Tag Archives: Bayside

Paraguayan restaurant opening on Bell Boulevard

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

An anticipated offshoot of the popular Sunnyside restaurant I Love Paraguay has landed in its location in Bayside‘s Bell Boulevard and is getting closer to opening in the coming months.

Sabor Guarini has sparked both the curiosity and the appetites of curious Bayside residents by putting up a large sign on top of the establishment in mid-September, with a stylized flower attracting the attention of passersby.

The restaurant is located at 40-04 Bell Blvd. next to another incoming establishment: Sangarita, a tapas bar with a specialized selection of margarita and sangria cocktails.

A source involved with the eatery said that it could be open as soon as October, but declined to give any further information.

Paraguayan natives Nancy, Carlos and Fabricio Ojeda run I Love Paraguay, which opened in 2007 and is located at 43-16 Greenpoint Ave. in Sunnyside.


Bayside Little League Rebels honored during Sunday Stroll

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Bayside Little League Rebels

After winning the Borough Cup last month by defeating the Richmond County Raiders at Yankee Stadium, the Bayside Little League Rebels were honored during the annual Bell Boulevard Sunday Stroll on Sept. 27.

Special guests Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein came out to Bayside to congratulate the boys, and one girl, of the Rebels on capturing the Borough Cup for Queens and for their impressive season.

After speaking to the team and acknowledging what they had accomplished the public officials had a couple of surprises for the championship team.

First, Braunstein presented a certificate of merit presented to each member of the team in recognition of their achievement in winning the Borough Cup. Secondly, the team as a whole was presented with a Citation of Honor from the Queens Borough President’s Office for “defeating the Richmond County Raiders and demonstrating that years of hard work, dedication and fun will bring you to your dream. The team is six years in the making and one girl strong.”

After the presentation of the certificates and citation, the Rebels had the chance to take photos with both Katz and Braunstein.


CBS drama ‘Elementary’ scheduled to shoot scenes in Bayside Monday

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Robert Pozarycki

Sherlock Holmes may be stopping in Bayside Monday as the hit CBS crime drama “Elementary” is slated to shoot scenes along Bell Boulevard.

Notices about the filming went up on the boulevard on Wednesday advising drivers about parking restrictions that will take effect on Sunday night into all day Monday. Filming is scheduled to take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, though production trucks may arrive as early as 7 a.m.

The modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth stars Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson. It was not immediately known whether both stars would be on set Monday.

The parking restrictions, which will take effect 24 hours prior to filming, will occur along both sides of Bell Boulevard between 38th and 39th avenues and both dead end blocks of 218th Street north and south of 40th Avenue. Restrictions will also be in effect on the south side of 40th Avenue between 218th and 219th streets.

Vehicles found parked in these areas will be towed away by the NYPD and relocated in the neighborhood at no penalty to the owners. To find a relocated car, call 718-687-0097.

The filming is weather permitting; current forecasts indicate the city could be feeling the effects of Hurricane Joaquin on Monday.


Local pol brings together community, school officials on proposed Bayside high school

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gregg Sullivan

Councilman Paul Vallone held a community engagement meeting at his district office on Tuesday regarding the proposed high school to be built at the Bayside Jewish Center.

Representatives from the School Construction Authority (SCA) and Department of Education (DOE) attended the meeting along with community board members and interested residents. This is the second conference the councilman has held on the subject.

Discussion revolved around plans for the future of the new school, with the SCA made several commitments to increase community input and encourage civic participation in the school’s installation.

Although the contract between the SCA and the Bayside Jewish Center has already been signed, the SCA vowed that the community will be able to determine what type of programs the school will provide. This could include specialized programs and areas of study otherwise uncommon in northeast Queens.

The SCA and Vallone’s office will build a group of community stakeholders to gather input on which specialized programs the school will host.

The SCA also committed to take the context of the neighborhood into consideration with regards to the immediate area’s residential character. This had led to concessions on the size and scale of school to minimize the impact on the community of mostly single-family homes.

Additionally, an environmental impact study slated to start during the summer was pushed back after concerns that it would be more accurate if conducted during the school year.

Vallone said that although the school site selection process has historically lacked transparency, the commitments the SCA and DOE have made to date are significant steps toward improving community engagement.

“I don’t think anyone supports the SCA’s site selection process, a process that clearly needs to be changed,” said Vallone. “However, our continuing community engagement forums will ensure that our community’s voices are heard and that we play an integral role in our children’s educational future.”

DOE spokesman Jason Fink said that the SCA is fully cooperating with residents and everyone else who might be affected by the incoming school.

