Tag Archives: Bayside

Colombian restaurant Mr. Pollo coming to Bayside


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

After being vacant for five years, a storefront on Bell Boulevard will be home to Mr. Pollo. The Colombian restaurant opens at the end of September in Bayside once construction and inspections are complete, according to the building’s owner.

In 2011 , the building’s owner installed a top floor, according to city records, but the new Colombian restaurant will only be on the ground floor. The top floor has three apartment units.

The awning for “El Original Mr. Pollo #1″ is already up and construction workers inside are expanding the kitchen, according to city records.

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Bayside resident prepares for annual pigeon race


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Xu Jun wakes up every morning at 4 a.m. and drives hundreds of miles away from his Bayside apartment with at least 70 pigeons, then lets them find their way home. He’s training his birds, known as homing pigeons, for a competition in September.

“When I was young I liked to have pigeons,” Jun said in Mandarin, speaking through translator Lisa Zhang. “It’s always been an interest of mine.”

Jun participates in various races across the northeast and he began the hobby three years ago. The World Center Memorial Race, the one Jun is currently preparing for, is hosted by the Bronx Homing Pigeon Club and takes place in late September. Each of Jun’s 101 pigeons has an individual number tag so that the race organizers can make sure nobody cheats. The organizers of the race will take Jun’s birds, along with hundreds of other contestants’ birds, to an undisclosed area where they are released. Contestants are judged based on how fast their flock comes home, according to Jun.

Jun’s birds live in a wooden nest, known as a loft, in a College Point bus repair shop. The loft serves as their home and final destination in races. Jun works for the shop and during the lulls in his work schedule he cleans the loft and feeds the birds.

Homing pigeons have two racing seasons. The first is in late September when the birds are less than a year old. The second season is in the spring and the birds are typically older by this point in their racing careers.

With the first race season approaching, Jun has been training his pigeons by taking them further and further out in New Jersey every week and then releasing them in the wild, where they will usually take several hours to fly back home.

“I just like pigeons. It’s a very simple thing for me and I enjoy it,” Jun said. That day he was particularly pleased with his birds’ athletic performance; he released 73 and all of them returned, an outcome that doesn’t always happen.

“There’s kind of a neat tradition to pigeon homing,” said Deone Roberts, who works for the American Racing Pigeon Union, an organization that’s affiliated with hundreds of pigeon clubs across the country.

“The bird’s simply enjoying flying and going home,” she said. “[The pigeon] wants to go home and be with his mate and their offspring. It makes good fun.”

Using pigeons for racing has been around in America since the late 1800s, according to Roberts’ organization. The birds, a common sight in New York City, were also used during WWII to transmit messages across enemy lines.

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French bistro opening off Bell Boulevard


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A new French restaurant is set to open in two months in Bayside, according to a spokesman for one of the two owners .

The location was previously the home of Bentley’s off Bell, a bar and grill that closed earlier this year.

The French bistro started work in March, according to city records, and the awning for Bentley’s still hangs over the location on 39th Avenue. When it opens, it will be the only French restaurant in the neighborhood.

The owners didn’t want to discuss details of the restaurant, so whether or not the menu will include escargot remains to be seen.

 

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Cinco De Mayo moves down Bell Blvd., replaced by Peruvian restaurant


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Hasta luego, Cinco De Mayo; bienvenido, Piura.

Mexican restaurant Cinco De Mayo,  located at 39-32 Bell Blvd., is closing its current location on Bell Boulevard, which used to be home to Italian food store La Bottega, and a Peruvian restaurant called Piura will be moving in.

But fans of the Mexican restaurant will not have to travel far for their “comida.” The eatery is just moving down the Bayside commercial strip to another location at 42-29 Bell Blvd.

The owner of Cinco De Mayo is only doing minor construction to the new location, according to city records. A sign hangs on the new location announcing the move, while the old spot still has a sign for the Mexican restaurant and above it is a new sign for the Peruvian eatery.

Current Cinco De Mayo workers said they will continue to work in the new location and the menu will stay the same. The owners of both the Mexican and Peruvian restaurants could not be reached but several workers in the restaurant expect the move to take place this fall.

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Movie starring Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne begins film preparations in Bayside


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A new movie, “Louder Than Bombs,”  starring Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Huppert and Gabriel Bryne  is expected to begin filming in September in Bayside.

