Tag Archives: Bayside

Expansion of Bayside church underway

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Construction to expand the Siloam Reformed Church of New York in Bayside is underway and officials expect the work will be completed this year.

The church, which is located at 35-25 Bell Blvd., is building a new wing on its current building to include a cafeteria and gym area, according to filings with the Buildings Department.

The three-story building will expand from about 8,000 square feet to a total of nearly 14,000 square feet with the Victor Han Architects-designed addition.

Siloam Reformed bought the land in 2012 for $1.8 million from the Elim Presbyterian Church of New York, according to city records.

A construction poster on the site says that the building is expected to be completed this summer.


Bayside tattoo artist brings some color to Super Bowl celebrations

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

This isn’t the Super Bowl half-time show. A tattoo artist in Bayside is holding a fundraiser on Super Bowl Sunday for the Wounded Warrior Project. And he’s enlisted tattoo artists from around the country to paint helmets to be sold at the fundraiser.

“It’s a good kickoff to a Super Bowl party,” said Tom Murphy, who owns Mean Street Tattoo, where the fundraiser will be held. “And we’re just trying to raise money for soldiers.”

Tattoo artists from England, Canada and across America used their tat skills to make paintings on helmets. Murphy is hoping to sell the helmets for $500 each and he has a total of 26 inked helmets made by 18 artists.

Murphy thought of the idea after he noticed his neighbor was a Vietnam veteran and he began to think about the new generation of veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He also thought the idea would be a good way to bring the tattoo artist community together.

“I want to grow a community,” he said. “And if we could bring a splash of color to the boulevard that would be great.”


Murphy contributed to the collection by drawing an American flag with the Purple Heart on a helmet. Some artists took a more expansive view on the soldier theme and drew things like a helmet from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.

Others strayed from the soldier theme altogether, with one artist drawing what Murphy described as an Elvis Geisha. Another helmet depicts a demon and the artist attached two deer antlers to the helmet.

“We hope this snowballs and the helmets sell,” Murphy said. “It’s for veterans, that’s all that matters.”


Queens commuters and business owners unhappy over shutdown of city’s mass transit during storm

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


The city’s subways and buses are back on track after this week’s snowstorm, but frustration over the mass transit shutdown is lingering on like piles of dirty snow left over from the blizzard.

Many Queens residents are still furious over Gov. Cuomo’s  decision Monday to shut down the city’s subway and bus system for the first time ever for a snowstorm as a precaution against the possibility of having buses and trains loaded with passengers stuck in snow.

The storm was large and real as expected, but moved eastward, hitting Long Island a lot harder, Mayor Bill de Blasio pointed out. After suspending transit overnight, the MTA slowly resumed subway and bus service at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and was running on a Sunday schedule by noon, which is about 60 percent of weekday service.

“The last time the city was put on lockdown like that was during Sandy. And that made me think that this was going to be the blizzard of the century or something,” Elvir Beharous said. A resident of Bayside, Beharous commutes by bus from his neighborhood to Flushing during weekdays for work.

After announcing a state of emergency and travel ban on all state and local roads for 13 New York counties starting at 11 p.m. Monday for all non-emergency vehicles, Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted the ban in most of those counties, including all the five boroughs, as of 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

But Beharous couldn’t make it to work on Tuesday since buses were running erratically. As a wage worker he couldn’t afford to take the loss of a day’s work.

“So I just shoveled for people all day in Bayside to make up the money,” he said on Wednesday as he waited for the now-running Q12 to take him back home from work in Flushing.

Full MTA weekday service was back on Wednesday, allowing Beharous to go back to work, even if he did have a cold from being out all day in the snow on Tuesday.

Wing Hangsong, a GED-student, didn’t mind having the day off of school, but that evening he couldn’t go to his job as a bus boy at a restaurant in downtown Flushing with buses down.

“It was necessary to close down the roads, but they could’ve at least given us some kind of emergency service,” said Hangsong, who lives on the southern edge of Flushing near Kissena Park.

Commuters weren’t the only ones affected by the shutdown.

The storm, known as Juno, took a chunk out of businesses in the downtown Flushing area, according to Dian Yu, head of the area’s business improvement district.

“It definitely wasn’t business as usual on Tuesday,” he said. “There were less people shopping in the area and most businesses took a loss.”

Thankfully, Yu said, celebrations for the Chinese New Year are still going strong and he is confident that the next two weeks of increased holiday-related business will make up for the loss.

