Tag Archives: Forest Hills

Last surviving Ramones member, Ridgewood resident dies

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

The last surviving original member of the punk-rock band The Ramones, Tommy Ramone, died at his Ridgewood home Friday, according to published reports. He was 65 years old.

The drummer, whose real name was Thomas Erdelyi, had reportedly been in hospice and battling bile duct cancer.

Erdelyi was originally from Hungary and raised in Forest Hills, where he attended Forest Hills High School with the band’s other three founding members, Dee Dee (Douglas Colvin), Johnny (John Cummings) and Joey (Jeffrey Hyman) Ramone.

He performed on the band’s first three albums and was later replaced by drummer Marky (Marc Bell) Ramone. He then went on to concentrate on producing, reports said.



Judge overturns ‘cannibal cop’ conviction, grants release: reports

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Updated 3:10 p.m.

The conviction of the Queens man known as “cannibal cop” in a scheme to kidnap, kill and eat women has been overturned, allowing for his release Tuesday, according to published reports.

Gilberto Valle was found guilty last March for conspiracy to commit kidnapping and accessing a federal government computer database without authorization. Late Monday Judge Paul G. Gardephe of Federal District Court in Manhattan acquitted Valle of the kidnapping conspiracy, the New York Times reported.

The former NYPD officer, who had yet to be sentenced, in the case, faced life in prison on the kidnapping charge. The judge upheld the second count, and which carried a sentence of up to a year in prison, the Times said.

Valle, who had been in prison since his arrest in late 2012, was granted his release on $100,000 bond Tuesday, and ordered to home detention at his mother’s Queens home, reports said. He was also ordered to wear an electronic monitoring anklet, prohibited from using the Internet and will need to keep away from his victims.

According to the New York Daily News, Valle will also be required to undergo mental health treatment.

“I want to take the opportunity to apologize to everyone who’s been hurt, shocked and offended by my infantile actions,”  Valle said to the media after walking out of court later that afternoon, according to the Daily News.

During the trail, it was argued that the six-year NYPD veteran and Forest Hills resident improperly used a federal law enforcement database to look up information on his possible targets.

FBI agents also provided evidence of Valle’s “sick web chats with fellow fetishists” and Internet searches, including “recipes for human flesh” and “how to chloroform a girl.” He not only researched ways to kidnap and cook his victims but also carried out surveillance of them, the Times reported.

While prosecutors were trying to prove his actions went beyond “fantasy role play,” the defense argued the opposite.

Judge Gardephe agreed with the defense in his opinion, writing “once the lies and the fantastical elements are stripped away, what is left are deeply disturbing misogynistic chats and emails written by an individual obsessed with imagining women he knows suffering horrific sex-related pain, terror and degradation.

“Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle’s deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient — standing alone — to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping,” according to the Times.

Prosecutors are planning on appealing the acquittal, reports said.



44 years of deliciousness at The Family Restaurant

| padler@queenscourier.com


For decades, whenever I go to Forest Hills I head to The Family Restaurant, offering Italian cuisine and crispy-crusted pizza, on bustling Queens Boulevard for lunch and dinner, and I’m happy to report to you that it is as good as ever.

The wood-paneled decor with linen-covered tables is warm and inviting. On one wall are the pizza ovens and on another is a fully stocked bar with a large selection of wines and beer for every taste and budget. The well-spaced tables with flowers make the room intimate. In the rear is a private room for parties of up to 50 people.

But as with any restaurant, the food and ambiance are important, but the welcoming staff is critical. This restaurant has it all. The owner, Robert, can be seen greeting guests many evenings and the manager, Peter, there for decades, ensures your comfort. The professional waiters have also been in place truly making you feel like they’re extended family.

They have survived the very fickle restaurant industry trend of turnover and short life by providing consistently excellent food for 44 years!

The day I visited I sampled their crispy thin-crust pizza made with creamy mozzarella cheese and luscious rich tomatoes. There are multiple choices for toppings but I’m a purist and like it this way. But they offer a “pizetta” size so each guest can have his or her personal favorite. My friends had the meatball with mushrooms and onions. Both mouthwatering.

