’re in one gig you’re always looking to secure the next one,” she said. “Booking the work is always the biggest challenge to keep yourself motivated.”

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: Toscano is most proud of singing the national anthem for major sporting events including games for the New York Jets and Giants, and the U.S. Open.
“That’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever done because it’s a huge honor to sing the national anthem.”

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All remaining Barnes & Noble locations closing in Queens


| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

It’s the final chapter for Barnes & Noble in Queens, as the bookstore is shuttering its remaining location in The Bay Terrace shopping center in Bayside.

A representative from Barnes & Noble declined to reveal the official closing date or who is expected to take over the property but did admit that the property owner declined to renew the company’s lease.

“With Bayside, when our lease came back up for renewal the property owner notified us that they chose a tenant who was willing to pay rents far in excess of what we were willing to pay,” said David Deason, vice president of Barnes & Noble development. “The Queens community is extremely important to us and as a result we are aggressively looking at new locations and expect to have a new store there in the future.”

According to a representative from the property owner Cord Meyer Development, a HomeGoods store will take over the Barnes & Noble. The representative said that the property owner made repeated attempts at securing a long-term contract with the bookstore, but that Barnes & Noble decided not to exercise the option to renew the lease.

“Cord Meyer has not closed the book on B&N, and would welcome the bookstore back as a tenant in Bay Terrace, once they develop a business plan that would work in our shopping center,” the representative said.

This news comes days after it was announced that a Target would take over the Forest Hills location of Barnes & Noble. Forest Hills residents tried desperately to keep it open, starting a petition to vocalize the importance of the community’s only bookstore.

A Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows, near St. John’s University, also closed at the beginning of this year after failing to negotiate a lease extension.

Queens residents can hop over to Manhattan or Brooklyn if they want their Barnes & Noble fix.

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Verizon workers protest contract changes in Bayside rally


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Verizon employees banded together Thursday in a rally outside a Bayside building owned by the company during ongoing contract negotiations over benefits and additional job demands.

Nearly 300 people were estimated to be at the rally, which attracted approving honks from passing cars and had its own on-site DJ. Union members sang pro-union chants cheering for district leaders and supportive politicians, including state Senator Toby Stavisky, state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic.

According to union leaders, Verizon workers were having similar demonstrations all over New York and across state lines as far away as Virginia. Labor force organizers charge that pension plans and health care co-pays may be changed under the proposed new contract, and job security may be threatened by initiatives that would enable Verizon to transfer workers to job sites far from their homes.

“The company basically wants to eliminate the entire contract,” said Michael Ciancarelli, president of the Local 1106 chapter of the Communications Workers of America. “They want to take away things guys have had for 30 years.”

Jeff Branzetti, a field technician who works as the district steward of a Verizon garage in Hollis, said that many of his co-workers are especially concerned with proposed changes to pension plans.

“We’re all getting older,” Branzetti said, adding that every worker in his garage had been with the company for at least 17 years. “You don’t yank the carpet out under people like that, who’ve worked their whole career for you.”

Sen. Stavisky said that she would be supportive to the cause for as long as it took to get a living wage for the working men and women of Verizon.

“We’re here today to let you know that we care,” Stavisky said. “I sent a letter to Verizon letting them know they’ve got to bargain in good faith because people need a job, and they need a job that pays a decent wage and has proper benefits.”

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A spokesperson for Verizon said the communications giant was committed to reaching a contract that is fair to both employees and customers. Representatives have had discussions this week with union leaders and state that they are willing to meet with them again to continue the discussion.

“We respect the rights of our employees to hold rallies, but we truly believe the best way to achieve a new contract is not at a [street] rally, but through serious and meaningful negotiations,” the spokesperson said.

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West Nile spraying to target northeast Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of NYC Health Department

Another round of West Nile spraying is set for parts of Queens next week in an effort to reduce mosquito activity and the risk of the virus.

The treatment, which will include spraying pesticide from trucks, will take place on Monday, Aug. 24, between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Tuesday, Aug. 25, during the same hours.

Last weekend, the Health Department reported the season’s first human case of West Nile virus in a Brooklyn man. The patient, who was hospitalized with viral meningitis and over the age of 60, has been treated and discharged.