“In a way, we’re very  lucky that this happened now,” Yu said.


Bay Terrace blaze during snowstorm caused by unattended candle: FDNY

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video via Vine/FDNY

A burning candle left unattended in a Bay Terrace home during Monday’s snowstorm sparked a fire that ripped through the second floor of the building, fire officials said.

Video footage posted by the FDNY shows the flames shooting from the second floor and roof of 15-62 Waters Edge Dr.

The fire started about 8:30 p.m. Monday at the private residence amid a blizzard warning and as snow was falling. Windy conditions made it more difficult for firefighters to battle the two-alarm blaze, according to police. It took 105 firefighters until about 10:15 p.m. to control the flames.

No injuries were reported.



Fire breaks out at Bay Terrace home during snowstorm

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos via Twitter/109th Precinct

Windy conditions from a blizzard that was blasting the area Monday night helped fuel a fire that broke out at a Bay Terrace home, authorities said.

The two-alarm blaze started about 8:30 p.m. on the second floor of 15-62 Waters Edge Dr., the FDNY said, eventually spreading to the roof of the two-story private home.


It took 105 firefighters until about 10:15 p.m. to control the flames after high winds made conditions more difficult, according to the FDNY and 109th Precinct.

No injuries were reported. The cause is still under investigation.



Developmentally disabled Queens woman missing for more than a month

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A Richmond Hill woman who is developmentally disabled and needs daily medication has been missing since early December, according to one of the centers where she receives services.

Bibi Kadim, 37, was last seen on Dec. 5. That day, Kadim had gone for lunch in the Jamaica neighborhood where Queens Centers for Progress (QCP), a place she goes for services, is located.

After she did not return from lunch, the staff called her mother. She told them that her daughter was scheduled for a medical clinic appointment that afternoon, but that Kadim had canceled, according to QCP.

Her parents, who live with Kadim in their home, have not heard from their daughter since she went missing.

The Shield Institute in Bayside, where Kadim also receives services, has known her for nearly 18 years. The center describes her as a very friendly individual who can communicate her wants and needs verbally. But, according to her parents, she has a child-like mentality.

She is also diabetic and needs daily medication and therefore is “at great risk,” according to QCP.

“We are obviously very concerned that Bibi has been missing for this length of time,” said Charles Houston, CEO of QCP said in a statement. “QCP and The Shield Institute are working with the family and police to bring Bibi home.”

Kadim is 5 feet 5 inches tall and 194 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink hoodie, navy blue jacket, blue jeans and  sneakers.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.


69-year-old woman fatally struck in Bay Terrace

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A 69-year-old woman was hit and killed as she was trying to cross a Bay Terrace street on Monday, police said.

The victim was attempting to walk across Bell Boulevard when a 57-year-old woman driving a Subaru struck the pedestrian near Estates Lane about 5:35 p.m., authorities said.

EMS took the victim, whose identity has yet to be released by police, to New York Hospital Queens, where she was pronounced dead.

Police were on the scene investigating.



Second man charged in home invasion, assault of elderly Bayside couple

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A second man has been charged in a Bayside home invasion that left an elderly couple seriously injured, the district attorney’s office said. His alleged partner in crime, who is accused of helping him steal more than $15,000, was caught last year.

“The alleged victims in this case — both octogenarians — weren’t just robbed of their possessions,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendant allegedly stole the couple’s sense of security that they were safe from harm in their own home.”

Vincente Barzola, 39, of Brooklyn, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday on burglary, robbery and assault charges, the district attorney’s office said.

Barzola, along with his accomplice, Christopher Ramirez, rang the doorbell of the couple’s 15th Avenue home on the afternoon of April 23, 2014, pretending to be from their co-op’s maintenance department, according to authorities.

Sofia Dima, then 85, answered, and the two men told her they needed a signature on a form. When she unlocked the door, they barged in, and Barzola punched her in the face, knocked her to the floor and pushed his foot to her chest, Brown said. He then choked her until she was unconscious. When she woke up, the home had been ransacked and her hands were bound with plastic ties, but she managed to alert a neighbor who called police.

Her husband, John Dima, then 87, was asleep in bed upstairs at the time. Ramirez found him there, pulled him to the floor, punched him in the back and the head, tied his hands and pepper sprayed his face, according to the district attorney.

