Tag Archives: Coffeed

Come play the piano on the LIC waterfront

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Rob Basch

Visitors to the Long Island City waterfront this month will be able to bring some music to neighborhood.

The community group Hunters Point Parks Conservancy and LIC Landing by COFFEED have come together with Sing for Hope to get a piano to Hunters Point South Park as part of the nonprofit’s public art installation which brings colored pianos to parks and public spaces throughout the five boroughs.

For two weeks, the pianos, which this year totaled up to 50 and are created by different artists or designers, are placed at the sites and the public is invited to play the instruments.

The piano at Hunters Point South Park was designed by artist Christopher Beckman and is located at LIC Landing by COFFEED, a 2,000-square-foot outdoor event space and outdoor café, from sunrise to around 10 p.m. through June 21.

After the two weeks, the pianos will then be donated to a local community organization.

Along with Hunters Point South Park, Sing for Hope brought six other pianos to Queens this year including at Flushing Town Hall, the Jackson Heights Post Office, Kaufman Arts District, Rockaway Park: Boardwalk 86th, Roy Wilkins Recreation Center and the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

For more information, visit singforhope.org.


Queens ‘Zombie Ride’ to encourage safe biking

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Kidical Mass NYC

Wheels big and small will be going round and round this weekend through western Queens.

Advocacy organization Kidical Mass NYC will be hosting its third family bike ride and the first in Queens on Saturday, Oct. 25, through parts of Long Island City and Astoria.

The event, called “Zombie Ride,” will be a five-mile bike ride starting at the waterfront at Gantry Plaza State Park at the intersection of Center Boulevard and 47th Avenue.

The ride is open to intermediate-level bike riders or children ages 7 and up with good street-riding skills. Children in baby seats and on cargo bikes are also welcome to be a part of the event. 

“[We want to] make an opportunity to get kids to go around a city you walk, ride buses and drive in. It’s another way to get around,” said Hilda Cohen, one of the co-founders of Kidical Mass NYC.  “A lot of parents want to do this but are intimidated about it. It’s really a great way to see your city.”

The ride, which is named in the spirit of Halloween, will then continue through the Long Island City neighborhood and make its first stop at the rooftop garden Brooklyn Grange. After taking a rest stop at coffee shop COFFEED, the group will pass the Museum of the Moving Image and head back toward the waterfront to finish the ride at Socrates Sculpture Park, which will be hosting its Fall Festival. 

The young participants will also receive “spooky” treats such as zombie tattoos. 

“The name [of the event] has nothing to do with anything dangerous,” Cohen said. 

Kidical Mass NYC, which is the New York-based branch of the original Kidical Mass founded in Oregon, pays tribute to the national cycling event called Critical Mass.

Since starting in August, rides have taken place once a month in Brooklyn and Manhattan, bringing together about 40 participants, including adults and children. Now organizers have expanded the reach into Queens, hoping to attract residents from the other boroughs.

“Queens is the next big borough,” said Cristina Furlong of the organization Makes Queens Safer, who is helping Kidical Mass NYC organize the Queens event. “Queens is starting to get noticed.”

Members of the 108th and 114th precincts will also be in attendance on Saturday to provide extra security for the riders. 

“By being visible, I hope we influence some people that might be considering [cycling with their children] and show them that it’s safe,” Furlong said.

According to Cohen, although the event aims to show families that biking through their neighborhoods is a safe alternative to driving, the main goal of the day is to have fun. 

“We’re trying to make everything fun and exciting, which is exactly what biking is and it shouldn’t be something dangerous,” Cohen said. “This is just a means to enjoy our city with our kids.”

The “Zombie Ride” will begin at 10 a.m., with riders beginning to gather at 9:30 a.m. Cohen encourages those interested in participating to RSVP via the group’s Facebook page in order for every participant to receive their Halloween treats. Helmets are required for children 13 years old and under by law, and are recommended for everyone else, according to organizers. 

For more information visit www.facebook.com/kidicalmassnyc.


LIC poet set to release second book

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Mike Geffner

One Long Island City resident has turned her heartache into poetry and will soon be releasing her second book.

Audrey Dimola, who has been living in the western Queens neighborhood all her life, is set to release her book “Traversals,” a collection of poetry and prose, on Nov. 3.

Unlike her first book called “Decisions We Make While We Dream,” a collection spanning 12 years of poetry and prose released in 2012, her new book reflects on specific events in her life that took place between the fall of 2011 and present day.

