Tag Archives: Cross Bay Boulevard

Owner of Smitty’s Hot Dog truck celebrates 25 years with $1 wieners


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

During the dog days of summer, there’s one spot in Ozone Park where people can get relief—not from high temperatures but from high food prices.

The owner of Smitty’s Hot Dog and Italian Sausage truck, located on 149th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard in Ozone Park, is celebrating 25 years at the location by offering hot dogs at a discounted price—a buck apiece.

Don Cusumano has owned the truck since 1989 and frankfurter aficionados come from all over the tri-state area to chow down.

“You see those plates over there,” said Abdullah Muhammed, pointing at his car while waiting for his usual two hot dogs with mustard and onions. “I come all the way from New Jersey just to get Smitty’s.”

Cusumano bought the truck 25 years ago from a man named Schmidt, who had it in the same location for about 50 years.  He decided to keep the name “Smitty” because he thought people would rather have a “Smitty” dog than a “Don” dog.

He upgraded the truck by installing a drive-thru window on the street side to better accommodate customers, many of whom have been loyal for decades.

“I started coming here when I was 16 years old and now I’m 61,” said Joseph DeFeligibus, who raved about Cusumano’s homemade onions and Italian sausage. “Don’s a great man. Everyone knows about him.”

Cusumano’s anniversary special of $1.00 hot dogs will continue through Sept. 1. He said it’s a small way of thanking all those loyal customers that keep his truck going.

Aside from serving his customers, Cusumano shares a helping hand to those less fortunate in the community. He has taken part in events such as Toys for Tots, National Night Out Against Crime and even donated hot dogs to Hurricane Sandy victims.

“I enjoy what I do because I love serving this community,” Cusumano said. “Serving my customers is great. I’ve never thought about leaving this spot.”

 

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New shopping center coming to Ozone Park


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy Platinum Realty

A new shopping center is being built in a vacant lot in Ozone Park, and owners are planning to have it completed in time for Christmas.

Platinum Realty Associates plans to build a one-story center on the plot of land where Cross Bay Boulevard and North Conduit Avenue intersect. The project is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 1 and could house as many as 10 tenants.

The firm hopes to secure a supermarket as the anchor tenant, but has not confirmed one as of yet.

In the rendering obtained by The Courier, there are parking spaces for the stores, but a company official could not confirm the exact number of spots that will be available.

 

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Cross Bay Key Food set to open at end of summer


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Howard Beach is finally ready to open its second largest supermarket.

Key Food, located on 164th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard, is set to open at the “end of the summer,” according to a spokeswoman for the Key Food Corporation. It has been a long awaited opening for the building that has been out of commission since Hurricane Sandy.

There were rumors throughout the neighborhood that the store was not going to open at all. The announcement that Key Food was coming to the boulevard came more than a year ago and many theorized the store wasn’t big enough for refrigeration of its products. But with signs going up this week and workers filing in and out of the site, the opening appears imminent.

The shop will be branded as a Key Food “Fresh” location, which will compete with Waldbaum’s, the only other supermarket on the boulevard.

 

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Howard Beach Staples to close at end of May


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Roger Gendron

The only Staples in Howard Beach is closing at the end of this month.

The store put signs up announcing the closure last week but there will be none of the usual sales fanfare, according to the workers at the Cross Bay Boulevard location. Residents have noticed workers starting to pack boxes as the store nears its closing date.

“Sad how everything seems to stay here short term,” Lisa Marie, a local, wrote on the Howard Beach Civic Association Facebook page.

Superstorm Sandy hit businesses hard on the boulevard and the office supply store didn’t open back up until mid-2013. With less than a year of operating after recovering, the store will be closing its doors for good.

A photo of the Staples Howard Beach location after it reopened, taken around the one-year anniversary of Sandy. (THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre)

“Whenever a large store like that closes, it sends bad vibes through the community,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said.