Though no cases have reported in Queens this season, the following northeast neighborhoods are “being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity and because they have high mosquito populations”:

Parts of Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst, College Point, Flushing, Linden Hill, Malba, Murray Hill and Whitestone (bordered by Cross Island Parkway, Clearview Expressway and the East River to the north; Flushing Bay to the west; Northern Boulevard, 153rd Street, 35th Avenue, Utopia Parkway, 42nd Avenue, Clearview Expressway, 33rd Avenue, 215th Place and 31st Road to the south; and Cross Island Parkway to the east).

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of the synthetic pesticide Anvil 10+10, which poses no significant risks to human health when properly used.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  •  Air conditioners may remain on; however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

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Queens business owners in Bayside and Glendale charged with tax fraud


| amatua@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua

A couple that owns a Bayside gas station and a Glendale flower shop owner were recently charged for tax-related felonies, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

The owners of Merrick Gas Services, Rajpatee Rampersaud, 45, and her husband Naren Rampersaud, 52, were charged with grand larceny in the second degree and criminal tax fraud in the second degree. The owners, who operate the gas station as a CITGO on 34-51 Bell Blvd., were also slapped with a misdemeanor for operating without a valid Certificate of Authority to collect sales tax.

They failed to pay a total tax liability of $166,810 from September 2009 through May 2014 on cigarettes, sales, withholding and corporate taxes. The Rampersauds also failed to secure a license to sell cigarettes.

merrick

Naren Rampersaud and Rajpatee Rampersaud (Photo courtesy of NYS Department of Taxation and Finance)

“This is yet another example of business owners allegedly lining their own pockets with collected sales tax money that should have been remitted to the government,” State Taxation and Finance Commissioner Jerry Boone said. “The city and state rely on collected taxes to fund programs and services for the public. Stealing tax revenue is a crime and makes every New Yorker a victim.”

Also charged was Brian Marcus, 56, of Howard Beach who owns and operates Glendale Florist at 78-17 Myrtle Ave. Marcus was charged with six counts of criminal tax fraud in the second and third degree, two counts of grand larceny in the third degree and grand larceny in the second degree. He was also charged with a misdemeanor for failing to maintain a Certificate of Authority.

Brian Marcus - Photo (NFMC)

Brian Marcus (Photo courtesy of NYS Department of Taxation and Finance)

From December 2011 through February 2015, Marcus failed to report $71,107 of sales tax to the state. He also did not file a personal income tax return in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

All three defendants could face up to 5 to 15 years in prison. The maximum penalty for operating a business without a valid Certificate of Authority is $10,000, which is imposed at the rate of up to $500 for the first day business is conducted without a valid Certificate of Authority, plus up to $200 per day for each day after.

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Pedestrian struck by car on Bell Boulevard in Bayside


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

IMG_9978

A pedestrian on Bayside‘s Bell Boulevard suffered injuries to his arm and shoulder after being hit by a car as he crossed the street.

Officers from the 111th Precinct and EMS units were on the scene after the man was struck sometime after noon. The car, a red Honda Fit, was being driven by an older woman, who stayed at the site of the accident to speak to police.

According to NYPD, the man spoke either Chinese or Korean and was unable to communicate with officers. Emergency service technicians escorted the man to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries.

An investigation is ongoing.

The victim being placed in an ambulance.

The victim being placed in an ambulance.

Officers speaking to the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident.

Officers speaking to the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident.

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Bayside civic leader Frank Skala dies at 78


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Senator Tony Avella

Bayside civic leader and retired school teacher Frank Skala died late Sunday evening in Long Island’s St. Francis Hospital.

Skala, 78, was an active community leader, serving as a member of Community Board 11 from 2003 until failing health forced him to step down in the spring of 2015. He also founded the East Bayside Homeowners Association in 1974, and was awarded a Liberty Medal in June from state Senator Tony Avella for his community service.

According to information provided by Avella’s office, Skala was a lifelong Queens resident who lived for more than seven decades in a house purchased by his parents in 1940 on Bayside’s 219th Street.

“To capture the legacy of Frank Skala and his contribution to Bayside, Queens, would require more than several sentences could possibly allow,” Avella said.

Skala completed all of his education in Queens, attending P.S. 41, Bayside High School and Queens College for both his undergraduate history degree and graduate degree in education. His career teaching junior high school American history and geography spanned for a total of 33 years.

Community Board 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld recounted memories of Skala, who refused modern conveniences such as a cellphone or computer and would always send flowers after hearing of someone suffering from an illness or accident.

