Tag Archives: flower shop

125-year-old East Elmhurst flower shop blossoms next to controversial homeless shelter

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

For more than a century, one East Elmhurst family has been helping their neighborhood bloom.

Donhauser Florist, located at 71-01 Astoria Blvd., was established in 1889 by Hans Donhauser, a German florist who immigrated to the United States. While working at a Brooklyn cemetery he heard that St. Michael’s Cemetery in Queens was in need of a florist.

He then moved to East Elmhurst and built a greenhouse on 71st Street and Astoria Boulevard. After a few years, 12 more greenhouses were added and a flower shop was built on 49th Street and Astoria Boulevard.

Donhauser’s family worked at the shop, including his sons, daughters and even his great granddaughter Gladys.

“When your parents are in the business, you’re in the business,” said Gladys about working at the shop since she was 12 years old. “It’s all I’ve known.”

Donhauser Florist moved to 71-01 Astoria Blvd. and replaced one existing greenhouse, while the other 12 were later sold to become the Westway Motor Inn.

Gladys, who grew up at the house currently still standing next to the shop, has owned the store since 1977 together with her husband William Gray, who initially started working at the 49th Street shop.

Since then the Grays have been providing flower arrangements for their neighbors, some of whom they have shared first communions with and years later, weddings. William even arranged all the flowers for his own wedding.

The shop provides flowers for visitors to St. Michael’s Cemetery, located across the Grand Central Parkway, first communions, weddings and other special occasions.

However, the Grays, who have been married for 60 years, say business has been up and down ever since the city’s Department of Homeless Services decided to first use the Westway Motor Inn, located right next door, as a temporary homeless shelter.

“It was once an exquisite hotel with beautiful rooms and a pool,” Gladys said. “Since about a decade ago we started to have problems with it. People were afraid to come around the shop.”

Two weeks ago, the city approved converting the motel into a permanent homeless shelter housing more than 120 families.

Although they are nervous on how the permanent shelter will affect the community and their business, the couple continues to welcome customers with smiles on their faces.

“I hope it stays for 125 more years,” Gladys said.



Astoria flower shop forced to move after 92 years

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

After providing Astoria with flower arrangements for close to a century, Teddy’s Florist has been pruned from the place it called home.

Since 1922, Teddy’s Florist stood at 22-41 31st St. providing all kinds of floral arrangements. Originally owned by the Kostakis family, the shop was sold in 1984 to George Stelios and his sister Clare Petropoulos, who continued the business.

“You couldn’t ask for better landlords. They were very reasonable, friendly and easy to communicate with,” Stelios said. “[Peter Kostakis] actually told us we were more like family to him.”

However, three years ago property owner Peter Kostakis decided it was time to retire and looked to sell. After other potential buyers fell through, Kostakis sold the property to Botsaris Morris Realty Group.

Then, according to Stelios, Peter Botsaris of the realty group gave the family a call last Christmas Eve and asked them to vacate the shop by the first week of January. Stelios’ sister responded by asking to wait until after New Year’s Day, which Botsaris allegedly did but was in the store the day after New Year’s trying to get them out.

“He told us he didn’t need our measly monthly rent,” Stelios said.

According to the family, Botsaris raised the rent 400 percent and after taking Botsaris to court, it was decided the family had to move out of the location by the end of May. On May 17, the brother and sister vacated the location and went on to find a new home for the business.

A couple of days after, a friend told them about a vacant location at 21-75 35th St., which used to be a pastry shop, and they decided it was a perfect fit.

“It was like a blessing. It was very hard because we couldn’t find anything while we were still there [at the old location],” Stelios said.

For Stelios’ fiancée, Astoria resident Sophia Christofides, seeing the empty storefront hit close to her heart because as a young teen she would always pass by shop.

“It’s sad. Teddy’s is like a landmark, it’s like a memory as you’re growing up and being that it’s not there it’s just sad,” Christofides said.

Still, while going through some renovations and in the process of installing a refrigerator to keep the flowers fresh, the family has handed out flyers and started to spread the news of their new location. Customers have already come by and business is starting to bloom once again, according to Stelios.

“It’s bittersweet and in the beginning it was a little scary. We feel a little excited because it’s a change. A lot of people have been welcoming us here,” he said. “We become friends with our customers. We aren’t like any other florists — we have personality and with us it’s friendship,”

According to Department of Building records, an application has been submitted to turn 22-41 31st St. into a restaurant.

Calls to both the restaurant’s owners and Botsaris Morris Realty Group were not returned as of press time.