Tag Archives: Maspeth

Osteria Italiana: For a real Italian experience


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Looking for real Italian food, but can’t go to Italy? Then how about Maspeth?

Osteria Italiana, which loosely translates to “Italian restaurant,” opened up over the summer on 61st Street near Grand Avenue with a familiar face.

Head chef and part-owner Michael Zampitelli, who is an Italian native turned Maspeth resident, brings nearly 40 years of Italian cooking experience to the neighborhood. Zampitelli owned a popular restaurant in nearby Glendale, which was forced to close in 2008 due to high rental costs.

Zampitelli, who has worked in the restaurant business starting as a teenager in Rome, wants to bring affordable, authentic Italian food to the neighborhood with Osteria.

Chicken cordon bleu

“Everywhere you go in the city, the neighborhoods are mixed. You can find everything,” Zampitelli said. “Personally I think in Maspeth there are no real Italian restaurants. You find diners and pizzerias, but no real Italian restaurants.”

Aside from Zampitelli’s extensive Italian cooking experience, Osteria’s food is authenticated by the ingredients, such as cheeses and olive oil, which are imported directly from Italy.

The menu at Osteria is wide and can satisfy many taste buds.

Starters include soups, salads and appetizers. One appetizer, the eggplant parmigiana, is covered with fresh mozzarella and Parmigiano cheese with a savory marinara sauce.

Spaghetti alla carbonara 

Entrees include a range of pastas, chicken, veal and fish dishes.

Zampitelli’s spaghetti alla carbonara is a masterpiece at $11.95, for those not watching their waistline. The pasta dish is a mix of pecorino cheese, a creamy sauce and bits of bacon.

The chicken cordon bleu, at $14.95, is a hefty meal with big pieces of tender chicken, served with mushrooms and mashed potatoes.

Desserts on the menu include an Italian cheesecake with ricotta cheese and tiramisu, along with other Italian classics. And of course wines, such as merlot, are on the menu as well.

With Zampitelli’s return, some of his long-time customers have followed him to Osteria. He believes it’s because of the quality of his food and the friendly way he treats his patrons.

“Everyone who comes here we treat like family, that’s why they’ve follow me for many, many years,” Zampitelli said.

Osteria Italiana
57-57 61st Street, Maspeth
718-894-4391
Hours: Monday-Sunday Noon-11 p.m.
Cash only
Wheelchair accessible
Delivery

 

MORE DINING PROFILES

 

O’Neill’s restaurant in Maspeth celebrates 80th anniversary


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Janet Burt recalled she first went to O’Neill’s, the popular Maspeth bar and restaurant, when she was 19 years old.

So naturally Burt, 54, missed the eatery when she moved to Virginia, and much like the community was distraught to find out about the tragic fire two years ago, which caused O’Neill’s to close until this September.

When Burt heard about the neighborhood bistro’s 80th anniversary, she made sure to make the journey north to celebrate with old friends.

“When I heard about the 80th anniversary I said I had to show,” Burt said. “It’s awesome. It’s so different than it used to be. It was much smaller.”

Since the bar had its grand reopening, owners increased the size, expanded the fine dining menu, and added some more formal and private room space.

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley hosted a party in one of the private rooms to thank her staff and supporters, before presenting a plaque and proclamation to the restaurant from the City Council for the anniversary Wednesday.

“Everybody knows there was a big fire and it took down the walls, but it could never take down the memory,” Crowley said. “We’re so glad to be here today and celebrate 80 years. O’Neill’s has never looked better.”

Civic leaders and community residents came in droves to O’Neill’s celebration. They congratulated owners, but also enjoyed the special deals.

Because O’Neill’s was founded in 1933, a day after Prohibition was repealed, numerous beers returned to their 10 cent price from that era from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Additionally, four special cocktails were half price.

There were also free roast beef sandwiches, which is an O’Neill’s tradition on Friday nights, and DJ Johnny Guerrero was spinning music that spanned eight decades.

“As you can see by the turnout tonight, the neighborhood is happy we’re back and we’re just looking for another 80 years,” O’Neill’s manager Danny Pyle said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

‘Safe Routes’ coming to four Queens schools


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Safer streets are coming soon to four Queens middle and elementary schools.

