Tag Archives: Bell Boulevard

Bayside electronics store not closing – just improving


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Bayside residents recently took to social media to bemoan the loss of an electronic store on Bell Boulevard, saying it marked the end of an era filled with 45 RPM records and the British Invasion. But the store isn’t closing — it’s just adding a modern repair shop.

“We’ve been here since 1946 and we’re not going anywhere,” said Jay Hildebrand, the owner of S&L Electronics. “We love Bayside. Why would we leave?”

Jimmy James, a Bayside resident, recently posted on a Bayside Facebook group that the store was closing. Fans of the store commiserated over the sad news

“So sad…I bought all my 45s there. They had the top 40 laid out in order every week in these little cubby holes,” resident Denise Marie Coyle wrote.

Many wrote their recollections of the store’s workers fixing their record players and VHS players. Hildebrand wants to modernize the store’s ability to fix electronics by making the jump from cassette players to iPads.

“I don’t know how to fix any of these new gadgets,” he said. “So we’re renting out part of our space to an electronic repair shop.”

These days, the majority of customers that come into the store with broken electronics have digital gadgets, but Hildebrand has had to turn them away. Soon, though, he won’t have to.

Hildebrand expects the construction of a small shop in the front of the store to take about two weeks to complete.

In the summer, Hildebrand makes most of his money from air conditioner installations, and the store also serves as a thrift shop. Hildebrand’s eclectic business interests are reflected through the store’s messiness. He wants to take the opportunity of the repair shop construction to do some minor renovations and cleaning up.

“A lot of people gather all this stuff and then at the end of the life they look at it all and they don’t know what to do with it,” he said, with three jackets from the Korean War hanging on a pole behind him.

People often come in, Hildebrand said, wanting to sell their parents’ and grandparents’ belongings. And so the store has collected more than just electronic items.

As the new repair shop goes up, the business is still open, even if it looks like the store is closed.

“People ask me why don’t I retire,” Hildebrand said. “But that’s not fun.”

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New Bayside Colombian restaurant is instant hit


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Chicken lovers flocked to Mr. Pollo #1 on Friday to try the new Colombian restaurant on Bayside‘s Bell Boulevard.

The eatery was even busier on Thursday, opening day, according to workers.

“They say it usually takes two years before a business becomes profitable, but I don’t think we’ll need to wait that long here,” the manager said as he rushed to answer ringing phones.

The pork loin lunch special

The restaurant’s opening is the latest in a South American food invasion on Bell Boulevard, with a new Peruvian restaurant, Piura, set to open and the Mexican restaurant Cinco de Mayo reopening further down the commercial strip.

The store was packed for the second day in a row. A steady stream of people ordered take-out on Friday afternoon, while others chose to eat inside the eatery. Two delivery boys tried to stay ahead of the lunch rush, while workers ran around like hens without their heads.

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The new business on Bell Boulevard claims to be the first Colombian restaurant in Bayside.

There is also a Mr. Pollo #2, owned by the same people, in Whitestone, according to the menu.

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Bayside’s small businesses tell film industry to take five


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/GreggSullivan

Call it Hollywood fatigue.

The Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID) wants the city to put a temporary stop on granting filming permits to movie and show makers using Bayside as a shooting location.

The organization, representing dozens of small businesses, plans on sending a letter to the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting to request a moratorium on filming in commercial areas like Bell Boulevard, according to the organization’s executive director, Lyle Sclair.

“Filming in Bayside is a balancing act, but too often it’s swayed away from us,” Sclair said.  “There’s a much better way to work together.”

Citing a marked loss of business because of frequent filming activity in the area, Sclair said that small businesses need more representation in government.

The FX-produced show “The Americans” used Bayside to film several scenes in January. During filming, Harry Rutgers’ jewelry business was penned in on 41st Avenue and Bell Boulevard.

“We might as well be closed when the film crews are here,” said Rutgers, who is the owner of Bell Family Jewelers. “The whole business district shuts down and everybody suffers while one [group] benefits.”

Rutgers cited many of the same problems that Sclair will bring up to the city. The vehicles used to transport the film crews and equipment are big and bulky, and these vehicles take up all the parking spots on Bell Boulevard that would be used by potential customers.