But that’s just the start. I chose my favorite entree, salmon filet grilled and prepared just how I like it, medium rare and accompanied by my choice of vegetables. Most of the entrees are offered with salad or pasta. There are over a dozen different pastas to choose from and in fact my guests chose rigatoni and fagioli and linguine in a vodka sauce with shrimp as their main courses. Each one was perfectly prepared and so large a portion that each of them took home the leftovers.

From steaks to poultry to veal to fish there’s something for everyone at reasonable prices. For a more informal meal, there are overstuffed hero sandwiches starting at $6.50 and the whole pizza starts at $6.00 with a large Sicilian pie at $16.00 that a whole family could share. They even offer customized pizza by the slice.

Of course no meal is complete without dessert, and here they offer their famous homemade cheesecake, cannoli and rum cake. For the tartufo fans they serve it surrounded by rich whipped cream. There is also a selection of sherbets, too. A delicious finish to an authentic Italian meal.

For those living within a few miles there is free delivery available and curbside delivery of take-out orders. Although it’s a challenging area for parking they solved the problem with valet parking Monday through Sunday. They are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. and weekends until midnight. So try it, you’ll love it, too.

The Family Restaurant
110-80 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills



Identify this place in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next Friday.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: Austin Street in Forest Hills 

John Messer stops bid for state Senate

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy John Messer

Oakland Gardens lawyer John Messer is dropping his third bid to unseat 14-year veteran state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky in District 16, which includes Flushing, Bayside, Forest Hills and Fresh Meadows, among other areas.

“I look forward to continuing to work together to make our community a better place to work and live. However, for personal and business reasons, I will not be a candidate in this election season,” said Messer, who announced his decision through a press release on June 9.

Messer, who holds a master’s degree in government and politics from St. John’s University, ran an unsuccessful race against Stavisky in the 2012 Democratic Primary, losing the race to the incumbent after receiving 41.9 percent of the vote. The Queens Courier reported in 2012 that Messer spent $351,000 of his own money in the campaign.

Messer hoped two years ago that the redrawn District 16, which included a 53 percent Asian population, would give him an advantage, since his wife is Chinese-American, and because the primary was just a head-to-head battle between the candidates.

Messer’s first attempt in 2010 was a three-way primary election with Isaac Sasson, a retired professor and cancer researcher.

“We’re not ruling out a run in the future,” Messer said. “We have so much support in the community now, everyone knows we are here to stay.”



NYC Dance Week offers free, discounted classes in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo: Anna I. Kuzmina

NYC Dance Week, a 10-day festival of free and discounted dance, fitness and wellness classes from June 19 to June 28, offers instruction in a variety of traditions–from modern dance, bhangra and capoeira to ballet, hip-hop and soca, plus classes in yoga, pilates and zumba.

Studios offering free dance classes in Queens include Dancing Feet in Forest Hills and Vibez Studio and Pilates Bodies NY in Flushing. Dancing Feet is also offering discounted classes.

Click here to see all the free classes and the discounted classes here.

Required registration for NYC Dance Week Passes is open online here.

Sponsor Harkness Center for Dance Injuries is also hosting two informative learning events for Dance Week participants. On Thursday, June 19 at 2:30 p.m., Harkness will offer an Injury Prevention Seminar at the Peridance Capezio Center in Manhattan, and on Monday, June 23 at 4:00 p.m., participants can attend a Health & Wellness Q&A Session at Gibney Dance Center in Manhattan. Attendees may also sign-up for free Injury Prevention Assessments during the festival.

Additionally, participants are also invited to watch performances of new dance works at a special showcase by its sister project, NYC10, at Dixon Place in Manhattan on Wednesday, June 25.



Suspect robs Forest Hills video game store: cops

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

An armed suspect took $250 from a Forest Hills video game store on June 6, police said.

The robbery took place at about 10:20 a.m. at a GameStop located on 71st Avenue near Queens Boulevard, according to officials.

After entering the business, the suspect displayed a gun, then took the cash from an opened safe underneath the counter before fleeing, cops said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.



Man sexually abuses woman in Forest Hills apartment building: cops

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for a man who sexually abused a woman after following the 47-year-old into her Forest Hills apartment building Tuesday.

The attack happened about 6:55 p.m. near Queens Boulevard and 76th Road, cops said.

The suspect followed the woman into her building, where he grabbed the victim from behind and sexually abused her, then threw her to the ground before fleeing, police said.

The victim suffered minor injuries to her right arm and knee, and was treated at Elmhurst Hospital.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.