“Frank was a very unique person: very opinionated, very old-fashioned,” Seinfeld said. “A real old timer who did not like modern technology but was the most thoughtful person.”

Skala is survived by a son, a daughter and two grandchildren.

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Rally at Bayside Jewish Center continues fight against proposed high school


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

The city should scrap plans to build new schools in Bayside and other parts of northeast Queens, protesters claimed at a rally on Friday.

State Senator Tony Avella organized the protest in Bayside on Friday to oppose a high school planned for the Bayside Jewish Center and two others planned for Linden Place in Flushing and the former Keil Bros. Garden Center and Nursery, which is also in Bayside.

Earlier in the year, the senator introduced a bill to require school construction agencies in highly populated areas to increase community involvement in the site selection process for new schools. The bill has successfully passed in the Senate, and is being carried into the state Assembly by Assemblyman Edward Braunstein.

“People know their neighborhood – they know what will and will not work,” Avella said. “Community boards need to be made aware of the rationale behind these decisions, what alternative options are available, and provide their own feedback.”

The proposals for Linden Place and the Bayside Jewish Center are both still pending, but construction has already begun at the Keil Bros. site.

While the rally was planned to protest all three schools, participants were particularly vocal against the proposal for the Bayside Jewish Center. Urban planner Paul Graziano said the scale of the proposed high school is too large for the plot of land occupied by the Bayside Jewish Center.

“Having a high-rise high school with 800 to 1,000 students crammed on to a single acre may work in an urban neighborhood like Astoria, but in suburban Bayside, or other parts of northeast Queens, it absolutely does not,” Graziano said.

Arlene Fleishman, president of the Mitchell-Linden Civic Association, said her group opposes the plan because they believed the area is already too congested.

“We are aware of the need for additional high school seats but the proposed site is not the right place,” Fleishman said. “This community is inundated with public facilities.”

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Bayside’s Bourbon Street roof to open on Wednesday


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Updated on Tuesday, Aug. 11

The long-awaited rooftop bar of Bourbon Street on Bayside‘s Bell Boulevard will open this Wednesday.

The popular Cajun-style restaurant will be featuring a select seasonal menu and full cocktail and beer menu in the 1,800-square-foot rooftop area, which sits approximately 30 feet above the current restaurant and will be lit with French Quarter-style lanterns.

Although construction on the rooftop bar is done, Bourbon Street is still in the process of completing work on its second-floor private event space, which can accommodate up to 140 guests for parties, business meetings and cocktail receptions. Seven television screens of up to 70 inches will show sports games and major sporting events such as boxing matches.

Work on the eatery’s interior layout and exterior façade is also still underway, including a shift in the location of the front entrance.


In addition to the new features in the restaurant’s layout, Bourbon Street will also be welcoming a new member of its kitchen staff with the arrival of chef Stephen C. Krische. He previously honed his culinary talents at the Bayhouse in Rockaway’s Breezy Point and the Rock Center Café.

At a preview event Monday, Bourbon Street owner Mark Boccia said that he felt a lot of support from the Bayside community and that a rooftop venue was something unique in the neighborhood, which is already known for its culinary offerings.

“The community really wanted something new, they really wanted a rooftop,” Boccia said. “We wanted to keep people coming to Bayside, to Bell Boulevard. We just wanted to keep up with the times.”

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Organic produce market to open on Bayside’s Bell Boulevard


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeannie Hermosura

Bayside’s Bell Boulevard will be getting a fast and fresh alternative to the avenue’s many food and dining options with the arrival of Big Green Apple Market, an organic produce store with hot and cold meals.

The market will be located adjacent to the Port Washington-bound entrance of the LIRR on Bell Boulevard between 41st and 42nd avenues. It is slated to open for business sometime in late August and will be open 24 hours.

Store manager Harry Celik, a Kew Gardens resident who originally hails from Turkey, is familiar with Bayside because he had been looking to open a store in the neighborhood for several years. He believes the upscale clientele of Bell Boulevard will be a great fit for the new market, which will prominently feature organic products, including fresh produce and dairy items.

The market is also planned to have a selection of hot and cold prepared foods, bubble tea and sushi in addition to household grocery staples.

Celik said that customers will choose Big Green Apple Market because of the affordable prices for high-quality products.

“There’s no store like ours around the neighborhood,” Celik said. “There are a few stores that are way overpriced, [especially] supermarkets with crazy prices, and we’re going to have everything with a reasonable price that everybody can afford.”

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THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

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