The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) confirmed it has selected a construction company to make adjustments around the schools to increase safety, as a part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Safe Routes to Schools program.

The safe routes program is a city-wide initiative that seeks to improve safety to city schools with the highest accident rates.

A DDC representative said the $3.3 million improvements will begin by the spring of 2014 around I.S. 77 in Ridgewood, St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Maspeth, St. Joan of Arc School in Jackson Heights and P.S. 108 in South Ozone Park.

The work around the schools will include adding speed bumps, adjustment of streetlights and traffic signals, ramps to the sidewalks, work to improve the curbs for pedestrians, placement of bus pads in the streets and infrastructure and utility work.

These four schools are on DOT’s list of 135 priority schools for traffic safety improvements, which was originally created in 2003 by the city agency. Overall, there are 33 priority Queens schools on the list that are slated to see the improvements.

The work on the four schools is expected to be completed by the spring of 2015.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

220 Maspeth Duane Reade workers getting the ax


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Duane Reade is about to send half of its Maspeth warehouse workers packing.

The company, which has been a subsidiary of Walgreens since 2010, said it will lay off the unionized workers at its distribution center at 50-02 55th Avenue by next June.

The first round of cuts will begin on December 6 with 120 employees, and another 100 will be shown the door in April 2014, the company said. Currently, the company employs about 400 workers at the site.

“It was surprising because everything was going well,” said Michael Hayles, who has worked at the center for more than a year but will be laid off next month. “Hopefully, I’ll find another job.”

The distribution center has been in service since 1998 and steadily increased in operation.

But because of the increase, the company said that the building is too small, the ceiling height is too low and they would not be able to expand at the site.

“We are making these changes in Maspeth because the physical design of this distribution center is not up to standards necessary for a state-of-the art distribution system that is efficient, effective and customer responsive,” the company said in a statement.
Because the workers are members of the union Teamsters Local 210, they were able to get a severance package.

Duane Reade has agreed to pay the employees one week pay for each year they have worked at the center, as well as time-and-a-half for sick days and personal days.

The company has also hosted job fairs at the center and is scheduling workers for interviews with other employers. However, many say they are still searching for new options.

“It’s frustrating because no matter how much of an injustice you see it to be, there’s nothing you can do about it because the laws allow it,” a spokesperson from the union said.

 

RECOMMENDED

O’Neill’s: Classy, right outside your door


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Revitalized O’Neill’s restaurant and bar is ready to serve all lads and lassies looking to O’verindulge.

After reopening in September following a devastating fire two years ago, the Maspeth neighborhood favorite has increased its fine dining options, and brought in world-renowned chef Richard Burns.

Restaurant owners rebuilt the beloved bar section, but expanded areas for fine dining and private parties with a range of tasty and classy offerings on the menu.

“In this economy, in this day and age, we can target different areas from steak house, fine dining to a sports grill,” manager Danny Pyle said. “Put that all together and it’s just a fun, happening spot.”

The bar at O’Neill’s, which is known for its stellar wings and burgers, has many TV screens to catch the biggest sports moments and numerous beer offerings for any fan to enjoy.

But beyond the bar is a room for formal dining, which has more space between tables, softer lighting and no TVs, providing for a fine dining atmosphere much like some of the top eateries in the city.

Everything from appetizers to entrees, to soups and drinks, bring a level of dining not usually found in the neighborhood.

Appetizers include thick slices of applewood smoked slab bacon drenched in a sweet sauce, Maryland crab cakes with seaweed and irresistible roasted garlic bread blanketed by aged Gorgonzola cheese. Soups, such as a savory New England corn clam chowder and rich lobster bisque, are also on the menu.

Entrees range from salmon to steaks. The mouth-watering salmon is served on top of sautéed leaf spinach, while tender and sweet prime rib lamb chops on the bone are served with crunchy vegetables and hash brown potatoes. And to top the menu are thick cuts of succulent porterhouse steak with onion rings, potato and creamed spinach on the side.

“I thought about what did people like about O’Neill’s, what were the best things about O’Neill’s, and decided ‘let’s bring that back. And what else new can we add to the table?’” Pyle said, “That’s the fine dining.”

O’Neill’s
64-21 53rd Drive, Maspeth
718-672-9696
Open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. and
Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.