The fact that Staples was willing to reopen after Sandy, unlike the local Duane Reade, led him and other local politicians to think they were here to stay.

“We’re trying to bring back our local economy,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said. “Staples was always a good neighbor but I’m hopeful. This gives us an opportunity for new entities to come in.”

A Staples worker said that the increase in online retail has made it unnecessary to keep the location open.

“As customers shift online, we are taking aggressive action to right-size our retail footprint,” a spokesperson for Staples, Kaitlyn Reardon said. Staples is also “working to provide transfer options where possible” for the workers there.

Addabbo noted that many of these workers are locals. “It’s a loss of jobs,” he said. “So now the question is post-Staples, what happens?”

 

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NYPD detective arrested in Queens for drunk driving after accidentally shooting partner


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 8:30 p.m.

A Brooklyn NYPD detective was arrested in Queens for drunk driving early Thursday morning after he accidentally shot his partner in the wrist, officials said.

Jay Poggi, 57, who, according to police is a member of the 75th Precinct, was showing the hammer of his Smith and Wesson revolver to fellow detective, Matthew Sullivan, when the gun went off, striking his partner in the right wrist, court records said.

The detectives were supposedly on their way to conduct a robbery investigation in Far Rockaway when Poggi accidentally fired the weapon, the New York Daily News reported.

Poggi then drove their unmarked police car to Jamaica Hospital where Sullivan underwent surgery, according to the criminal complaint.

At the hospital, a responding officer noticed that the front passenger seat area of their vehicle was covered in “a significant amount of blood,” court papers stated. He also said he noticed Poggi had alcohol on his breath and bloodshot eyes.

The officer then gave the detective a field sobriety test, which registered above the legal limit, at .113 percent, prosecutors said. Poggi later allegedly refused to take a Breathalyzer test at the 112th Precinct.

Poggi was arraigned Thursday in Queens Criminal Court and charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, according to prosecutors. He was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court on June 16. His driver’s license has also been suspended.

The Queens District Attorney’s Office said the investigation is still ongoing and is being conducted by the chief of its Integrity Bureau.

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Cross Bay biz: Coming back from the storm


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

The record-breaking winter brought on two different fates for two iconic Cross Bay Boulevard businesses.

Giovanni Malinconico has experienced what he calls “life’s punches” when it comes to his bakery La Torre, a Howard Beach staple for nearly three decades.

When you walk into Malinconico’s pasticceria, you’re greeted with the sweet smell of fresh pastries and desserts.

But the dough hasn’t risen for Malinconico, known in Howard Beach as “John da Baker,” thanks to repeated snowstorms over several weekends.

“This is a weekend business,” he said. “I’ve lost about 10 percent. January and February aren’t strong months to begin with, so this made it even worse.”

This is the second straight slow season for the baker, who said he lost 60 percent of “normal income” in the year following Sandy.

The superstorm hit three weeks before Thanksgiving, Malinconico’s “number two holiday” in sales, he said. The first, Christmas, was “just pathetic.”

“Nobody was thinking about buying things, nobody had their homes to celebrate in,” he said. “The hammer just keeps nailing you down. These are what they call ‘life’s punches.’”

However, a few blocks up Cross Bay, Ragtime Dairy, a gourmet supermarket, has maintained its steady stream of customers despite Mother Nature posing a threat.

“The store is never closed,” said Anthony Ribaudo, store manager. “When snowstorms come, people like to load up on their goodies in case they’re stuck at home.”

But, like La Torre, January and February are slow months for the 30-year-old neighborhood market, and the manager is looking forward to altering the menu to compliment warmer weather by bringing in fresh salads and wraps.

Other Cross Bay businesses have made their way back after Sandy, and a strip that had dozens of vacancies now has only a few. “We will always be open for our customers,” Ribaudo said. “With that, we’ll never have a problem.”

 

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New Park Pizza in Howard Beach vandalized


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via mrsquinn1118/Instagram

The iconic Howard Beach pizzeria, New Park Pizza, was reportedly vandalized early Friday morning.

