Tag Archives: Business

Ridgewood residents tackle housing, other matters at forum


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Residents, community leaders and local activists revisited various issues and concerns affecting Ridgewood during the Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association‘s (RTNA) public forum, “Ridgewood: Your Voices, Your Issues,” on Monday at the Ridgewood Library.

“This is a way of starting a conversation and a way to bring together a lot of different people in the neighborhood,” RTNA co-founder and moderator Glenn Dyer said.

The group broke up into four different sections, each representing a specific topic or issue facing Ridgewood: housing, economic development, transportation and the environment.

Paul Kerzner, former Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) president, chaired the housing group. He expounded on his idea of forming tenant co-ops set forth in the first forum back in February, using the analogy of geese flying together in a “V” formation to illustrate the need for Ridgewood’s many tenants to band together in their pursuit of affordable housing.

“Individual tenants in Ridgewood cannot get to their destination by themselves,” he said. “If they fly in formation and work together in a building, they can accomplish their end.”

According to Kerzner’s plan, tenants living in buildings with four to six units could feasibly purchase each unit for roughly $200,000 each, becoming co-owners of the building itself. By qualifying for mortgages and available federal loans, he estimated monthly out-of-pocket costs to be roughly $1,340, much less than the average rent in Ridgewood.

Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), moderated the Local Economy group. Many residents voiced concerns regarding overdevelopment of Ridgewood and the sale of large retail properties to outside brokers and entities.

“We need to preserve Myrtle Avenue for the mom-and-pop shops and smaller entrepreneurs,” Renz said. “Our goal is to have input into getting a better store mix for our community.”

Many residents spoke in favor of a proposed six-to-nine-month moratorium on liquor licenses due to the sharp uptick in bars and nightlife venues in Ridgewood. “It’s oversaturation,” Renz said.

RTNA co-founder Matt Peterson agreed: “There are already a number of bars in Ridgewood. It’s not just a business. It attracts a whole culture.”

John Maier, co-chair of the Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee, led the transportation group. According to Maier, the biggest issue facing local transit is the loss of funding on a federal level.

“Our transportation fund has run out and is operating on a month-to-month basis,” he said. “We need to figure out how to get the money for better service.”

Professor Stephanie Wakefield managed the local environment group. Topics and ideas generated from this group included replacing the trash cans on Fresh Pond Road, community field trips to the Ridgewood Reservoir, poor air quality at the Fresh Pond Road bus depot and the need for additional green spaces in the neighborhood.

“People would really like to find a way to create more green space that is not a playground,” Wakefield said.

CB 5 member Henry Cross proposed holding a legislative forum in which area elected officials could address these topics.

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First charter meeting for Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

City Council Member Peter Koo swears in the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce board of directors last Wednesday. (photo courtesy of Koo's office)

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce continued its growth on the afternoon of March 18 with its first membership meeting that attracted numerous civic and business leaders.

The chamber’s first formal task was to elect a board of directors to oversee the organization’s operation under the stewardship of co-chairs Simon Gerson and Chris Kui. The organization also appointed a council of advisers and approved its corporate bylaws and agenda for the months ahead.

“The Flushing Chamber is proud to provide leadership to ensure the continued prosperity of our community,” Gerson said. “Our local businesses will benefit from the networking, education and advocacy opportunities that the chamber provides.”

Greater Flushing looks to replace the void that the 80-year-old Flushing Chamber of Commerce left when it dissolved in 2012. Many blamed the group’s inability to change with the times and neighborhood’s demographics as key factors resulting in its demise.

But Greater Flushing Executive Director John Choe said the upstart group aims to create a “multicultural and modern” organization catering to all businesses and people in Flushing from every background. Greater Flushing already has about 70 businesses as members, and Choe hopes that number will double in the next few months.

“I think Flushing deserves a chamber that will advocate on behalf of the entire community,” he said. “We haven’t had a chamber for a long time, even though we’re the fourth-largest commercial district in the city.”

Greater Flushing already has a “very full plate” of programs aiming to serve and enrich businesses, residents and visitors alike, Choe added, including a free English language program in partnership with Monroe College. The chamber also wants to sponsor several street fairs this summer and launch free financial literacy programs.

The chamber is also considering creating a “formal lending circle” with established credit agencies, Choe noted. Traditional lending circles often practiced among immigrant families involve members donating funds into a central account, with the lump sum then provided to someone launching a business or buying a home, among other purposes.

The formal circle, Choe said, would follow regulations and ensure accountability with the borrowers.

City Councilman Peter Koo had the honor of installing the newly-elected board of directors and threw his support to the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, saying the group would provide “small business owners with the resources they need to expand and grow.”