Rutgers said that another problem is that the crews don’t spend any money in the area because they come with their own food and services.

“They don’t spend a nickel on Bell,” Rutgers said. “I never heard anyone say they benefited from the film crews.”

Rutgers suggested that the trucks and trailers used by the film industry should park away from Bell Boulevard so they don’t take up parking. He also said that if the crews spent money in the area, business owners would be more willing to tolerate the film industry.

Sclair plans on making all of these suggestions when he sends the letter to the Mayor’s office. He is also urging the City Council to pass oversight bills.

Councilman Paul Vallone is signing the letter, according to his spokesman.

“I firmly support the Bayside Village BID’s request for a moratorium on filming on Bell Boulevard and the surrounding avenues, as the area is rapidly becoming a filming hot spot,” he said. “Our residents and small business owners should not have to bear the burdens that come with excessive filming, especially in an area that already has very limited parking space availability. It’s unfair for our small businesses to suffer these consequences.”

Film crews park trailers and trucks in front of businesses and take up many parking spots, causing the merchants to lose money, according to Sclair. The large vehicles also cause people to think that businesses are closed.

Bayside is frequently used for movie and television shoots, reflecting the city’s initiative to make New York City a filming center.

The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment but, according to the city-run “Made in NY” site, the city “looks to support film and television productions of all shapes and sizes, and we look to make each and every one of those projects a clear, seamless, and enjoyable production experience.”

In the city’s haste to make the five boroughs film-friendly, it’s alienated small businesses, Sclair said.

“It seems like the city is saying, ‘We’re choosing the film industry over mom-and-pop businesses,” he said.

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Bayside small businesses praised by feds


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the borough president's office

With more small businesses than big box stores on Bell Boulevard, the commercial strip was the perfect destination for the head of the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) when she made the trip to New York last week.

“I’m so excited to be here in Bayside,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of SBA. “Unlike many other places, Bell Boulevard has such a high concentration of small businesses and I want to keep this area thriving.”

Contreras-Sweet, along with Congresswoman Grace Meng, spoke to the owners of Bayside Milk Farm and went behind the food market’s deli to try out some of the food.

During the trip, Contreras-Sweet urged business owners to use the free resources that SBA provides. Many new initiatives, Contreras-Sweet said, are meant to help small businesses modernize their tools.

Small businesses can get technical assistance through a program called Operation HOPE. Entrepreneurs can also get loans and business counseling through SBA’s Direct Resource Packet, which brings together information about lenders and counselors in one document online.

“Thank you for your voice and thank you for all the great work you’re doing,” Meng said to Contreras-Sweet.

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Retail and office buildings on Bell Boulevard sell for $7.6 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Massey Knakal

Two sections of the Bell Boulevard commercial corridor in Bayside are under new management.

A retail strip with some office space on Bell Boulevard in Bayside traded hands for about $5.6 million, according to Massey Knakal Realty Services, which handled the transaction.

LCDM Investors LLC sold the property, which stretches from 43-19 to 43-23 Bell Blvd. The buildings have nearly 13,000 square feet of space, but 22,000 square feet of buildable space, the realty firm said.

Additionally, a two-story building a few blocks away at 39-26 Bell Blvd. was sold for $2 million. The building is fully leased with tenants, including longtime pizza restaurant Pete’s.

39-26 Bell Blvd.

39-26 Bell Blvd.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

IDENTIFY

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Northern Boulevard at Bell Boulevard in Bayside 

IDENTIFY-624x511

Bayside Medical Arts Center on sale for $9 million


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Massey Knakal 

The Bayside Medical Arts Center, anchored by a division of North Shore-LIJ for decades, has been listed for $9 million.

A member of the family firm C.B.R., LLC, which owns the building at 23-19 Bell Blvd. in Bay Terrace, plans to retire and another family member no longer wants to manage the building, according to Stephen Preuss of Massey Knakal, who is marketing the property.

Preuss added that the approximately 15,000-square-foot property would be a great investment as the offices are well-attended by many patients, the building is in great condition and the “tenancy is extremely strong.”