“As we continue our effort to reduce school overcrowding in Queens and throughout our city, we are fully engaging our partners to ensure ongoing dialogue on all aspects of this project as we move forward.”

State Senator Tony Avella has also been involved in recent inquiries surrounding the school’s installation in Bayside.

According to the senator, Attorney General Karin Goldman has declared that proper regulations were not observed in the sale of the Bayside Jewish Center because the organization did not give his office the opportunity to review whether or not the deal was compliant with existing statutes.

Bayside Jewish Center President Joshua Sussman was unable to be reached as of press time.


Parts of Bayside’s Bell Boulevard to close for ‘Sunday Stroll’ this weekend

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel


Several blocks of Bell Boulevard in Bayside will close this Sunday for the Bayside Village BID Sunday Stroll, which gives residents and shoppers the chance to leisurely take in all the shops and restaurants the strip has to offer.

Two blocks of the boulevard between 39th and 41st avenues will close from noon to 5 p.m. on Sept. 27 for the stroll, which is sponsored by the Bayside Village Business Improvement District and the city’s Department of Transportation.

The Sunday Stroll aims to create an opportunity for pedestrians to be able to walk around and enjoy the area without any vehicular interference.

Unlike the traditional city street fair, Bell Boulevard will not be filled with vendors or stands of any kind. It instead will be left vacant for the purposes of providing more space for the community to walk across this stretch.

All of the dining and retail establishments on this two-block stretch will have the option to display their merchandise in front of their businesses on the sidewalk, but all transactions must be made inside of the businesses themselves.

The walk is subject to cancellation due to any inclement weather. Families from Bayside and beyond are invited to come out and enjoy all of the great programs and activities planned for the day.


All-cash deal for Bayside building sets price-per-square-foot record

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Updated 4:57 p.m.

Buying a building on Bayside’s Bell Boulevard cost the area’s newest property owner a record-setting bundle.

Cushman & Wakefield announced on Monday it brokered a $4 million all-cash deal for 41-19 Bell Blvd., a single-story building currently leased to Lucille Roberts gym.

Measuring a total of 4,648 square feet, the new owner– AB Capstone– paid $860.59 per square foot, which the broker called a new record for the area.

The building is located in the heart of a bustling retail area and within walking distance of the Bayside Long Island Rail Road station. Its commercial and residential zoning allows for the owner to build up to 11,426 square feet on the site.

“Bayside has been generating a lot of attention from local and foreign investors looking to capitalize on the upside in the area,” said Stephen R. Preuss of Cushman & Wakefield, who exclusively brokered the deal. “This property has tremendous add-on value with below-market rent and development rights which fueled our marketing and allowed us to procure a buyer at a record-breaking price.”

It’s unknown as of yet whether the new owners plan on altering the property. According to sources, AB Capstone plans to continue Lucille Roberts’ lease.


Web series follows out-of-work actor in Flushing

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Marc Palmieri

It takes more than a train ticket to get onto a Broadway stage, and no one knows that better than the characters of “The Thing,” a web series about an actor living out of his element in Flushing.

Marc Palmieri, a 44-year-old playwright, screenwriter and actor, based the semi-autobiographical series on his time working at his father’s insurance agency during the difficult first part of his career.

“I got to write about a lot of things that I enjoy thinking about in regards to theater, particularly small theater, and just the life around that,” said Palmieri, who also plays the main character. “And all the adventure, drama and romance of people so passionate about doing plays that the rest of their lives can be in shambles.”

The 17-episode season revolves around a community of theater actors and directors reunited to put on a show after being apart for 15 years. The characters were friends who had a theater group together in Manhattan, chasing big dreams before the difficulties of life intervened and sent them down separate paths.

Palmieri’s protagonist is especially removed from theater life because of the physical and emotional distance he experiences commuting into Manhattan from Flushing on the 7 train.

While Flushing and the western parts of Queens have since exploded with cultural and artistic offerings, Palmieri had a culture shock during his first experiences in a neighborhood mostly famous for its Asian food and exports.

“The city recedes in the background, and you can kind of feel like you are literally out of the scene,” said Palmieri, who spent seven years living in Flushing and currently resides in Bayside.

While he does bear a striking similarity to his character, in real life Palmieri has seen considerably more professional success than his fictionalized alter ego. He currently teaches in the creative writing program at City College and has successfully written and produced multiple plays, including one that was chosen as a “Critic’s Pick” by The New York Times in 2009.

“Thankfully, I live a different life than him,” said Palmieri. “Definitely compared to this character, I’m super busy.”

For more information on “The Thing” and links to see all of the web episodes, visit the series online at www.theplayis.com.


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. 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, a commenter made Gliagias aware 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 people’s shared frustrations, 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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.”


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.