An angry customer tagged “worst service ever” on the pizza spot’s front windows for all of Cross Bay Boulevard to see, according to an Instagram picture posted Friday morning.

An employee said the graffiti was washed away by the time he came into work.

New Park Pizza was the site of a 1986 hate crime in which a black man, Michael Griffith, was killed.

 

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Howard Beach helps ‘Stuff the Bus’ for charity


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

After being knocked out by Sandy last year, the Rotary Club of Southwest Queens once again collected dozens of grocery bags filled with Thanksgiving food for the needy.

“People are being very generous,” said Joseph DiBlasi of the Rotary Club. “Some people come out with big bags.”
DiBlasi and other volunteers camped out by the Waldbaum’s on Cross Bay Boulevard on Saturday. They handed out flyers to passersby and collected item after item of donated food.

Excited donors handed over food items they bought while others contributed money and pre-wrapped gift baskets to the cause. All of the donations went to the Our Lady of Grace food pantry.

“They can only do so much over there,” DiBlasi said. “Sometimes their shelves are empty.”

While the Rotarians worked to stuff the bus, a group of young children and their parents walked up, each carrying a $1 donation.

“It was really nice,” DiBlasi said. “I don’t see a difference this year. People have always been willing to help.”

The group also put a donation bin in the Citibank right next to Waldbaum’s. That bin will stay in the Cross Bay bank branch until Thanksgiving.

DiBlasi said he and the Rotary crew could have stayed at the Waldbaum’s all day long, collecting more and more food. He estimated they stuffed the bus with about 50 filled grocery bags, and delivered the donations to Our Lady of Grace on Monday morning.

“They were thrilled. We did very well,” DiBlasi said. “You don’t realize how much you’re getting as you’re taking two or three bags [into the bus] at a time.”

 

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SANDY ONE YEAR LATER: Cross Bay businesses make a comeback


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre

After opening her two-floor hair salon and spa on Cross Bay Boulevard in July last year, Kimberly Langona was devastated when months later, it was partially destroyed.

Superstorm Sandy wiped out the entire first floor of Explosion Hair Styling, destroying equipment including hair dryers, electrical wiring, furniture and computers.

“Everything was lost,” said Langona, who rebuilt the entire salon and replaced all the equipment, which cost an estimated $150,000. “I couldn’t even tell you how hard it was to turn people away.”

Photo courtesy Kimberly Langona

Explosions Hair Styling was completely reconstructed after receiving massive damage from Sandy. (THE COURIER/ Photo by Liam La Guerre)

Full power was not restored to the building until December of last year, but Langona kept the salon and spa partially open by utilizing generators on the second floor, which is called Serenity Day Spa.

Now, a year later, business is buzzing at full capacity in the salon, much like other businesses on Cross Bay Boulevard.

The Howard Beach commercial strip was under water after Sandy struck on October 29, and many businesses were forced to close. Some never reopened and others endured months of rebuilding before making a comeback.

“It was a mess,” said Joe De Candia, owner of Lenny’s Clam Bar. “You couldn’t fathom that much water.”

About four feet of water rushed into the restaurant, a 40-year staple in the community which is famous for serving numerous celebrities. The force of the flooding tossed tables and chairs outside the eatery and the garbage compactor was moved four blocks away. All the electrical equipment and wiring on the first floor was destroyed and the walls were soaked with water.

The restaurant lost power for about three weeks, but De Candia said they immediately started making repairs, which were paid for out-of-pocket. After the power returned it took another two weeks before they had a partial reopening.

“We were limping but we were able to reopen,” De Candia said.

But because of Sandy, Lenny’s was able to come back bigger and better. The gym next door, Better Bodies Fitness for Women, wasn’t able to rebuild so De Candia bought the property and expanded the restaurant and added a party room. He also shifted the bar to make it bigger.