“That’s why I ended up calling it ‘Traversals’ because it ends up being about the journey, survival and going through heartbreak, going through loss and losing yourself and then finding yourself,” Dimola said. “My motto after that became to turn your ache into art.”

In the 176-page self-published book, Dimola uses poetry and prose to reflect on the hardships she faced in losing a loved one, ending a long-term relationship and then growing from the obstacles.

“It makes me pull back and realize that everything has a purpose and everything happens for a reason. And I wouldn’t be in this wonderful place that I am in right now if all those things wouldn’t have happened,” Dimola said. “I hope to be able to help other people.”

BOOK - promo shot

The poet also said putting the book together was an emotional experience, as she looked back on the events in her life. However, she sees the book as a way to honor the events and people that were a part of them.

“[The book] is the beginning of becoming the person that I am, breaking out of the shell and breaking out of myself,” Dimola said. “It’s just a wonderful milestone.”

Strongly involved in the Queens literary community, Dimola recently took part in open mic nights as part of the series The Inspired Word at COFFEED in Long Island City. She said she sees the art community growing and thinks it is important for artists not to be afraid of putting their work out there.

“I just want to stress to artists to not be afraid. In this day and age it is a lot easier to get your work out,” she said. “It is important to support each other, keeping the [art] community up and being brave.”

A formal release party of “Traversals” is scheduled for Nov. 13 at Q.E.D., located at 27-16 23rd. Ave. in Astoria, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The launch party will also feature poetic, musical and dance performances by other artists.

For more information visit www.audreydimola.com.


Local artists to capture Astoria in new exhibition

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Maria Belford

Astoria is ready for its photo op.

Artists, friends and Astoria residents Maria Belford and Sara Sciabbarrasi have come together to showcase their admiration for the western Queens neighborhood in a new exhibition opening this Sunday at the Long Island City café COFFEED, located at 37-18 Northern Blvd.

The show called “FACES & FIGURES: Art from Astoria,” which will have a June 22 opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. and run until June 29, will feature photographs by Belford and bronze and steel sculptures by Sciabbarrasi.

The name of the exhibition comes from the idea that the photographs show figures of people more than their faces and Sciabbarrasi’s sculptures explore the detail and aesthetics of the human face, according to Belford.

Drain, 2011. Bronze, steel, wax & hair sculpture (Sculpture by Sara Sciabbarrasi)

“I am really excited about this exhibition in particular because it is in Queens and close to my neighborhood,” said Belford, who decided to organize the exhibition with Sciabbarrasi, her roommate, because she wanted to showcase another local artist. “I wanted to have something new and different. It’ll show the juxtaposition of the two different mediums.”

Belford, originally from New Hampshire, is a street/documentary photographer who said she looks to capture the mysterious side of strangers, allowing the viewer to see the image and make up their own story in their head.

“It’s all about capturing the moment. I’ve always been interested in the kind of spontaneous types of photos that one moment are there and the next they are gone,” Belford said. “A lot of my best photos come from days that I haven’t been actively shooting. I can’t really plan for anything ahead of time. I really don’t know what I will get when I go out.”

Although Belford snaps photos from all over the world, she said the exhibition will showcase photos she has taken of strangers in her Astoria neighborhood.

30th Ave, Astoria, Queens 2014 (Photo by Maria Belford)

“I can walk out of my door and see a wide array of people outside every single day,” Belford said. “It’s really interesting to see different types of people, old and young.”

All photographs and sculptures presented at the exhibition will be available for purchase.

For more information on the artists visit www.mariabelford.com and www.saradart.blogspot.com.



New outdoor cafe begins to bring local menu to LIC waterfront

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Wade Zimmerman

Passengers on the East River Ferry will be welcomed with a tasteful Queens experience once they dock into Long Island City’s Hunter’s Point South Park.

The owners of COFFEED, a café located at 37-18 Northern Blvd., have opened a brand-new 160-seat outdoor café called LIC Landing by COFFEED right on the Long Island City waterfront under the pavilion at the park.

The site features a walk-up window where customers can order, table service available for dinner and on weekends, and a dedicated 2,000-square-foot event space.

Although a grand opening is expected in the next two weeks, starting May 21 customers have been able to stop by the location and try items off the menu, which LIC Landing owners are slowly rolling out.