“We are still living in a climate of over-regulation that remains challenging for many small business owners, so the Flushing Chamber will be a welcomed addition to our diverse business community,” Koo said.

Greater Flushing’s board of directors consists of Gerson, Kui and Don Capalbi of the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association, Perka Chan of HealthFirst, Michael Cheng of Epos Global Management, Taehoon Kim of Regen Acupuncture, Ellen Kodadek of Flushing Town Hall, Michael Lam of Century Homes Realty Group LLC, Alice Lee of HealthPlus Amerigroup, Alfred Rankins of the Latimer House Museum, Maureen Regan of Green Earth Urban Gardens and Leo Zhang of the law firm of Geng & Zhang.

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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.

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City’s closure of Flushing overpass causes businesses to suffer


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

The city’s extended closure of an overpass bridge in Flushing is set to end by 2016, according to a Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman. But the long wait could continue to hurt local business owners.

LIRR train tracks cut through 149th Street, with an overpass bridge connecting the two sides of the street. The bridge has been closed since 2009, according to residents and business owners in the area.

According to a DOT spokesman, a new bridge was ready to open in 2012, but during a final inspection the department found cracks in the foundation, leading the department to keep the bridge closed.

The lack of a bridge in the area left several businesses on 41st Avenue disconnected from the other side. Traffic withered away as a result, business owners said, and led to a noticeable reduction in customers visiting the stores on 41st Avenue, near the 149th Street overpass bridge.

“I’m lucky if I get half the customers I used to get before the bridge closed,” said Kyung Yoon, who owns a deli on 41st Avenue. “It’s not good for business. We pay taxes, don’t we? So why are they taking so long to open it again?”

Yoon points out that there are other overpass bridges in the area but for most people they’re inconvenient to use.

The city’s spokesman said that the bridge will remain closed for public safety. He said they continue to meet with local stakeholders and they will continue to provide updates to the community as they work to “reopen this important connection.”

The spokesman pointed out that the city opened the bridge to foot traffic in response to the community’s needs.

While pedestrians can still use the bridge, the area has become a hang out spot for people who want to drink alcohol, residents said. And, for this reason, resident Karina Hernandez said she barely ever comes to the deli’s side of the tracks.

Karina Hernandez lives on the other side of the tracks and she often goes to Northern Boulevard instead because if she drives it’s too inconvenient to use one of the working overpass bridges. And if she walks, the people who hang out on the bridge deter her from making the journey.

“It’s so ridiculous that it’s been closed for this long,” she said. “I used to come to these places all the time. But now, I barely ever make it unless it’s during the day and I’m not driving.”

Along with Yoon’s deli, there is also a pharmacy-café, a Chinese restaurant and a Korean restaurant. The workers at the pharmacy-café and the Korean restaurant also noted that business hasn’t been as good over the last five years because of the closed overpass bridge.

The city plans on completing a final design in 2014. And in the fall of 2015 the spokesman expects a construction contract to be hashed out. The new overpass bridge should be completed within six months after that.

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Cambria Heights high school scholar set to graduate in three years


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rosmary Reyes

Follow me @liamlaguerre

While most high school students are happy to leave school when the bell rings, Rosmary Reyes takes extra classes, which sometimes keep her as late as 6 p.m.

Now that extra time is about to pay off.

Reyes, a student at Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School in Cambria Heights, is set to graduate after just three years.

“I feel like as soon as I get out of high school, I can get into the real world and closer to my dream of being a lawyer,” Reyes said. “The faster the better.”

Reyes, 16, maintains a 91 percent average in school, is a member of Arista, the National Honor Society, and is in the running to be her school’s valedictorian or salutatorian. She speaks fluent Spanish, and also knows American Sign Language, which Reyes learned so she could communicate with her deaf cousins.

Besides her academics, Reyes participates in a great deal of extracurricular activities and volunteer work.

She is president of the school’s student government, editor of the yearbook, a member of the journalism and the recycling clubs, and she also tutors students who need help in specific subjects. Reyes volunteers at the annual high school fair for eighth-graders and the college fair.

Outside school, Reyes is a New York Cares team leader and has volunteered to help many causes, including working in a soup kitchen and taking part in a coat drive for a senior citizens home.

“It’s not just for academic achievement or looking better for my resume,” Reyes said. “I like [volunteering] because I want to do it. I like helping people and being in leadership roles.”

Even before high school, Reyes was an exceptional student. She received student of the month and student of the year awards from M.S. 61. Reyes pushes herself to do more, because of her philosophy to stay motivated.

“When you are tired and just want to give up, you should just stop for a moment and imagine what you can achieve if you try just a little bit more,” Reyes said.