Lenny’s wasn’t the only business that improved following the storm.
Scott Baron & Associates PC completely rebuilt the first floor, making it more functional and adding state of-the-art-technology.

The law office, which has been known as a community champion for nearly 20 years, finally held its grand reopening in June. Before the Howard Beach office reopened though, Scott Baron, the owner, said they moved operations to their office in Yonkers.

Baron is happy that the commercial strip is back again and said it’s a testament to the community sticking together.

“I saw a lot of store owners helping store owners and neighbors helping neighbors, because everyone was in the same boat,” Baron said. “The community really came together.”

 

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Howard Beach gets new senior housing location


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Howard Beach is home to a new senior housing location, providing more than 80 units of affordable housing for the elderly.

Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development and Management Corporation, a century-old organization, has various housing sites through Brooklyn and Queens and recently completed renovations at the Cross Bay Boulevard location, formerly the Fineson Center.

“The opening of the Catholic Charities’ senior housing residence is a huge victory for the Howard Beach community and all of the residents in Queens,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder. “Our growing senior population can finally achieve the quality housing they deserve.”

All resident applications have already been accepted, and the applying period is closed, said a Catholic Charities official.

The Fineson Center, constructed as a private hospital in the 1960s, closed in the summer of 2009 to begin the conversion into a senior housing facility.

Catholic Charities additionally provides accommodations for the developmentally disabled, mentally ill and the isolated, according to its website. The official said this Howard Beach spot has additional units designated for people with disabilities.

Goldfeder said the new housing will also allow residents to keep “financial and economic independence” and remain “in their own backyard.”

“This building will finally provide a centralized location for our diverse senior community to meet under one roof,” he added.

The new facility, outside of housing units, will also have laundry facilities, resident lounges and offices. State Senator Joseph Addabbo also recently secured the return of a U.S. Mail collection box in front of the building.

There is not yet a set occupancy date for the new residents.

 

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DEP fixing pipe that led to flooding in Howard Beach


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

A flood-prone intersection in Howard Beach will finally see relief. Cross Bay Boulevard and 165th Avenue was long the site of collected storm water, creating a potentially dangerous situation for patrons at nearby Russo’s on the Bay.

“It wasn’t safe,” said Frank Russo, the catering hall’s owner. “In the winter time, that section would ice over. Other times, it was a puddle of water. It actually went over the sidewalk.”

Crews from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were performing regular cleaning of the neighborhood sewer system when they found the pipe that connects the intersection’s catch basin to the sewer line was broken, according to a spokesperson.

They could not determine for how long the pipe had been broken. Repairs are currently underway and will be completed this week.

“There definitely was an issue there,” Russo said, adding that local elected officials helped push the project. “But they’re fixing the problem.”

 

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Key Food heading to Cross Bay


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

After sustaining the flood waters of Sandy, one Cross Bay Boulevard store is fixing up and changing its colors.

The former Duane Reade, located at 162-30 Cross Bay Boulevard, is on the way to becoming a new Key Food.

“It’ll be good to have another supermarket around here,” said Wendy Maldonado, a nearby resident. “I’ve heard good things about Key Food. I know it’ll be great.”

There are already Key Foods in both Rockaway Park and Rockaway Beach.

A Waldbaum’s grocery store is just down the road on the corner of 156th Avenue, but residents and employees down the street think the addition of another supermarket will only be convenient.

Geographically, it’s a great location,” said Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10. “This will give people more choice, and choices are always good.”

Marian Genao works close to the new Key Food site and said the supermarket will help working people in the area.

“Buying meat and bread at the supermarket will be so much easier than buying lunch every day,” she said. “Other places around here are expensive.”

Genao added that a sandwich at a nearby, independent deli can reach up to $10 and said paying for that every day “really adds up, especially for working people.”

Key Food did not return requests for comment as of press time.

 

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Teen charged in Cross Bay Boulevard crash


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M .Cullen

A suspect has been arrested and charged in connection with a high-speed car crash in Broad Channel that left 10 people injured and snarled traffic along Cross Bay Boulevard.