The two took gold and diamond jewelry and a safe containing more than $15,000 in cash from the home.

The Dimas were taken to the hospital, where they spent five days recovering from their injuries. John Dima now needs a cane to walk as a result of injuries he suffered in the attack.

Ramirez, 24, was arrested on June 26 and arraigned on burglary, robbery and assault charges, prosecutors said. Both Ramirez and Barzola face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.


North Shore Towers is city’s most popular building complex in 2014

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

There is plenty to celebrate at the North Shore Towers.

Not only will the Floral Park building complex be marking its 40th birthday in 2015, but the towers were New York City’s most popular buildings in terms of sales by a wide margin last year, according to a published report based on data from real estate website PropertyShark.

That’s right, the three-building co-op at 272-40 Grand Central Pkwy. sold 115 units last year, which is 35 more units than the runner-up.

With everything from tennis courts, a pool, a fitness center, a movie theater, a golf course and annual events, the towers attract homeowners of all ages, and that could be the reason for the high number of sales.

To be fair, the median price of an apartment in the complex is about $495,000, which is quite a bit lower than the runner-up, a Manhattan building named The Jefferson, which had a median price of $1.72 million.

Honorable mentions

Some other Queens buildings made the most popular top 10, including Woodside Terrace Condo in Maspeth, which finished in fourth place with 76 units. The buildings, located at 63-14 Queens Blvd., has just 96 total apartments. Nearly 80 percent of its capacity was filled last year.

Coming in at number six is The Vista at 44-15 Purves St, which sold 48 units last year. The buildings are among Queens’ newest luxury residential developments.

And The Bay Club in Bayside took ninth place after selling 44 units last year. But the article points out the condominium has more than 1,000 units, so selling under 4 percent isn’t that much of an accomplishment.


Dining: Kalamaki in Bayside for truly Greek fare

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Tom Topousis


Ever since my first trip to Greece more than 20 years ago, I’ve been on the hunt for a restaurant here in New York that served Greek cuisine the way I remembered it in the neighborhood restaurants that I visited in Athens and on Crete.

Kalamaki, a recent addition to Bayside’s dining scene, is just such a place. This is truly Greek soul food, where the chefs stick to one of the basic anthems of Greek cooking — the ingredients are absolutely fresh and of the best quality.

Even the name, Kalamaki, is about a simple food done well. It means meat on a stick, or skewer. Kalamaki even prides itself on preparing what it calls Greek street food, the sort of fare you could grab to go if you were roaming around Athens. And at Kalamaki, the skewered meats are sensational. Deliciously seasoned beef, chicken or pork. Order three skewers for $6.25, or 20 for $39.00 — the price gets cheaper the more you buy!


Owner Aris Konstantinidis, a veteran of the corporate food industry, said he decided to open Kalamaki “out of my frustration that I can’t get a good souvlaki here.” He recalled the way skewered meats and souvlaki are served back in Greece — smaller portions that are bursting with flavor.

“Here, we make them the way we make them in Greece,” he said.

And he didn’t leave the task of cooking to neophytes. Aris hired two chefs — brothers Niko and Jimmy Syros — from the Greek winter resort town of Arachova, Greece. The brothers arrived with a treasure trove of hearty recipes, including the chef’s special, Giaourtlou Politico.

At $15.50, the Giaourtlou Politico includes portions of grilled ground lamb and beef infused with herbs and spices, served on a bed of pita bread with strained yogurt and a zesty tomato sauce flavored with peppers, onions and garlic. Accompanying the dish are two yogurt dips, one flavored with dill and the other with red pepper.

This is a dish that will satisfy skiers and hikers back in the mountain resort, Arachavo, and it is remarkably different than dishes served at most Greek restaurants here.

Another example of how Kalamaki sticks to the Greek concept of cooking and dining is the Horiatiki “Villager’s” Salad. Here the salad is prepared just the way it would be in Greece. It’s not a collection of cheese, olives and vegetables over a giant pile of lettuce. In fact, there is no lettuce.

Chef’s special, Giaourtlou Politico, grilled ground lamb and beef infused with herbs and spices. It’s served on a bed of pita bread with strained Greek yogurt, toped with a savory tomato sauce: $15.50

Chef’s special, Giaourtlou Politico, grilled ground lamb and beef infused with herbs and spices. It’s served on a bed of pita bread with strained Greek yogurt, toped with a savory tomato sauce: $15.50

Kalamaki uses only plum tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and olives with a slice of imported Greek feta on top. The salad arrives like a piece of sculpture, ingredients layered carefully together. Simple, yet incredibly satisfying.