But her ideals aside, Reyes recognized that she wouldn’t have been able to achieve all of her accomplishments without her family as a backbone of support.

“[I] give thanks to my parents for always giving me the resources I need, and my sister for always giving me the push I need to achieve my goals.”

Reyes is now waiting to hear from St. John’s University, where she plans to continue her education. She then wants to go to law school to become a civil litigator or human rights lawyer.

“I always found a true passion in it,” Reyes said. “The thing I like about lawyers is that they get to help people who may not be able to help themselves.”

 

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Community concerned about crowded Cambria Heights’ Campus Magnet High School


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Parents and students worry that adding another school to Cambria Heights’ Campus Magnet High School could crowd artistic minds.

The high school is home to four separate schools, all geared towards enhancing students’ artistic and professional ambitions. There is the Humanities and Arts Magnet High School; Law-Government High School; Business, Computer Applications and Entrepreneurship (BCAE) High School and a Mathematics, Science, Research and Technology High School.

“It can get crowded in there,” said one sophomore student. “Sometimes it’s hard to walk through the halls.”

Each school has a population of roughly 400, said Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Queens representative on the Department of Education (DOE) Panel for Educational Policy. This coming fall, BCAE and Law-Government will start to be phased out, and a fifth school will be added to the building. However, proposals for a sixth school to be added September 2014 has the community concerned about crowding.

The Panel for Educational Policy was set to vote on the addition of a sixth school in their June meeting, but tabled the matter until October.

Parents are reportedly attempting to block the plan to put in a new school and Fedkowskyj said groups at Campus Magnet proposed ideas to instead increase enrollment in the existing schools.

“It’s something the building desired and the counsel could work with,” he said.

The increased-enrollment proposal could theoretically give schools more opportunities to offer more programs for its students and also eliminate the administration fee of adding another principal and teachers to run another school.

“Adding another school and another administration is a lot of work,” Fedkowskyj said. “Principals have enough on their plate to deal with educational matters, they don’t need to deal with programming matters, too.”

“I guess it’s hard to say what [the DOE] will do,” he added. “The engagement they’ll make with the community will hopefully benefit the community and give them what they want.”

 

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DOE: Students can transfer out of failing schools


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Students in failing city schools will be allowed to transfer, the Department of Education said.

The city is in the process of phasing out 39 struggling schools. The Panel for Educational Policy will vote in March on whether to phase out another 22, including three in Queens.

The transfer option will give students a chance to succeed at better schools. This is the first year all students at phase-out schools have been given the choice.

“We believe in providing good school choices for all students and families, and this new transfer option will enable families in low performing schools to gain access to higher performing ones across the city,” said DOE spokesperson Devon Puglia.

Transfer applications with a list of high-ranking schools will be sent to about 16,000 eligible students in March, the department said. Priority will be given to students with the lowest scores and “greatest need.”

Students who are granted the transfer would be able to start at their new school in September.

The three Queens schools proposed for phase out this year are P.S. 140 in Jamaica; Law, Government and Community Service High School in Jamaica; and the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School in St. Albans.

P.S. 156 in Laurelton faces a possible truncation, which will eliminate its middle school.

One grade would be eliminated at a time from the troubled schools under the phase-out process.

 

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Queens schools may be phased out


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

For months, the Department of Education (DOE) had been evaluating city schools’ progress reports, noting those that were in danger of closing. The process is continuing, and now several Queens schools could possibly be phased out.

This process, which eliminates one grade at a time from the troubled schools, will be finalized after a vote this coming March. Public School 140 in Jamaica; Law, Government and Community Service High School in Jamaica; and the Business, Computer Applications & Entrepreneurship High School in St. Albans are all on the chopping block. P.S. 156 in Laurelton faces a possible truncation, which will eliminate its middle school.

“We expect success,” said DOE Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg. “Ultimately, we know we can better serve our students and families with new options and a new start.”

However, the community is not taking the news lying down.

“I will continue to press the administration to keep these schools open,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie. “Many people at these schools work extremely hard to give their students the best education possible, but the city makes their jobs much harder by not allocating the proper resources and ignoring community input.”

Sternberg countered this claim, saying that the DOE has listened to the community and provided support services to the low-performing schools based on their needs, but it is time to take action.

However, Comrie said the city standards used to measure schools are “confusing, arbitrary, and hindering, rather than helping, to improve the education system.”

The Law, Government and Community Service High School in particular was one school with a good reputation, and according to Comrie, was asked by the DOE to take in more students. However, while they took in the additional students, they were not given the extra resources needed to accommodate them.

Citywide, 22 schools are facing phase-outs, two are looking at possible closure, and two more could be truncated.

