Tag Archives: Cross Bay Boulevard

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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Suspect sought in cell phone store burglary


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is looking for a man wanted in connection to the  burglary of a Verizon Wireless store in Ozone Park.

According to police, on Thursday, March 7, around 5:30 p.m., three suspects entered the business, located at 107-12 Cross Bay Boulevard, through a rear window and removed numerous cell phones, laptops and an undetermined amount of cash.

Authorities have released a photo of one of the suspects, who is described as a 35-year-old Hispanic male, 5’8” tall and 160 pounds. He was last seen wearing a sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

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Doe Fund cleans up Broad Channel


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Broad Channel is seeing blue.

Nine workers from the Doe Fund, dubbed “the men in blue,” will help clean up a two-mile stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, as the island still continues to recover nearly four months after Sandy hit.

The cleanup effort, which officially began on Friday, February 15, will run from the foot of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge to the American Legion Post 1404.

The Doe Fund gives homeless men and women a second chance by providing jobs and starting a new life. Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways have been other areas the Doe Fund has cleaned up in wake of the storm. The men will pick up the roadside trash and haul it on to Department of Sanitation trucks.

“The garbage and the litter and the debris are still here,” said Councilmember Eric Ulrich. “People are going to be so impressed. They’re [the workers] going to do a top-notch job.”

Ulrich said he reached out to Doe Fund chair George McDonald two weeks ago to help clean up Broad Channel’s main thoroughfare, which is still littered with debris. Flanked by Doe Fund members and representatives from the National Park Service and the Department of Sanitation, Ulrich said the “Men in Blue” would be on Cross Bay Boulevard, picking up trash until the job is done. The goal, he added, is to have Cross Bay back to its pre-storm look, if not better.

Cross Bay Boulevard is the first view of the Rockaways visitors get and the road needed to keep that vista positive, Ulrich said.

The relationship between the Doe Fund and south Queens goes back to long before the storm, according to Community Board 14 chair Dolores Orr. The organization helps clean up Beach 116th street, an economic hub in Rockaway, every spring, Orr said.

“It’s equally important for the residents trying to recover themselves,” Orr said.

McDonald, who’s also running as a Republican for mayor, said the men and women of the organization were hard workers and dedicated to getting their life back on track.

“It’s on behalf of all the citizens of New York that we come here and help clean up,” McDonald said. “We are thrilled to be able to give back. I know this partnership is going to do great things for this community and I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

 

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Queens couple stays strong through Sandy


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Frances and Peter Wilps

Frances and Peter Wilps of Broad Channel were selected as the winners of The Queens Courier Valentine’s Day Couples Contest:

In traditional wedding vows, the bride and groom often promise to love each other “in good times and in bad,” but for one Queens couple, it would have been more appropriate to say “in good weather and in bad.”

Natural disasters, however, were the last thing on Frances and Peter Wilps’ minds when they were matched on the dating website eHarmony.

Both were previously married with children, and for the first time decided to go online to find love.
Frances said she didn’t have high hopes of meeting someone, but thought, “what do I have to lose? Let me give it a whirl.”

Her first few dates were “a disaster,” but her first date with Peter was the opposite.

“Everything he said [on his online dating profile] seemed so sincere,” said Frances.

But that magical first meeting almost didn’t happen because Peter lived in Monmouth County, New Jersey and Frances resided in Broad Channel, a distance of one to two hours, depending on traffic.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going to go through with this. It’s a big waste of time, the commute seeing each other,’” said Frances.

Still, Peter was persistent and called her for a date, agreeing to meet her at Frenasia, an Asian restaurant on Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.

“[Frenasia] has kind of become our home. It’s our every Friday night thing,” said Frances.

About five months later, in August 2007, Frenasia was where Peter proposed.

It was also where the couple went to have a private moment following their wedding.

“We walked in there as husband and wife, and we sat down and someone sent us a bottle of champagne and we ate a little something,” said Frances.

Following the wedding, Peter moved to Frances’ home in Broad Channel, and the adjustment was easy. Like his wife, Peter grew up in Queens.

The real test of their marriage came a few years later when Irene hit New York City in August, 2011, followed by Sandy only 14 months later.

Their house sustained some water damage from Irene, but Sandy destroyed the Wilps’ entire first floor.

“We knew we would get water, but we never thought the magnitude of it would be what it was”, said Frances.

Though many personal items were lost, fortunately their wedding photos and other keepsakes were fine.

“On the mantle I had a bunch of pictures and my husband said take them off, bring them upstairs and I was questioning him, she said. “Thank God I listened.”

A few months later, they are slowly fixing their first floor, but there is still no heat, appliances or furniture in downstairs.
“You learn what you take for granted, that’s for sure,” said Frances.

For now, they are living in a bedroom and are dealing with the financial burden and rebuilding what they lost in the storm.

Sandy “has been very trying,” on their relationship, said Frances.

“We are on top of each other 24/7 and it’s tough, the stress of no money and the house is a mess,” she continued.
But along with adding stress, the disaster has also strengthened their marriage.

“The support from one another has been fabulous,” He’s just wonderful. When I need him, he’s always strong. And I’m there for him when he has his moments and he’s upset and he’s worried,” she said. “We’re each other’s backbone.”

As winners of The Courier’s contest the Wilps will receive a “King & Queens for a Day” spa package from Christie & Co. Salon * Spa in The Bay Terrace.

 

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Howard Beach bank robbery suspect sought


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is asking the public’s assistance identifying the suspect wanted for a bank robbery in Howard Beach.

On Thursday, January 17, the suspect walked into the Capital One Bank, located at 155-14 Cross Bay Boulevard and demanded money. The teller complied and the suspect fled with an undetermined amount of cash. There were no reported injuries.

Anyone with information in regards to this bank robbery is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

 

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Rite Aid reopens on Cross Bay Boulevard


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

Life is getting back to normal in south Queens nearly two months after Sandy struck the area.

On Wednesday, December 12, staffers from the Cross Bay Boulevard Rite Aid, along with State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder, officially cut the ribbon to reopen the store, which saw significant flooding as water from Jamaica Bay poured into Howard Beach.

With CVS still out and Duane Reade closed, the pharmacy has become the only stop for medical needs in the area, said Rite Aid employee Kathy Russo.

“We were up [after the storm],” Russo said. “And now we’re full-force up and running

A small section of Rite Aid was gutted, repaired and reopened as a make-shift pharmacy for people with prescriptions. Running off a generator, the store serviced not just Howard Beach residents, but people from Rockaway and Breezy Point, along with relief workers from FEMA and other organizations.

Four weeks after the storm, Rite Aid was completely back up and running on Thursday, November 29. The store beat its planned deadline of reopening by Monday, December 3. Because Duane Reade has completely closed and it is unknown when CVS will reopen, Russo said Rite Aid has covered most of the business in Howard Beach — adding that it has been busy but manageable.

“Duane Reade closed up and we bought their prescriptions out,” she said. “This store is the only store for the community…you’ve got to come in here to buy anything.”