Appetizers are also outstanding, including Grilled Feta. At $5.75, the Greek barrel feta is grilled with tomato, pepper, olive oil and herbs. My cousin, who never eats feta, practically finished the appetizer by himself.

Yogurt is the bedrock of Kalamaki’s cuisine, served in or alongside most dishes, or as a dessert with an assortment of toppings.

But this is not just any yogurt. Konstantinidis initially wanted to make yogurt on site, but the approval process was far too difficult. So he searched high and low for a source, before finding a producer near Toronto, Canada, that produced a yogurt that met his standards. It is, without doubt, the finest yogurt I have ever had, creamy and yet light.

Be sure to try a yogurt dessert. There are nine different topping combinations of nuts, fruit and nectars. We had it served with apple, cinnamon, walnuts and brown sugar. I found myself getting every last bit on my spoon, leaving Kalamaki with the memory of one last terrific flavor.

2906 172nd St., Bayside



Obama’s call to make community college tuition free gets an A from Queens students

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Students at Queensborough Community College are hopeful about a proposal that President Obama made to make community colleges free.

Samuel Yun, who goes to school full time and has to work a part-time job to help cover his costs, including tuition, was happy to hear the government may be picking up his college tab.

“That would totally help me,”  Yun, 20, said as he left his class at the Bayside campus. “It’s difficult for me because I’m taking six classes so it [holding down a job] gets in the way of me getting school things done on time.”

Obama unveiled the plan on Friday. It will need the approval of the Republican-controlled Congress to go into effect, but White House officials say they expect some bipartisan support.

If the whole country participates, Obama’s idea could help about 9 million students per year and save them around $3,800 in tuition, according to the White House. In Queens there are two community colleges — Queensborough Community College and LaGuardia Community College. Combined, the two schools have more than 30,000 students that would benefit from free tuition.

In Queensborough Community College, there are more than 16,000 students, according to the school’s records, enrolled in associate degree programs and another 10,000 students attend continuing education programs at Queensborough Community College, all of whom would be eligible for free tuition.

LaGuardia has a student body of more than 50,000 students from more than 150 countries.

“At LaGuardia we see the impact that a college education has on our students and their families,” said Gail Mellow, the school’s president. “Each year thousands of our students get the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in today’s economy.”

For Yun, he would be saving around $3,200, and the proposal would allow him to also quit his job as a waiter to focus on his dream of becoming a computer engineer.

Nearby, Isaac Masty, who just started his first semester, waited for his friends to finish class.

“If it gets passed, it would be a real boost for people coming from other countries,” the 18-year-old said. “Foreign students have such a hard time when they come here and if they were able to get a free start to their education, it would really go a long way for them.”


McDonald’s vows to return to Bell Boulevard after closing neighborhood fixture

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Ross Belsky

Bell Boulevard hasn’t seen the last of McDonald’s. The golden arches came down when the Bayside restaurant closed last year, but the franchise owner plans on opening in another location near Bay Terrace.

“We loved our customers there, but Bell Boulevard has changed a great deal over the years,” said Maria Sullivan, who owned the McDonald’s at 41st Avenue for 25 years before it closed.

The fast-food chain’s lease expired at the end of last year and Sullivan decided not to renew it, leaving an empty storefront where one of the neighborhood’s longtime fixtures once stood. Sullivan decided to close the eatery because a number of factors were taking a bite out of her Big Mac sales: the area has become filled with an array of food options for potential customers while a lack of parking and a drive-through made it hard for Sullivan to lure people in.

“I’ll miss the regulars,” Sullivan said. “There used to be different groups that would come in for coffee meetings and I didn’t mind them being there at all.”

Now she wants to find a location in a section of Bell Boulevard that isn’t as congested to allow her to provide a drive-through and parking.

“It’s just the nature of this area,” Sullivan said. “You have to have these things to be successful.”

Sullivan owns four other McDonald’s spread across Bayside and Little Neck.


Community welcomes new officers coming into Patrol Borough Queens North

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A group of 56 new members of New York’s Finest, who will be patrolling the streets of Queens, received a warm welcome Monday afternoon by the communities they will work to keep safe.