Previously, J.H.S. 008, I.S. 059 and Flushing High School faced closure, but have since passed the DOE standards and will remain open.

“We expect every school to deliver for our students, and are working hard to offer families more high performing choices,” said Sternberg.
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Op-Ed: Western Queens business growth fuels our economy


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY SENATOR MIKE GIANARIS

Western Queens is home to a growing number of large and small businesses that have aided in our neighborhood’s economic recovery. I am proud to be an advocate for job creation in western Queens, whose diversity makes us one of the most welcoming neighborhoods in the country, as well as a hub for economic development.

Our community is an example of the kind of responsible development that allows large corporations and small businesses to thrive off each other. Partnering with local Business Improvement Districts, the Queens Chamber of Commerce and my fellow elected officials to draw more businesses and jobs to the neighborhood, in recent years we saw the arrival of major organizations like jetBlue, the New York City Department of Health and the CUNY Law School.

Coupled with the opening of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and the renovated Museum of the Moving Image, these projects have increased the number of jobs available to western Queens residents, while causing more people to come to our neighborhood every day and frequent our local businesses. As the effort to create more jobs continues, I will make sure our additional infrastructure keeps pace with the overall growth of the neighborhood.

Thanks to the state’s film tax credit I championed, the film industry has been an economic success story in an otherwise difficult economy. Western Queens is home to three major film production companies, Silvercup Studios, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Broadway Stages, which produce the bulk of New York City’s film and television projects. In New York City alone, more than 100,000 New Yorkers are employed each year to work on an average of 200 films and more than 100 television shows.

Local businesses also benefit from the additional customers working on the many nearby film projects. Last year, the film industry generated $6.9 billion in economic activity across the state and brought 30,000 new jobs to New York City— a huge number for an industry that employs 130,000 people overall.

One of the most exciting new elements of our neighborhood is its growing tech culture. I have been deeply involved in developing that industry to ensure it improves our neighborhood, maintains our quality of life and responsibly adds to western Queens’ growing reputation as a hub for tech-based businesses and entrepreneurs. The construction of the Cornell-Technion Applied Sciences campus on Roosevelt Island, as well as the tech-based Coalition for Queens and the new Factory of the Future, owned by the world’s largest 3-D printing company, will enhance western Queens’ tech environment, bringing more industry experts, businesses and jobs to the neighborhood and establishing western Queens as the next Silicon Valley.

The boom in business development occurring in western Queens has helped us weather the recession and made our neighborhood a destination for residents and visitors alike. I believe western Queens is a model of the kind of community whose residents, small businesses and large corporations work together to fuel our economy while enhancing our quality of life.

Michael Gianaris represents the 12th Senate District, which includes Astoria, Woodside, Sunnyside, LIC and parts of Ridgewood and Maspeth.

Business owners get help after Sandy


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

With some of their shops damaged or destroyed by Superstorm Sandy and unsure where to go for help, business owners were finally able to find out what options are available to them.

Several agencies set up camp at Resorts World New York City on Friday, November 16 to help owners of south Queens get the money they need to reopen. They included New York Business Solutions, the Department of Labor, and the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) also had a table at the forum and had a list of relief options available to proprietors. Mark Randle, a public information officer for the SBA, said that there were several loan options available at rates as low as 1.69 percent with repayment periods as long as 30 years.

Randle encouraged those who lost some or most of their business to apply. Business owners become eligible for more grants by applying for an SBA loan, he said.

“I can’t urge you strongly enough to go through the process and apply,” he said.

And while many shops and businesses were damaged by Sandy, others may have suffered only economic damage because power had been shut off. SBA has working capital loans for business owners to accommodate these needs.

The deadline to apply to these SBA loans is 60 days after the storm struck the area.

Nicola Campbell, who opened her restaurant, Chef Mom Grill & Bakery in the Rockaways less than a year ago, had a significant amount of damage because of the storm. A wall in the eatery was severely damaged, Campbell said, and most of the equipment in the restaurant had been destroyed.

The single mom of three said she didn’t have flood insurance, only general liability insurance on the restaurant. Because she had been open for less than a year, she thought she had few loan alternatives. But after sitting down with an SBA representative, Campbell had a few options to get her business back up and running.

“As soon as I get home, I will be on top of this because I really do need it,” she said. “This is my only income.”

And although there is a long road ahead for many business owners, some were reassured that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Harry Wells, director of CUNY York’s Small Business Development Center and the panel’s moderator, told owners that, while things may seem bad right now, there are possibilities and there is promise down the road.

“I’m not trying to belittle the situation,” he said. “But a lot of the times, there’s gold at the end of the rainbow.”