There are 12 units throughout the building and only one vacancy. There are also 20 parking spaces for patients and staff.

Other tenants in the building range from dentists to pediatricians and other medical specialists.

The building is located directly across from the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, which is home to large chains such as The Gap, Waldbaum’s, Barnes & Nobles, an AMC Loews Theater and Applebee’s, as well as local brands.

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Vallone allocates $68K for Doe Fund to clean Bayside, College Point


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Councilman Paul Vallone allocated $68,000 to contract The Doe Fund to clean up the streets, according to the councilman’s spokesman.

As part of the 2015 council budget, Vallone was given the money to spend on cleaning initiatives in Bayside and the surrounding neighborhoods within his council district, according to a spokesman for Vallone. And he plans on concentrating cleaning efforts on College Point Boulevard in College Point and Bell Boulevard in Bayside, where The Doe Fund will be charged with power washing the sidewalks, sweeping the sidewalks and replacing trash bins.

“Clean sidewalks and litter-free streets are a big part of our quality of life,” Vallone said. “The money allocated for The Doe Fund will go a long way to beautifying and maintaining College Point Boulevard and Bell Boulevard, two of the most important and widely used commercial strips in my district.“

According to Vallone’s spokesman, College Point Boulevard between 14th and 23rd avenues is in particular need of cleaning because of the stained, blackened sidewalks and the abundance of litter. Another spot that they will be concentrating on is Bell Boulevard between 35th Avenue to 45th Drive.

The Doe Fund’s street cleaning crews, made up of formerly homeless or recently incarcerated men, will start the cleaning job on Oct. 1 and continue until June 30, 2015. According to Vallone’s spokesman, there will be four workers covering the areas three days a week.

The Doe Fund’s presence is now in 10 Council districts in Queens, which is up from six in 2013. The increase in the crew’s services comes after the City Council approved $3.5 million for cleaning initiatives.

Vallone is scheduled to hold a press conference on Monday, Sept. 22, to announce the cleaning initiative with Doe’s founder, George McDonald.

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Little Bay Park body identified as Bayside woman


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

A badly decomposed body that was found in Little Bay Park last month was identified as a 41-year-old Bayside resident, police said.

Caroline Maquinghin went missing in early July from her Bayside apartment, according to neighbors.

Maquinghin lived on Bell Boulevard, close to where her body was found in the Whitestone park on Aug. 5, according to police.

Officials have yet to determine the cause of death but they have ruled out any criminal act causing her death.

Cops said that the body was badly decomposed when it was found by a park employee in a wooded area near 14th Road and Utopia Parkway.

Neighbors of Maquinghin said that she used to jog often and in early July missing posters were put up in the building. The posters said Maquinghin had a history of depression.

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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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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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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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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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New mixed-use residential structure to replace 80-year-old Bayside building


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Longtime Bayside firm Pilling Real Estate closed a big saleits own building.

After more than 30 years in the same Bayside office at 42-18 Bell Blvd., the firm packed up everything Monday, July 28, in preparation to move after owner Betty Pilling sold the building for $1.15 million in May, according to city records.

The new owner, Bell Realty, plans to transform the building, which was built in 1931 according to the Department of City Planning, into a three-story mixed-use residential and commercial structure.

“There is a lot more that you could get out of that land than what we were doing with it,” Pilling said. “It was just time.”

Despite the sale, the owner and brokers of Pilling Real Estate are not leaving Bayside. The company plans to merge with another local firm, yet to be announced.

Frances Lee Pilling founded the realty firm in 1953. She moved the business in 1981 to the building on Bell Boulevard, which was a farmhouse converted to office space, according to the younger Pilling.

The building will expand from two stories to three and will have four residential units, according to the Department of Buildings filings. It will be similar to the relatively new building next door, a four-story mixed-use residential and commercial building, where a new fried chicken restaurant plans to open on the first floor.

“I feel bad, because it was kind of a standout building,” Pilling said. But she added, “[Bell Realty] has wonderful plans. They are an extremely established firm. They are not a fly-by-night builder.”

 

 

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