Forest Hills restaurant makes the pitch for Citi Field

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A Queens restaurant is vying against two other New York City businesses for a chance to serve food in Citi Field this baseball season.

Corfu Grill has been serving Greek flavor for 10 years in Forest Hills and the owner, Georgios Aspiotis, hopes to bring the food of his hometown of Corfu to Mets fans. Citi Field announced the competition on May 23 and anyone can vote for one of the three restaurants. The competition ends on June 6 and the winner will be announced before the start of the July 5 home game against the Texas Rangers.

“I’m a winner,” Aspiotis said while drinking iced Greek coffee­—a stronger version of regular coffee with the coffee grounds in the cup­—in his Austin Street restaurant. “People will be coming to the games just to eat my food.”

Having created the menu himself, Aspiotis is proud of all of the dishes but for a baseball game, the gyros and chicken kebabs are his dingers.

“Most people eat hot dogs at a game,” he said. “I’m going to give them something better and it’s still portable. Gyros are like hot dogs. You have the bread on the outside and the meat inside.

But there’s also so much more inside our gyros that people will love.”

Sports fans are not the only people to declare the food a hit.

“I’m a big fan,” said Millie Lloyd, a Forest Hills resident. “I love the food.”

Lloyd spoke as she ate a chicken kebab plate in Corfu Grill. The meal, Aspiotis said, is one of the best sellers and if he wins, he plans to put them on a skewer at a stadium concession stand that will be provided for him free of charge for the duration of this season.

Aspitotis’ confidence isn’t misplaced. He is currently leading the competition with 44 percent of the votes. Lady M Confections, a pastry shop in Manhattan, has 30 percent, and Ceetay, a sushi restaurant in the Bronx, wis in last place with 24 percent.

To vote, click here.



Tractor-trailer fatally hits man in Forest Hills Key Food parking lot

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

A 67-year-old man was killed in Forest Hills Wednesday morning after a tractor-trailer struck him as it was backing up in a Key Food parking lot, police said.

The victim, identified as Elliot Mintzer of Forest Hills, was walking in the back parking lot of the supermarket, on 64th Road near Yellowstone Boulevard, about 9:15 a.m. when he was struck by the trailer’s rear tires, cops said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver, who was making deliveries at the time, remained at the scene, according to officials.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.




EXCLUSIVE: Forest Hills woman to head top men’s tailoring company

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Famed tailor Mohan Ramchandani overcame the odds to become a success in the men’s custom tailoring business.

Today his 42-year-old Mohan’s Custom Tailors sits in One Grand Central across from the century-old train terminal, and he is recognized for making suits for former mayors Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch, and for various basketball stars, including former Knicks star center Patrick Ewing.

It’s an American Dream come true story that involves learning the trade in Hong Kong and emigrating from India to America with just $200 in his pocket.

Ramchandani will step down as president soon after some recent trouble with the law, and the company will announce that his 26-year-old daughter — a Queens native and Forest Hills resident — Roma Ramchandani will take his place, bringing its own set of challenges. She will become a woman at the forefront of the male tailoring industry, which is still largely dominated by men.

“I’m pretty confident, I’ve been part of this business for so long and I think I’ve overcome a lot of adversity already and I just keep charging forward,” Roma told The Courier in an exclusive interview. “Yeah, I’m nervous but at the same time I’m just really super excited. While this company is up and growing and successful there is just so much more I can still do with it.”

When Roma was a young girl, she often used to go to her father’s tailoring business and watch the employees mend men’s clothes.

It lit a fire in her. For as long as she could remember, she has had a passion for fashion — and making clothes. Overall, she is an art person. In her late teens, Roma, an alum of St. Francis Preparatory School, started working part-time in the shop.

Roma is a 2009 Adelphi University graduate with a communications degree and a focus on filmmaking. Her hobbies include making documentaries and collecting over-the-head headphones, which she sometimes uses to match with her suits.

Her extensive knowledge of tailoring is a result of tutelage under her father, but her main conflict will be leading the company as a female in a largely male industry.

Working at Mohan’s in the past, she has encountered some men — especially older ones — who are skeptical of her knowledge of male fashion and tailoring. But she feels she can use that as an advantage over competitors.