Businesses struggling to rebuild after Sandy


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTO BY TERENCE CULLEN

Local businesses already struggling in a tough economy are determined to bounce back from Sandy.

Shop owners along Cross Bay Boulevard swept dirt and debris from their stores, pumping water from drenched basements in the days after the storm.

Angelo Gurino, owner of Howard Beach landmark Ragtime, said pre-storm preparation saved his business from significant damage. Sand bags and wood panels kept waves from completely destroying the grocery store.

“We didn’t suffer that much, thank God,” said Gurino.

The store’s basement filled entirely with water, trickling several inches onto the main floor. Gurino said that even though they spent 14 days without electricity, they remained open and tried to help the community as much as possible. Almost $40,000 worth of merchandise spoiled on the shelves.

After the storm, all that was left of Ragtime’s sign were the letters “M” and “E”.

Gurino estimates the repairs will amount to $100,000.

“We need to get those businesses up and running on Cross Bay Boulevard,” said State Senator Joe Addabbo. “They employ many of our local people — they generate revenue for the city and state, and provide the services for the community. It would be in our best interest to get those businesses up and running.”

Jack Friedman, director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said members of the group have been in the areas hardest hit by the storm nearly every day. The lack of electricity has hindered the chamber from conducting through assessments of damage, stranding many businesses in the stage of relief and recovery. Friedman said the next stage is to ensure residents have proper housing and attempt to reopen businesses.

“We don’t want to be a chamber of no commerce,” said Friedman. “We have to keep it as a chamber of commerce down in the Rockaways. This is a vital area to Queens, to New York City, and it could be to the region. This is some of the most valuable beachfront property on the east coast and it’s just been ignored by the city for way too long.”

Harendra Singh, owner of the Water’s Edge Restaurant in Long Island City, said his facility was inundated by nearly six feet of water during Sandy, far more than he predicted.

“I thought maybe three feet or two feet [of water],” said Singh. “We did whatever we could to prepare for everything. We were not expecting this much.”

The restaurant is currently undergoing repairs to fix damaged carpet and flooring, construct a new bar and replace broken equipment, which Singh estimates will cost between $1.5 million and $2 million. To keep business rolling, the restaurant moved all operations to their unscathed second floor. Since the storm, Water’s Edge has hosted two weddings, both of which Singh said went “perfectly.” The restaurateur said he hopes the eatery will be back on its feet by Thanksgiving.

“We are not [only] confident,” said Singh. “We are sure that we’ll be OK.”

– Additional reporting by Terence Cullen

Businesses of south Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

DSC_0509w

Though neighborhoods change, over the years these businesses have been the backbone of the community.

Auction Outlet of Queens

95-04 Liberty Avenue, Ozone Park

718-641-5872

Open since 1968, Auction Outlet of Queens, in Ozone Park, serves the community for all home decorating needs.

Founded and still run by the Leistein family, Auction Outlet sells home hardware goods including handles, countertops and faucets.

“We’re a retail business that started selling paneling and molding. We expanded to doors and home decorating,” said Arlene Kuchcicki, manager and bookkeeper. “We’re the largest selection of tiles in New York as well and I’m not lying. There are so many tiles here.”

They carry all types of tiles from ceramic to marble, along with imported tiles from Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain and Turkey.

“We mostly sell kitchen cabinets and tiles,” she said. “We’re known for our extraordinary prices for cabinets.”

Though they work with many contractors and builders, homeowners make up the larger portion of their business. Auction Outlet has experienced design specialists who are hired to help create any customized kitchen, along with other salespeople who are trained to help with all the details and measurements of any home project.

“We’ve been up and down in the past 10 to 15 years but we’re stable now and plan to expand in business,” said Kuchcicki.

Auction Outlet is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

D&H Autobody

109-14 Atlantic Avenue

South Richmond Hill

718-847-7722

Childhood friends Bruno Loia and Guy Pierno were working at State Farm insurance in 1988 when they decided to buy D&H Autobody.

The autobody was established in 1946 by Don and Harry Ezzo, who ran it until they were in their 70s and Loia and Pierno took over.

The two pals had always worked on cars and to this day keep their love alive by providing the best care they can give. In business now for nearly a quarter of a century, they have brought in many loyal customers. “Basically, we rely on word of mouth,” Loia said. “Some accounts have stuck with us for years. We work for out customers, we represent out customers.

In the shop, there is constant communication between every mechanic or specialist — to ensure each car is worked on with clarity and quality.

“My guys are not under pressure,” he said. “There’s no rush to put a car together. That’s pretty much our formula.”