“We’re super excited to be here,” CEO and founder Frank “Turtle” Raffaele said. “This is a spectacular park and certainly puts Queens on a bigger map. It’s one of the best views of New York City and people come to Queens and want to have a great experience. We want [visitors] to have a very solid Queens experience.”

Once the full menu is available café patrons will be able to enjoy full menu items including sandwiches, salads, pastries, COFFEED’s specialty coffees and teas, craft beer and wine, while enjoying a view of the Manhattan skyline.

All the food sold at LIC Landing is made from local ingredients and continues COFFEED’s partnership with Long Island City’s rooftop farm Brooklyn Grange. The names of the menu items are all also inspired by the borough’s streets, subway lines and famous residents.

“Everything is very Queens-focused. The ingredients are from Queens, flavors from Queens, the vibe is Queens,” Raffaele said.

The event space is available to host occasions for community organizations and private events, such as weddings, birthday parties, fundraisers and much more.

Keeping with COFFEED’s continuous contribution to local charities and groups, 3 percent of LIC Landing’s revenue will be donated to the nonprofit Hunters Point Parks Conservancy.

“We want to add a little more to the park. We want it to be for Queens people and for everybody, and give them all an experience of Queens they’ve never had before,” Raffaele said.

LIC Landing will be open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. On weekdays table service is available from 5 to 10 p.m., and on weekends from 12 to 10 p.m.



Successful performance series returns to Queens after five years

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jay Franco

What started in Queens five years ago as a small poetry night — then gained success in Manhattan — is now making its way back to the borough stronger than ever.

Former journalist and lifelong Queens resident Mike Geffner began The Inspired Word in 2009 at a Forest Hills restaurant. The series, which started just for fun as a small monthly poetry reading, grew that year from an audience of 10 people to about 60.

However, the restaurant went out of business and left The Inspired Word without a venue. After taking a summer off, Geffner couldn’t find a venue he liked in Queens, so he took the series to Manhattan venues where, throughout the past four years, the series has expanded to include spoken word, music, comedy, storytelling and many more performances four to five times a week.

After the series had been away from Queens for five years, a friend recommended Geffner take a look at expanding back into the borough. After looking at venues in Long Island City and Astoria, Geffner found a home at COFFEED, a café located at 37-18 Northern Blvd.

“LIC and Astoria is really booming with artists,” Geffner said. “The second I walked in I said to my partner, ‘This is it.’ It was beautifully decorated, I just liked the vibe of the place and it smelled of artists. It just looked like everybody was doing something artistic there.”

The Long Island City café made the perfect location because it shared the same eco-friendly and community-based views as the series, according to Geffner.

Starting May 7, The Inspired Word will host open mic nights at the coffee shop every Wednesday. The series’ open mic events in Manhattan continue to see a lot of success with 30 to 40 artists currently performing per night.

“If we could build it in Manhattan, we can definitely build it back in Queens where my heart is,” he said.

Geffner said that it is important that the open mic nights at COFFEED feature Queens artists. Each night will have hosts from Long Island City and Astoria and one artist will be showcased every other week.

The Inspired Word will donate five percent of all proceeds to one artist’s favorite charity each month and will work to help promote artists’ careers.

“This has been a great second life to me and being able to bring it back to Queens, I’m so excited about it,” Geffner said. “More excited than I’ve ever been doing the whole series.”

For more information or to sign up for a Wednesday open mic night, visit www.inspiredwordnyc.com. Artists will also be able to register at the door.



LIC’s Entrepreneur Space: Helping businesses grow for the past three years

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Entrepreneur Space

For the past three years the Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City has been that light at the end of the tunnel for many aspiring self-starters looking to get into the food business.

The Entrepreneur Space, located at 36-46 37th St., is a 5,500-square-foot food and business incubator available for clients to rent by shifts, on a 24/7 basis, for a “low cost.” The space is administered by the Queens Economic Development Corporation and funded by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

“There are people out there that want to [start] their own business and running a food business legally cannot be done from your home kitchen,” said Kathrine Gregory, founder of the Entrepreneur Space. “What we are doing is we are taking people out of their home kitchen and giving them an opportunity to grow a business [at] their own pace.”

The space offers clients a professional kitchen atmosphere, which includes equipment such as commercial mixers, a hearth oven, small wares and pans, a freezer, and cold and dry storage. Clients bring any ingredients or packaging needed. A client assistant is also available to help the clients with any tasks.