The incoming officers, who were part of the graduating NYPD class on Dec. 29 and were assigned to Patrol Borough Queens North, were greeted on Jan. 5 by local leaders and NYPD officials during a ceremony at the Langston Hughes Community Library in Corona.

Patrol Borough Queens North is made up of eight precincts ranging from locations in Bayside to Ridgewood. The officers who filled the library’s second floor on Monday have been assigned to the 104th, 108th, 109th, 110th, 111th, 112th, 114th and 115th precincts. 

Assistant Chief Diana Pizzuti, commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens North, welcomed the new cops to their posts and called them “ambassadors” for the borough, which was named the top tourist destination for 2015. 

“You are our youth, and it means a lot to me to make sure you get the best training,” Pizzuti told  the officers. “Queens is a very supportive community.”

Pizzuti also went over what she called the “Five Cs in Policing”: Community, Communication, Crime Prevention, Counter terrorism, and Character.

Pizzuti also spoke of the two slain officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, and reminded the new cops to stay safe while patrolling the streets.

“You have to stay vigilant. You wear the blue, you’re the target,” Pizzuti said. “Be mindful of your surroundings, not just at work but at home. Not everyone is our friend.”

Among the community leaders that spoke was Victoria Schneps, publisher of The Queens Courier, who congratulated and welcomed the new faces to the NYPD.

“You are the future sitting here, and I want you to know how much we respect you,” Schneps said. “We love our neighborhoods and we love the police that protect our neighborhoods.”

Seven of the eight precincts will receive six new officers. The 114th Precinct, which patrols Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside and Jackson Heights, will get 12 cops because they have more reported crimes, according to the NYPD.

“Keep an open mind and keep a positive attitude while you’re out there,” Pizzuti said. “Good luck and we’re here to help. We are one family.”


McDonald’s longtime Bell Boulevard restaurant shuts its doors

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Ross Belsky

Maybe it was the Hamburglar who succeeded in robbing Bell Boulevard of its beloved McDonald’s restaurant.

The fast-food chain’s lease expired at the end of last year and the owners didn’t renew it, leaving an empty storefront where one of the neighborhood’s longtime fixtures once stood, according to a spokesman for Bell Corp., which owns the property at the corner of 41st Avenue.

The spokesman said that Bell Corp. hadn’t increased the price of the lease or made any changes.

A spokesman for McDonald’s did not return phone calls seeking comment.

According to a published report, McDonald’s is currently looking for a new location in the Bayside area. For anyone looking for a Big Mac fix, there is another McDonald’s on Northern Boulevard at 203rd Street.


Dining: Aperitif on Bell Boulevard

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com



I waited and watched for months as the new restaurant on 39th Avenue off Bell Boulevard developed. I can happily report that it’s a winner and a welcome addition to Restaurant Row, otherwise known as the Village of Bayside.

Aperitif is a French bistro created by partners who have several similarly themed locations on Long Island. Welcome to the neighborhood!

It was a stunning space. The new team took advantage of the long, handsome bar in front and gave it a bistro look. The dining room retained the raised platform now featuring subtly lighted murals. Perfect for me, since the lighting throughout is subdued, but seated here I could easily see the menu — and what a varied and well-priced menu it is.

Having been to Paris I did feel transported into a French bistro. It was a great makeover using the bones of the previous establishment.

We were met by a friendly hostess who took us to our table, where we were greeted by our waiter. There is a full bar and extensive wine list. I chose a Syrah after trying a sample of another choice. I appreciated their willingness to accommodate my wine tasting before I made my decision.

There are many selections for appetizers, and there was my favorite — tuna tartare and mussels. The tuna was as tasty as it was pretty, with the blend of freshly ground tuna and avocado. Perfect!

There was a unique filet mignon beef Wellington and also crisp zucchini pancakes not to be missed. Another special dish included scallops crushed with pistachios over apple parsnip puree — delicious!

To make the salad special, they served it with a Champagne vinaigrette with truffle oil. Wonderful!

For my main course, I chose a perfectly prepared petite filet mignon, and my friend had a grilled salmon cooked to our request.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert. And they have many delectable choices.

We had a luscious caramel cheesecake, rich but not too much — it was sprinkled with extra caramel sauce. For chocolate lovers, there is a warm chocolate cake to die for topped with vanilla ice cream and sour cherry coulis.

Aperitif’s service matched the quality of the food. Try it. You will love it, too!

Aperitif Bistro
213-41 39th Ave., Bayside