 

MORE DINING PROFILES

 

Incumbent Elizabeth Crowley comes out on top after tough challenge


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley will return to the City Council after overcoming a stiff challenge from candidate Craig Caruana.

The councilmember celebrated the win with supporters and family members at her victory party at Woodhaven House in Middle Village, after the race initially seemed close.

“This has been a long campaign, but the people of the 30th council district have spoken tonight,” Crowley said, “and guess what? They want to send me back to city hall.”

Crowley won nearly 59 percent of the vote, according to early polling numbers, while Caruana took about 41 percent, a gap of approximately 3,000 votes.

Crowley has served District 30, which encompasses Maspeth, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood and parts of Woodhaven and Woodside for nearly four years, tackling issues from education, traffic and preventing firehouse closures.

The race against Caruana was initially one sided in the incumbent’s favor, but following an endorsement from mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and a feisty debate, Caruana, a political newbie, gained some traction.

“[Caruana] ran a good campaign,” Crowley said. “ I think that when you have a challenge it makes you work harder.”

Early results from polling sites showed Crowley only leading by about five percent, but that number gradually started to expand. Now with the election behind her she plans to get back on track with key issues.

“I want to improve transportation,” Crowley said. “Queens is growing and so is the 30th council district.”

Caruana, who was confident he could unseat Crowley, conceded and talked to his supporters at Collony’s Corner in Maspeth.

“There are serious losses that you take in life and this isn’t one of them,” he said. “If you expend yourself in fighting for something that you really believe in and you expend yourself sometimes in struggle, especially what you put your heart into, you can’t lose.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Despite setbacks, Maspeth Knockdown Center determined to host events


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center is not backing down.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) recently reviewed and disapproved the center’s plan for a Place of Assembly Certificate of Operation (PA) on October 24, but Knockdown’s manager said they will tweak their proposal until it meets regulations.

The PA is required for a site that seeks to have 75 or more people gathered indoors or more than 200 outside.

“We are committed to ensuring we have the optimal building plan from the DOB perspective, and have found the plan reviews very helpful, and believe that our plans will be approved soon,” said Tyler Myers, the center’s manager.

The Knockdown Center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties and even a mini-golf art exhibition, since last year.

The center became a hot controversial community issue after a representative announced they were considering applying for a license from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol at future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

At the Community Board 5 October meeting, the Land Use Committee rejected granting a liquor license for the center, although Knockdown could still make a case to the SLA for the license.

Residents and politicians in the community are split on the center, some feeling that it could bring jobs and is a good use of the more than century-year old building. Others believe it will create a club environment in a neighborhood where many residents live.

“There is some evidence of people being carried out, a lot of evidence of people partying and loud music, and there is evidence of love making right in the open,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“We’re concerned that it will lower the quality of life.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Elizabeth Crowley, Craig Caruana face off in heated District 30 debate


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

The first public debate between Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Craig Caruana was contentious.

The competitors faced off in a heated exchange on Monday. It was marked by frequent interruptions, yelling on both sides and cheers and jeers from attending residents of District 30, which includes Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, Glendale, parts of Woodhaven and Woodside.

The debate, which The Courier co-hosted, was organized by the Juniper Park Civic Association at Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village.

The showdown exploded from the very first question, which was about the Knockdown Center, a controversial arts hall in Maspeth that has hosted parties and is seeking a liquor license.

Crowley, who is in support of the center, said it will bring jobs and arts to the community.

“Do I support good jobs? Yes. Do I support arts as an economic engine? Yes,” Crowley said. “Now my opponent you will hear opposes this, and I believe it’s because he doesn’t have the ability to think outside the box when it comes to creating jobs.”

Caruana doesn’t believe the center will be used for arts, but as a club based on past parties that it has held.

“It’s not about jobs, it’s about hipsters coming from out of the area, creating a problem…” Caruana said. “This is a club that wants to sell liquor.”

The candidates sparred on various contentious projects in the community, such as the proposed Glendale homeless shelter, truck traffic and the Maspeth Bypass, the Ridgewood Reservoir development project and increased railroad garbage.

Many general questions were asked as well, including how the candidates would improve education, traffic problems, quality of life issues and decrease crime.

Crowley, who has been the councilmember for nearly four years, choose to answer questions based on her accomplishments, while taking jabs at Caruana.