“We always have staff in the kitchen,” said Gregory. “You aren’t in the kitchen by yourself. You don’t have to worry about something going wrong.”

There are also classrooms and conference rooms available to rent for meetings, teaching and small or large events.

Since starting in 2011, over 400 aspiring business men and women, who Gregory calls “food-preneurs,” have come through the Entrepreneur Space. Some realized starting a food business was not for them, while others continued creating their treats.

One business that has been with the space since the very beginning is MitchMallows, which offers handcrafted marshmallows with unique flavors, such as churros and ginger wasabi.

“It was a godsend that the Entrepreneur Space even exists, otherwise a business like mine would have no home,” said Mitch Greenberg, owner and head chef of MitchMallows. “It’s the perfect solution to start up culinary businesses like mine. My business keeps growing and everyone at the kitchen is terrific to work with.”

The Entrepreneur Space celebrated its third anniversary on Feb. 11, with about 40 clients displaying and selling their products.

The celebration’s theme commemorated the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, where the Belgian Waffle made its debut. MariePaule Vermersch, daughter of the originator of the waffle in the U.S., was on hand to make waffles with the requisite powdered sugar, whipped cream and strawberries.

The event was sponsored by Coffeed, Fairway, Fortune Society and Square Wine & Spirits.

“It feels really great, I can’t believe it has been three years,” said Gregory. “The best part comes back to the people who come in with their dreams and now they see a light at the end of the tunnel and they see how they can do it. That’s the exciting part; that’s the inspiring part.”



Green businesses growing in LIC

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Environmentally friendly businesses in Long Island City are perfecting green living in an urban setting.

Coffeed, a java joint on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Grange building on Northern Boulevard, serves sandwiches, soups and salads, crafted from ingredients grown on the roof of their building. The top deck of the six-story LIC building holds an acre of farm-fresh goods, picked ripe and dropped right on the tables of patrons in the café downstairs.

“You know the guy who grows your carrots and roasts your coffee,” said Coffeed co-owner Frank Raffaele. “It’s farm to table and I’m just really happy to do that in a super, hyperlocal way.”

The eco-advocate says he intends to keep the farm going year-round, changing crops depending on the season. Currently, the rooftop oasis yields eggplant, kale, cherries, arugula and radishes. Coffeed sources most of their coffee from Africa but has it ground by a local company on Long Island. Eventually, Raffaele says he would love to grow his own beans.

Ten percent of the outfit’s sales go to City Growers, an organization that educates city children about the process and benefits of urban farming. Raffaele says it’s the first time many young people experience provincial living the beginning stages of food preparation and that many city residents miss developing a connection with the way food is grown and sourced.

“From a community standpoint, you are buying products from people who work and live in your community,” said Raffaele. “It’s just like a small town. There’s something nice that people in New York don’t have.”

While locally sourcing the best ingredients remains Coffeed’s ultimate goal, Raffaele said balancing costs and principles is complicated.

“It’s a tough niche because we want to give the best quality and source everything locally but that’s a little more expensive,” said Raffaele. “We’re trying to strike a balance.”

The farm-to-table movement isn’t limited to food. Locally-sourced flowers are gaining popularity in the neighborhood, thanks to a two-month-old business.

Debbie Demarse, owner of online flower shop NYC Farm Chic Flowers, is bringing the “farm-to-vase” movement to Long Island City, pushing the ecological and economic benefits to choosing locally-grown blooms.

Roughly 80 percent of flowers sold in the United States are imported and 50 percent of flowers shipped into the country perish en route and are thrown away before they hit the store. According to Demarse, American farmers have been forced to shut down or cut back because of the increased number of imported flowers, a trend she believes would change if people knew they had a choice.

“It’s all about education and getting the word out there,” said Demarse. “Most people don’t know there’s a choice when buying flowers.”

Demarse selects most of her flowers from growers on Long Island and a greenhouse in Hudson Valley. She has also begun working with Brooklyn Grange, the same company that partnered with Raffaele to start Coffeed.

Demarse, who buys flowers per order to cut down on the 50 percent that hit the floor, said there are no downsides or limitations to solely sourcing from local growers. The products she sells are made without harmful pesticides that have been known to cause chemical burns and cancer among famers.

Both Demarse and Raffaele hope to educate Long Island City residents about the benefits to sourcing and purchasing locally-grown and locally made items, building a self-sufficient and connected community.