Lenny’s Clam Bar

161-03 Cross Bay Boulevard

718-845-5100

Joe De Candia, who inherited Lenny’s Clam Bar from his parents, says the well-known establishment on Cross Bay Boulevard tries to keep with original recipes while keeping up with the times.

“It’s passed down through the generations,” said De Cadia.

Established by De Candia’s parents in 1974, Lenny’s has become a standout in the community — and outside of it, too.

Whether you’re a celebrity, waiting for a delayed plane at JFK or just out in the neighborhood, Lenny’s is a hot spot for great clams and great atmosphere. Funny girl and Queens native Fran Drescher, Aldo the Giant and a number of athletes have frequented the Cross Bay clam bar.

“I think it’s location,” said De Candia in reference to what makes Lenny’s so popular. “We’re a landmark here in the area. We give a good meal and we’re reasonably priced.”

While Lenny’s gets a lot of attention from people outside of Howard Beach, De Candia is invested in the community. Having lived in the neighborhood for 49 years, going to school and raising his kids here, he has tried to give back to the area in a number of ways. He has actively taken part in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and organizes an annual walk in Howard Beach to raise money and awareness for the disease.

Molbegott Hardware

109-20 Liberty Avenue

Richmond Hill, N.Y. 11419

718 843-4460

What Molbegott Hardware offers that big-box chains do not is quality assurance and great prices.

This is how second-generation store owner Martin Molbegott describes his shop, which has been serving Richmond Hill since 1926.

Molbegott Hardware was established by Martin’s parents on Liberty Avenue and over time the shop expanded next door. In these two locations, the store not only sells hardware, but home and kitchen appliances and plumbing supplies. Martin has now run the store for more than 60 years, having taken over after his father passed away.

Molbegott said the shop has retained customers because of the care its staff has given to ensure the buyer gets not only the best price, but all the help that’s needed. He said the mission has always been to put the customer first.

“We do a service beyond anyone else,” he said. “We do services no other store in the neighborhood can imagine.”

Part of this service is teaching customers about each item they buy, or any repairs they might be doing. This type of customer care, Molbegott said, is not offered by any of the big-name hardware stores.

“We explain each and every step when we sell something,” he said.

Sapienza’s

164-26 Cross Bay Boulevard

718-323-4011

After a long absence on Cross Bay Boulevard, Sapienza’s is back and the neighborhood couldn’t be happier.

The eatery, located just before the bridge to Broad Channel, is full of customers telling the staff how happy they are that Sapienza’s is back in the neighborhood.

Owner Angelo Mugnolo originally ran the delicatessen a little further north on Cross Bay before selling to a new owner in 2009. The new owner, he said, and another owner after that did not have the same success and Mugnolo decided to come back.

After eight months of remodeling the new site, Mugnolo and co-owner Anthony Calore reopened Sapienza’s on September 24 and the neighborhood can’t be happier.

The two have years of experience with the neighborhood and food.

While the owners tout that a customer can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner for an entire week and never get the same thing, it may not be what they’re most famous for. Sapienza sells around 2,500 pounds of pastrami a week and goes by the motto, “The Best Pastrami in Queens.” The mouth watering pastrami is a favorite amongst the diners who come in during lunchtime and tell the owners how happy they are that Sapienza’s is back.

Schmidt’s Candy

94-15 Jamaica Avenue, Woodhaven

718-846-9326

Though much of Woodhaven has changed since the mid-1920s when it opened up, Schmidt’s Candy is a step back into the era of wooden rails on the el train.

With tiling and candy cases nearly 100 years old, the store, as current shop owner Margie Schmidt says, is a step back in time.

Most of the candy is baked right in the shop, Schmidt said, and most of the recipes came from Germany with her grandfather, who founded the store. Margie still makes her caramel on a marble table in the basement of the small shop, still quietly tucked under the elevated rails of the “J” train on Jamaica Avenue. In the back of the store, she bakes her chocolate.

Because of the need to make all the traditional sweets, Schmidt’s is closed during July and August. On a recent fall day, Margie described the “cool, crisp, dry weather” as the ideal baking conditions.

Today the shop’s biggest times are seasonal and holidays. But as regulars come in for their Easter, Halloween or Christmas candy, Margie says she always reminds them the shop is open.

To the best of Margie’s knowledge, she is the last candy shop in the borough where the sweet, heavenly chocolate is made right in the store.

“I think I can say I’m the only homemade candy store in Queens,” she said.

Villa Russo

118-16 101st Avenue, Richmond Hill

718-849-0990

Villa Russo, located at 118-16 101st Avenue, Richmond Hill, is a catering establishment that was first started in 1954 and hosts wedding receptions, birthdays, anniversaries, engagement parties, showers, christening celebrations, Communion celebrations, reunions and other festivities.