Gurdip Multani, 17, was charged with reckless endangerment, assault and speeding, according to the DA, on Saturday.

He was arraigned the following day with bail set at $25,000.

Multani reportedly lost control of the white Honda he was driving on Cross Bay Boulevard, about a mile from the foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge, and crashed into two other cars.

According to a DA report, the driver was going more than 100 MPH when he careened over the grassy median before 5 p.m. on Friday, May 10. There were six people in the car, police said, one of whom suffered a broken arm, leg and hip.

Ten people were injured in the crash, with three victims reportedly hospitalized with critical injuries.

Multani’s Honda split in two. Windows in the car were blown out, with parts of the vehicle and personal items scattered along the roadway.

An orange work vest with an MTA logo was draped over the driver seat. A similar vest was folded on the ground near the car’s smashed trunk.

The two other vehicles, a Suzuki SX4 and a Dodge Charger, suffered less damage.

Southbound traffic on Cross Bay at 164th Street in Howard Beach was shut down for hours, Only foot traffic was allowed to cross the bridge. Northbound traffic toward Howard Beach was limited to one lane as drivers passed the crash site.

Multani is due back in court on June 10.

 

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Multi-vehicle accident injures several, closes Cross Bay Boulevard in both directions


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

A multi-vehicle accident on Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel has left several people injured and closed the roadway in both directions, according to media reports.

Three cars were involved in the accident and at least 10 people were hurt, said CBS New York.

Two people are in critical condition, three are in serious condition and five are stable, CBS also reported.

Petco, other shops overcome Sandy setbacks


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

As the days and months since Sandy tick by, businesses in south Queens are rising from the rubble and returning to normalcy.

There was “paws” for applause on Saturday, April 27 as the Howard Beach Petco reopened. It had closed six months ago due to damage from Sandy.

Animals both big and small—all the way down to crickets—were evacuated before the storm, according to general manager Victor Aponte. He regularly communicated with his corporate affiliates. They decided to move the animals and their habitats to other locations in Queens and Brooklyn.

By the time flood waters from Sandy had ebbed back into Jamaica Bay, Petco and many other Cross Bay Boulevard businesses were considerably damaged. Aponte said floors had to be ripped up and the whole shop was inspected for mold.

Before the storm, there were 15 staffers at Petco, many of them living in the community. They were not only worried about damage to their homes and properties. They also had concerns about their jobs. However, staffers were relocated to other stores in Utica and College Point.

Now that the store has reopened, staff and community members couldn’t be happier, Aponte said.

Shoppers and their four-legged friends came to the store all day Saturday, making use of special bonuses and grabbing giveaways.

Rich Naimoli of Ozone Park said he had been shopping at another pet store on Cross Bay Boulevard, but it did not compare to the variety and help at Petco. He added that he and his wife, who own three dogs, were thrilled the Howard Beach pet shop was up and running again.

“I’m just happy they’re back,” Naimoli said.

Aponte said while Petco was part of a corporate chain, he and the staff have tried to make it a community place where residents can get one-on-one help. There are now 17 staff members in all. The reopening, he said, was another step toward normalcy half a year after Sandy devastated the area.

“It’s just exciting to get the neighborhood back to where we were before the hurricane,” Aponte said. “We really feel we’re a neighborhood store.”

According to State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office, eight businesses are still closed on Cross Bay Boulevard. Some were able to bounce back just weeks after floodwater caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. For others, it’s been a major struggle.

It remains to be seen whether 7-Eleven and Jennifer Convertibles will reopen, However, Cross Bay Diner is slated to come back.

Joe DeCandia, owner of Lenny’s Clam Bar, was back in business less than a month after the storm. He worked practically around the clock on repairs. Now, he said, the popular eatery along with most of the boulevard is in good shape.

“We’re doing pretty good,” he said. “We’re up and running. We’re doing okay, thank God.”

 

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