Caruana, who has no experience as an elected official, stuck to his ideas to improve the neighborhood, relying on his background as a native of Middle Village and his work at the Pentagon.

Before the debate even got started crowds of Crowley and Caruana supporters were chanting at each other outside with placards, banners and megaphones for almost 20 minutes.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Op-Ed: Where are we one year later?


| oped@queenscourier.com

BY STATE SENATOR JOSEPH ADDABBO JR.

On any particular day, whether I’m working, getting a cup of coffee, shopping or having dinner in the district, people detail their experiences involving Superstorm Sandy in many different ways. A year later, many still get tears in their eyes, others remain frustrated about the lack of progress, while some see it as a chance to make improvements and some are optimistic about community improvements. One storm, a year later, still causes many emotions.

While we can’t control the weather, we can take steps to control the level of our preparedness and what direction our government takes in addressing the next storm. We’ve learned a lot from Sandy, and I would urge my constituents to think ahead and make sure they have detailed emergency plans in place: know how to contact one another in case of an emergency; have adequate supplies of canned goods, medicines, batteries, flashlights and water on hand; know what to do to help secure your homes and properties to minimize risks during a storm. Useful hurricane preparedness information may be found at this NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/event/hurricane-safety.cfm.

I, along with other elected officials, have been advocating for adequate funding and needed legislation to help the district address the many serious human, economic and other consequences resulting from Sandy. As a member of the New York State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy, I look forward to continuing the effort of our state in responding to Sandy’s devastation and obtaining assistance for those in need.  Currently, our city’s and state’s portion of the federal funding of $61 billion to help Sandy victims is being distributed through NYC Build It Back program, and the state’s utilization of community leaders in its NY Rising Community Reconstruction program aimed at improving our infrastructure.

A range of bills aimed at addressing various aspects of Sandy’s impact were passed by the state legislature and have been recently signed into law by the governor. Some topics include rebates of real property taxes, assisting Breezy Point residents with street frontage issues unique to Breezy Point, exemptions to filing fees related to federal Small Business Administration Disaster Loans, and the implementation of improved tornado warning systems.

This year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season is not yet over. We have learned a lot from Sandy and a year later are still dealing with its aftermath. It’s OK to share our emotions, feelings and sentiments about Sandy, knowing also that by working together we can rebuild and be prepared better than ever.

Senator Joseph Addabbo represents the 15th Senatorial District encompassing the communities – in whole or in part – of Broad Channel, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Glendale, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Woodside and the Rockaways.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Maspeth residents and leaders are split over arts center


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

Maspeth leaders and residents are ready to rumble over the Knockdown Center.

The center, a former glass and door factory turned arts hall, has hosted everything from weddings, Tiki Disco parties and even a mini-golf art exhibition since last year. Now, owners are applying for a license from the State’s Liquor Authority (SLA) to serve alcohol for future events at the 52-19 Flushing Avenue site.

But the center has recently come under fire from local leaders and residents, including Assemblymember Cathy Nolan, Senator Michael Gianaris, City Council candidate Craig Caruana and civic organizations, such as Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET).

“Bringing the arts to our neighborhood is good, but it’s a terrible idea to allow a club to serve alcohol to 600 to 5,000 people at dance parties, raves and concerts right across the street from residents’ homes,” Caruana said.

The industrial castle-like building in which the Knockdown Center operates is more than a century old.

Owners redid some of the inside and installed new windows, but kept most of it original so as to preserve the structure.
The immediate neighborhood consists of other manufacturing buildings and residential apartments.

Musical events will be held in the center and owners plan to host a flea market every Sunday  from Oct. 20. Some feel the facility has potential.

“I’m not against it right now as it stands,” said Anthony Nunziato, chair of civic group Maspeth-Middle Village Task Force. “I like the structure. I just want to make sure it’s workable in the community. It’s a place that’s been vacant in the community for years. By right, they can take it down and turn it into condos.”

Gary Giordano, Community Board 5 district manager, said as of last week he had not received any complaints of past Knockdown Center events. Giordano did say that owners may need to take into account transportation, security and respect for the community for future events.

The center, which officials said has been operating under temporary permits, is in the process of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy from the Department of Buildings. Max attendance at past events was about 800 people, said Tyler Myers, Knockdown Center manager, but owners estimate it can hold 8,000 people.