Featuring Italian dining, the location itself offers three different rooms in which to accommodate events. The Palace, as its title suggests, is very elegant with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and balconies spanning overhead. It can seat up to 275 guests. Then there is the Grotto, which is a little cozier and seats up to 175. The Party Room, seating up to 65, is a narrower dining hall complemented by long tables, archways and a stone floor. On top of the three rooms, Villa Russo will also come to you with its outside catering service. Each option comes with a variety of menu choices, the details for which can be found at villarussocatering.com.

Business is backbone of Bayside community


| SKakar@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Sweetina Kakar
Though neighborhoods change, over the years these businesses have been the backbone of the community.

THE COURIER/Photos by Sweetina Kakar

VIPizza

43-02 Bell Boulevard

718-229-9311

This Bayside-based pizzeria has been located in the neighborhood on the same corner of 43rd Street and Bell Boulevard for over 50 years. Known for its upside down and buffalo slice, along with great customer service and spacious dining area, VIPizza seems to be famous not just in the Bayside area but as far as upstate New York. The dough is made daily on the premises and pies are prepared with ripe tomatoes and the finest cheese.

 

Dental & Facial Wellness

35-34 Bell Boulevard

718-229-3232

Dental & Facial Wellness is one of the few cosmetic dental practices in the Queens and Long Island area that provides choices of multiple treatment plans for an incredible cosmetic dental makeover. They specialize in a variety of different dental procedures such as laser dentistry, implants and bite adjustments with the best of proven technologies and materials.

 

THE COURIER/Photos by Sweetina Kakar

Durso’s Pasta & Ravioli Company

189-01 Crocheron Avenue

718-358-1311

This family-owned company has been located in the Bayside neighborhood for more than 40 years, serving great Italian food. Durso’s specializes in homemade pasta, ravioli, gourmet prepared foods, Italian specialties and fresh meats and sausages, ready to take home for a great meal. They also make sandwiches, panini and salads to order for lunch, along with off-base catering in all New York boroughs. This corner shop is an authentic Italian restaurant and grocery, all in one, in a convenient Queens location. The Queens store features more than 50 varieties of fresh pasta and ravioli products including stuffed shells, manicotti and over a dozen homemade sauces made in-store daily.

 

THE COURIER/Photos by Sweetina Kakar

Keil Bros Garden Center & Nursery

210-11 48th Avenue

718-224-2020

Keil Bros Garden Center & Nursery has been serving the New York community for over 80 years, supplying affordable gardening supplies and nursery stocks for trees and shrubs. This Bayside-based company carries one of the largest selections of gardening supplies in Queens. The greenhouse stocks holiday and seasonal plants, along with the largest selection of pots, pottery, baskets, fertilizer and hand tools for every plant lover’s shopping list. They are experts in landscaping, not just for large companies but local homes as well.

 

Cohen’s Fashion Optical

211-51 26th Avenue

718-631-3699

This retail eyewear business was started over 80 years ago by Jack Cohen in New York City, who sold from a pushcart. He thought eyewear was more than just a necessity to see, but could also be fashionable. Eighty years later, Cohen’s Fashion Optical has grown to more than 100 locations nationwide with approximately 10 in Queens. They specialize in frames, sunglasses, lenses, contact lenses, accessories and professional eye exams. They hire professional and experienced optometrist for the best possible eye care and advice.

 

Central Veterinary Associates

36-43 Bell Boulevard

718-224-4451

This New York-based animal hospital specializes in a unique system of delivering veterinary care with seven animal clinics throughout Nassau and Queens Counties. Their Valley Stream Animal Hospital alliance allows for 24-hour, seven-day-a-week care for emergency and surgical facilities. Central Veterinary Associates is one of the oldest continuous veterinary practices in the region offering veterinary services, internal medicine, diagnostic and therapeutic services, laboratory, pharmacy, preventative medicine and wellbeing.

 

Yvette Lingerie & Corsetiere

40-13 Bell Boulevard

718-229-5724

For over 25 years, Yvette Lingerie & Corsetiere has specialized in the art of fitting women into fine lingerie and corsets. They are dedicated to helping women — young and old, petite to plus — discover exactly how to make them feel comfortable, sexy and confident. Yvette Lingerie & Corsetiere offers the finest lingerie in countless sizes and styles, and in popular brand names, and provides the most intricate, custom fittings.

 

Corbin Family Dental Arts

204-17 35th Avenue

347-338-1465

www.corbindental.com

The Corbin Family Dental Arts has been providing dental care to Bayside and Oyster Bay for over three generations.