Crew members started moving equipment into the area on Thursday.  A Ryder truck was spotted in front of Anchor Inn on Northern Boulevard where the crew prepared the motel for shooting.

The director of the film is Joachim Trier and according to reports, the movie is set to be  completed and released in 2015.

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Eisenberg is known for his bigger roles in the movies “Social Network” and “Zombieland.” Bryne, the oldest of the trio, starred in many movies including “The Usual Suspects” and “In Treatment.” The French actress Huppert has played in many European movies but was also in “I Heart Huckabees.”

“Louder Than Bombs” is still in the very early stages but according to reports, the plot is about a late war photographer, played by Huppert, whose husband and two sons discover a secret about her past. The secret ends up unravelling the lives of the men into chaos. The movie is being labeled a drama.

The plot of “Louder Than Bombs” doesn’t take place in Queens but the crew plan on using two locations in the area, according to a spokeswoman for the crew. The first is in the inn on Northern Boulevard and the second is at a residential corner on 215th Place and 38th Avenue.

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Obituary: Longtime litigator and Bayside resident William Spanakos


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Longtime litigator and Bayside resident William Spanakos died on Aug. 11 at the age of 86, according to his family, after suffering a major heart attack the day before.

“He liked his work and he continued his job until the last minute,” William’s brother, George, said. “He always tried to help people through his job and in his personal life.”

William was a practicing attorney for over 50 years and had an office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He specialized in criminal defense but also served the Greek immigrant community in legal matters. He was one of seven sons and his parents immigrated from Greece.

He graduated from St. John’s Law School in 1953 and soon after that he opened a law firm in 1956 with his brother John, who died last year.

As a defense lawyer, William always rooted for the underdog, according to George.

“He was known for his charitable works,” his brother said, and in 1990 William established a scholarship fund in honor of his parents that serves to assist financially challenged individuals of Greek descent to become doctors.

William is survived by his girlfriend Sheila Silverstein; his children, Michael Spanakos, Stella Spanakos, Lillian Spanakos, Helen Spanakos-Weitman and Athena Spanakos-O’Riordan; and three brothers, George, Peter and Nick.

 

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Bayside’s ‘unofficial mayor’ to be memorialized in street renaming


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Bayside’s “unofficial mayor” Benjamin Fried will be memorialized next Monday during a street renaming ceremony, according to Councilman Paul Vallone.

For 68 years Fried was a part of Bell Boulevard and now he will be a permanent part of the strip.

Vallone’s spokesman said that Fried, who died at the age of 98 last year, contributed to the healthy mix of commercial and residential areas in the neighborhood.

The city is designating 43rd Avenue and Bell Boulevard — at the corner where Fried kept shop for 68 years until 2001 — as Benjamin Fried Boulevard on Aug. 25.

Fried’s civic life began in 1933 when he opened Benn’s Bargain Store — later renamed to Benn’s Hardware — on Bell Boulevard and he would eventually become active in many parts of Bayside. Along with his hardware store, Fried was also a local activist, according to Vallone’s spokesman. Fried led a succesful rally in the 1970s to reopen fire department engine company 306 on 214th Place.

“Benjamin Fried was affectionately known as the mayor of Bayside and for good reason. His life was spent advocating for Bayside, his community, family and friends,” Vallone said. “Now as we co-name 43rd Avenue as Benjamin Fried Boulevard, we will always keep his memory alive.”

Fried founded the Bell Boulevard Merchants Association and started the annual Children’s Holiday Parade. These all led to his unofficial mayor title, with his hardware business serving as the unofficial city hall.

“The Fried family made sure Bell Boulevard remained a huge commercial shopping destination,” a spokesman for the Bayside Business Improvement District said. “They’re able to perform this balancing act of making it a great commercial destination without overpowering the residential side [of the neighborhood].”

 

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Bayside Little League drops Borough Cup final at Yankee Stadium


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Steven Perez

The Bayside Rebels Little League team came up short of standing on top of the city, but they will have a summer vacation story like none other to tell their schoolmates.

The Rebels suffered a 6-2 defeat in the inaugural 12U Borough Cup Championship at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 14 to the USC Knights. But prior to the game, the team took a tour of Monument Park and learned about baseball legends.

Then they met with and received autographs from famous sports figures, including former Yankees infielder Willie Randolph, former Mets pitcher John Franco and Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia.