“I kind of like to think that I have some kind of special ingredient as a woman with a women’s perspective on fashion,” Roma said. “If they are not here with their wives or girlfriends and they are on their own, I have that perspective and I can steer them in the right direction.”

Mohan was sentenced in March to one year and one day in prison for tax evasion, but the company is still popular.

Hall of Fame basketball player and Knicks broadcaster Walt “Clyde” Frazier orders his famed flashy suits from Mohan’s.

And with a fabric selection of about 10,000 and numerous colors and accessories, Mohan’s can make just about any suit for anyone. Roma wants continue advancing the growth and clientele of the store, and she sees primetime commercials in Mohan’s future.

“I would love to see our billboard in Times Square,” Roma said. “I think it’s really important to dream big.”


Step 1: Talk with tailor about the uses for the suit and where you would wear it. With Mohan’s you can even bring in a picture of a celebrity’s suit for them to remake. However, first-time customers should come with an open mind.
Step 2: Style selection. View different fabrics, collars, cuffs and colors. First-timers should start with a solid blue or gray.
Step 3: In this step customers would have their measurements taken. Today a fitted, tapered English style is hot.
Step 4: Then there is customization. Mohan’s can add extra pockets, special monograms and buttons, just about anything.
Step 5: The final step is, of course, to wait for Mohan’s to make the suit. The company has a two-week turnaround.


In the evolution of fashion trends come and go. Here are two of Roma’s picks for those looking to stay up-to-date.

Spread collars, such as what singer and actor Justin Timberlake has been recently seen with, are trending now.

Alligator skin belts are also in style.




MTA to increase M train service in the fall

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Some of the growing neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens are getting a much needed service boost.

The MTA just announced it plans to increases service to the L and M subway lines this fall, based on analysis of schedules and increased ridership demand.

The service increase will be as follows:

  • On Saturday L train service will be increased a total of 33 round trips between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • On Sunday L train services will be increased a total of 23 round trips between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Weekday evening L service will be increased a total of 3 round trips
  • Weekday M service will increase one round trip – one northbound trip in the morning and one southbound trip in the late afternoon

In order to lower wait times during peak periods, there will also be increased M line service on Forest Hills-bound weekday morning and Metropolitan Ave- bound weekday afternoon trains.

The service changes, which are scheduled for the fall of this year, will cost about $1.7 million annually. M line service changes will be simultaneous with the Superstorm Sandy-related restoration of R line service.

For up-to-date information, visit www.mta.info.



Cops looking for suspect in Forest Hills pizzeria burglary

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for a burglar who they say stole cash from a Forest Hills pizzeria last week by breaking into the business through a rooftop window.

The burglary took place about 2 a.m.  on May 6 at 71-37 Austin St.,  cops said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.



Former Parkway Hospital will be converted to condos

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Jasper Venture Group

Follow me @liamlaguerre


After being shuttered for six years, the site of the former Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills will be converted to a residential building.

Jasper Venture Group, a real estate investment firm, announced on May 7 that it plans to demolish the former hospital at 70-35 113th St. and construct a bigger building than the 70,000-square-feet property.

Including a parking lot, the site is more than 107,000 square feet.

The company did not release how many units the new building will have or when it is set to be complete, but said the new residential space will “breathe new life into the idle site.”

“The additional housing this project will provide when complete will be a relief to those seeking a more spacious option to the compact living New York City provides,” the company said in a release. “[T]he former Parkway Hospital will be luxurious, offering its residents a view of the lakes and their own slice of serenity.”

Parkway Hospital overlooks Grand Central Parkway and rests just outside of both Willow Lake and Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The state closed the hospital in 2008 and it has been vacant since. The hospital filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

Former Parkway CEO Robert Aquino was sentenced to four months in jail in May of 2012 after he pleaded guilty to bribing former State Senator Carl Kruger to try to keep the medical facility open.



Pedestrian killed while crossing Queens Boulevard

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A woman was fatally struck on Queens Boulevard as she was crossing the roadway in Forest Hills Saturday night, cops said.

The victim, who was in her 60s, was near 71st Avenue about 10:30 p.m. when she was hit by a Chevrolet Malibu, police said. She was taken to Jamaica Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

According to an initial investigation, the accident happened while the victim was crossing in the marked crosswalk against the traffic light, officials said.

The driver remained on the scene and there were no arrests made. The investigation is ongoing.