In 1937, the year Dr. Samuel Corbin began his practice in Queens, the cost of a First Class Stamp was raised from 2 cents to 3 cents; Al Capone was sent to prison in Atlanta, Georgia; and the only option for lost or missing teeth was a small bridge or dentures. White fillings for cavities were not available and nitrous oxide — or laughing gas — and ether were the only anesthesia choices.

While family and cosmetic dentistry, and the world, have changed a great deal, doctors Richard and Bruce Corbin, who grew up in Bayside, say they are still committed to their neighbors and friends with the most up-to-date methods, high-tech equipment, pain-management and answers to any dental questions.

The Corbin Family Dental Arts offers Invisalign, cosmetic bonding and veneers to strengthen and beautify stained or discolored smiles, implants to restore missing or lost teeth permanently, and undetectable white fillings. The dentists are also licensed to administer Oral Conscious sedation that relieves anxiety and fatigue during dental procedures.

 

Breakfast looks at economic outlook


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

At many levels of the economy, there are several things entrepreneurs and financiers should be conscious of as the country continues its recovery. This was the theme of the several speakers who addressed businessmen and women on Tuesday, October 2 at an economist breakfast at Citi Tower in Long Island City. The talk featured economists and lawyers who outlined where the economy was and what businesses can expect over the next few years.

With many people taking the initiative and starting their own businesses, there are some things they should be mindful of, according to business attorney John Rogers.

“There are a lot of things that are within your control as a business owner so you maintain and maximize your value as a [proprietor].”

There are three specific items small business owners should consider when setting up shop: succession, selling and business divorce.

Selling a small or midsized business could take anywhere from a year to 18 months, said Rogers — a partner at Herrick, Feinstein, LLP. He recommended business owners surround themselves with a good team, including a lawyer and a financial advisor.

“When you sell your company, you’ll sell it at a premium hopefully,” Rogers told the audience.

Business partnerships, though normally based on friendship or a shared goal, might not always work out for a variety of reasons. When partners start their business, Rogers said, they might not expect to one day split for any reason. The result: a split that could take months more than anticipated.

“When people come together to form a company, they really don’t think about what happens if they need to part ways,” Rogers said. “The reality is that most formation organizations are not facing the issues.”

Dana Peterson, a Citigroup economist, offered a wide-scale view on where the market is and the hurdles it faces moving forward.

The fiscal cliff — the common term given to the series of tax and spending laws set to go into effect December 31, 2012, unless a divided Congress acts — could toss the country back into a recession similar to, if not worse than, the 2008 crumble.

“Clearly if you go over the cliff, it’s extremely devastating,” Peterson said.

Because the government is planning to hike taxes and cut spending at the same time, the country’s slow economic recovery could backtrack and slip into a 3.4 percent decline and the impact would be immediate, Peterson said. The nation’s credit rating would also be lowered once again.

The upcoming presidential election would be a major factor in determining if the economy will fall off the fiscal cliff.

Politicians need to look at the long-term effects of a solution to stop from going over the cliff, Peterson said, as some in Washington want a quick fix with the future to be dealt with later.

“The best case scenario is everyone sits down and discusses what needs to be done,” she said.

Awards, networking at LIC Partnership breakfast


| sLieberman@queenscourier.com

lic bid meetingw

The Long Island City Partnership hosted its annual Business Improvement District (BID) meeting last week, and over breakfast, attendees networked and discussed the betterment of the flourishing neighborhood.

Keynote speaker George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company Inc., stated the importance of New York’s hospitality industry, calling New York the nation’s premier port of entry. The economic impact of the city’s tourism industry amounts to $70 billion a year, he said.

“There is no borough more important than any other,” said Fertitta. “And there is no borough with more diversity and more to offer than Queens.”

Fertitta also stressed the need for New York residents to exploit the resources of the city.

“We need to make those insular Manhattanites realize what Queens has to offer,” he said.

The rest of the meeting focused on LIC’s vision for the future. The neighborhood is poised to become a leading center of tourism and revenue for the city. Upcoming area building projects include 19 hotels, totaling 2,000 rooms.

Awards were presented to local business leaders and involved residents. The Leadership Award was presented to Patrick O’Brien and Community Board 2; the Community Partner Award to Gianna Cerbone-Teoli of Manducatis Rustica restaurant; and the Queens Plaza Business Award was given to Takashi Ikezawa and Fumio Tashiro of Resobox.

The real strength of the BID meeting was the ability of businesses and residents to meet and mingle.

“Any time you have an opportunity to learn about what’s happening in the community, it is exciting,” said Ian Hardouin, a resident of LIC for the past five years.