Photo courtesy Steven Perez

Photo courtesy of Steven Perez

After the pre-game activities, the Rebels had a difficult time against the Knights.

They allowed three runs in the first inning and one more in the second. It was enough to knock out Bayside, which struggled at the plate during the game.

The Rebels had just four hits, two of which came from Nicholas Perez, who also scored the first run for the team in the fourth inning.

John Callahan scored another run for the Rebels in the fourth inning, but it was all the offense the Bayside team would get. The Knights meanwhile added two more insurance runs in the fifth and seventh innings to win the game.

 

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Bayside Rebels Little League team heading to Borough Cup


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Yankee Stadium here we come!

BENJAMIN FANG

The Bayside Rebels are back and better than ever.

After an administrative error left the Little League baseball team out of the sectional tournament, the 12-year-olds are now headed to the Borough Cup championship game on Aug. 14 at Yankee Stadium.

They will face the USC Knights of Kingsbridge in a matchup pitting Queens against the Bronx.

Bayside’s road to the finals was paved with success. The Rebels dominated all five tournament games, outscoring opponents 41 to two.

The Rebels blanked three straight Queens teams to advance to the city playoffs. They beat the Forest Hill Bombers 7-0, defeated the NY Nationals 7-0 and trounced the Queens Braves 12-0.

In the next round, Bayside handed the Bronx’s TM Select team a 9-1 loss, leading them to the semifinal game against Staten Island’s Mid-Island Royals. On Sunday, the Queens champions easily beat the Royals 6-1, moving on to the championship game.

Now they will face a formidable foe in the USC Knights, which have also overpowered its competitors. The Bronx team has scored 55 runs throughout the Borough Cup tournament while only surrendering four.

This is the inaugural Borough Cup tournament, created by Mets Hall of Fame pitcher John Franco, WFAN sports radio personality Craig Carton and Brooklyn Cyclones assistant general manager Gary Perone.

 

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College Point tattoo shop hopes to make an indelible mark in Bayside


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

A College Point tattoo shop is packing up, needles and ink in tow, and moving to Bayside to add a little color to Bell Boulevard.

Mean Streets Tattoo first opened in 1999 and is owned by Tommy Murphy, who is also one of the store’s main tattoo artists.

But in recent years, “College Point is not what it used to be,” Murphy said. “We just wanted to go to a neighborhood that’s more upscale and local.”

Murphy, who is from Whitestone, cited the opening of corporate stores in recent years like the Target as a contributing factor to the decline in business for his tattoo shop.

“All the local stores are starting to feel the pressure,” he said.

Along with his partner and daughter, both of whom work as tattoo artists, Murphy plans on opening his new shop on Sept. 1, leaving behind their original location.

The new Bell Boulevard site used to belong to a gift shop, Top Drawer, before it closed down earlier this year, according to neighboring businesses and city records.

According to the Times Ledger, Top Drawer was in business for 35 years and owners Jeffrey and Karen Serin decided to close shop for good after their lease expired. Renovations have just started but Murphy is excited for the new business and being in Bayside.

“Bell Boulevard is an amazing thing and it has a really strong small business atmosphere and we’re looking forward to being part of that,” he said.

 

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Free Mets tickets for blood donors


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

BENJAMIN FANG

Bayside Assemblyman Edward Braunstein is hosting a blood drive on Thursday, Aug. 14 from 4 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bay Terrace Shopping Center on 212th Street and 26th Avenue.

“Every donation helps to save up to three lives,” Braunstein said. “Our hospitals are in need of your help, so I hope you will take the time to share this lifesaving gift.”

Each donor will receive two Mets tickets by mail, thanks to the New York Blood Center.

To be eligible, donors have to be between the ages of 16 and 75, weigh at least 110 pounds and not have any new tattoos within the last year.

Donors are asked to drink fluids before arriving and to bring photo ID.

For more information, contact Braunstein’s office at 718-357-3588.

 

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Young Queens residents represent borough in Rubik’s Cube competition


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Christopher Chi

BENJAMIN FANG

These cubers are quickly gaining speed.

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

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

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

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

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

Brandon Lin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric Zhao

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Samuel Fang

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Health Department to treat areas of Queens against West Nile this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, Aug. 6 there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 7 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Bayside, Douglaston, Hollis Hill, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens (Bordered by Long Island Rail Road Track to the north; 219th Street and Springfield Boulevard to the west; Long Island Expressway to the south and Douglaston Parkway to the east)

Parts of Blissville, Sunnyside and west Maspeth (Bordered by Green Point Avenue and 48th Avenue to the north; Van Dam Street to the west; Newtown Creek (Queens-King County Boundary) to the South; 49th Street, 56th Road, 50th Street, Queens Midtown Expressway and 49th Street to the East

Parts of Kew Gardens, Briarwood and Jamaica (Bordered by Grand Central Parkway and Jackie Robinson Parkway to north; Metropolitan Avenue and 118th Street to the west; Long Island Rail Road and Archer Avenue to the south; 14th Place, Jamaica Avenue, 144th Street, 87th Avenue and 150th Street to the east)

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

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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Queensborough Community College receives grant money for new health center


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File photo

Queensborough Community College received $11.5 million from a state grant that aims to provide seed money to CUNY schools pursuing educational projects, according to CUNY.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the winner of the CUNY 2020 grant last week as part of a larger 2013-14 executive budget of $110 million to fund tech and health projects in state and city schools. Queensborough has two such projects that received money from the grant. $10 million will go to building a 19,000-square-foot healthcare center in northern Queens, according to the school, where students will work with patients in the community with health problems.

The remaining $1.5 million will go to renovating and equipping a 3-D printing site in the school. The college computer science department plans on creating new courses that will help students, including those from some local high schools, learn to use the printers.

“The $11.5 million dollar award places us as a vanguard to serve two vital industry sectors: technology and healthcare,” Queensborough President Diane B. Call said. “I am extremely proud that Queensborough Community College has been selected for our innovative ideas and leadership to provide current and prospective students the education to pursue promising careers.”

Cuomo appropriated $55 million as part of the 2013-14 State Budget for NY CUNY 2020. The program offers grants for two- and four-year colleges within the CUNY system.

 

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Fiamma 41: Old-world cooking in great new spot


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

DSC_0093

CHRIS BUMBACA

Recipes from a generation ago that originated in southern Italy have crossed the Atlantic and are now being recreated in Fiamma 41, an Italian restaurant located on 41st Avenue just off of Bell Boulevard.

Owners Alex and John Bonavita have adopted their mother’s recipes, which she learned before moving to America, and use them to create a variety of delicious dishes. The recipes are also from the time she spent in Rome and Florence.

The brick exterior and interior gives off a classy and old-fashioned feel, while the modern bar serves as a potentially popular hangout spot, with several televisions in the joint. Portraits of famous actresses from back in the day, such as Marilyn Monroe, hang on the wall.

Fiamma 41’s staple dish is the Napolitano pizza. It is an artisan-style personal pizza, 12 inches in diameter, and a great dish to share with another person (or for one if you’re extra hungry like I was). The pizza is made in a Valoriani oven from Tuscany that can reach 1,000 degrees, and is made of terracotta. Fiamma is Italian for “fire” and the restaurant does not use gas to cook their pizza.

The salsiccia e broccoli rabe pizza was delicious. It is a white pizza served with spicy Italian sausage, fresh mozzarella and — the best part of the dish — the perfectly bitter broccoli rabe. The crust was even enjoyable, and you could tell the dough was fresh.

Not in the mood for pizza? No worries. The menu also features awesome pasta and seafood options. The linguine frutti di mare is an eclectic seafood dish that was delightful. The dish includes linguine pasta served with marinara sauce, along with mussels, clams and shrimp. The marinara sauce had the perfect touch of garlic, while the mussels and clams were well-cooked and scrumptious. The shrimp bits were bite-size and juicy.

If you still have room for dessert, the tiramisu is on point. The homemade recipe is complemented perfectly by a drizzling of chocolate and sugar.

Whether you are looking for a place to grab a few drinks with friends, go on a date or dip out of the office for an enjoyable lunch, Fiamma 41 is definitely the place to be.

Fiamma 41
214-26 41st Ave., Bayside
718-225-5700

Hours:
Monday: closed
Tuesday – Thursday: 12 – 10 p.m.
Friday: 12 – 11 p.m.
Saturday: 12 – 11 p.m.
Sunday: 12 – 10 p.m.

 

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