“We are working with them to discover what a workable capacity would be for the building that we would also feel comfortable operating,” Myers said. “I think the Knockdown Center represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring something really unique and really special to Maspeth certainly, but also the New York community at large.”

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who also represents Maspeth, is in full support of the center, saying that it could bring economic growth.

“Manufacturing has been moving out of that area, a lot of those buildings are just warehouses and are not producing many jobs,” Crowley said. “I only see that it brings a benefit in creating good jobs.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

 

 

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: Overcast in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 64. Breezy. Winds from the NE at 15 to 20 mph. Wednesday night: Overcast in the evening, then mostly cloudy with a chance of rain. Low of 55. Winds from the NE at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Arms and the Man

One of George Bernard Shaw’s most beloved plays, Arms and the Man is a hilarious satire about the ironies of war and fallacies of romantic idealism. Performances will be at Long Island City’s Secret Theatre through October 13. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Norman Rockwell painting stolen in Maspeth

Police are asking for help finding a stolen Norman Rockwell painting. Read more: The Queens Courier

Undercover cop and civilian in motorcycle assault case arrested

An undercover NYPD officer and another civilian biker involved in the motorcycle assault case have been arrested. Read more: ABC New York

Scarsdale “Pot Mom” pleads guilty to running multimillion-dollar marijuana farm

A Westchester County mother of three pleaded guilty to running a multimillion-dollar marijuana-growing operating in a Queens warehouse. Read more: NBC New York

Documents: No weapon, motive found in car of Conn. woman in Capitol Hill chase

Police found no weapon or apparent evidence of motive while searching the car of a Stamford, Conn., woman who was fatally shot by police after trying to ram her vehicle through a White House barrier, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday. Read more: CBS New York/AP

Poll: GOP gets the blame in shutdown

Americans are holding Republicans primarily responsible for the partial government shutdown as public esteem sinks for all players in the impasse, President Barack Obama among them, according to a new poll. It’s a struggle with no heroes. Read more: AP

Norman Rockwell painting stolen in Maspeth


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated Wednesday, October 8 4:38 p.m.

Police are asking for your help in finding a $1 million Norman Rockwell painting that was stolen in Maspeth last month.

The painting was discovered missing from Grand Avenue’s Welpak Art Moving and Storage on September 13, said cops.

Entitled “Sport,” the painting is approximately 22X28 inches and is oil paint on canvass. It was housed in a wooden frame which is gold in color, and depicts a man in a row boat wearing a yellow rain jacket, holding a fishing pole.

It was painted in 1939 and is signed by Norman Rockwell on the lower right and was used as the Saturday Evening Post cover.

According to WelPak’s website, the company offers fine art shipping and climate-controlled services, including artwork and antique storage, and has experience working with museums, art galleries, foundations, private collectors and art dealers.

It advertises storage facilities that are “alarmed to ensure maximum protection and safety.”
A person who answered the phone at WelPak said “this is an ongoing investigation and we are not allowed to discuss [the missing painting] with anyone.”

“It’s very common for a work of high value to be put in storage to keep it from being damaged,” said Danielle Rahm, director at New York Fine Art Appraisers, one of the leading independent appraisers of the fine and decorative arts in the country.

There would be no reason to not rely on a fine art storage facility as a safe way to keep the painting, she said.

The stolen painting was sold from a private collector for $1,085,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York this May, according to published reports.

“It would be very difficult to resell it at a known public auction,” said Rahm.

Once a painting is stolen, it is typically registered with the Art Loss Register, she said. This database of stolen art provides information that can be checked if someone tries to consign a work.

But, said Rahm, “there’s always a black market” for stolen art work.

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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Maspeth street co-named George Gibbons Jr. Way


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

For the past few years teary eyes and frowns were a familiar sight when talking about the hit-and-run murder of Maspeth resident George Gibbons.

Gibbons, who owned Gibbons Home bar on 69th Street, was killed in a 2011 traffic accident and it took a month-long manhunt to catch his murderer, Peter Rodriguez.

But at a ceremony on Saturday to co-name the street where Gibbons grew up in his honor, there was a different emotion. Smiles and laughter spread throughout the crowd of family members and friends as Gibbon’s father, George Sr., tugged numerous times at the white sheet of paper covering the new street sign, but failed to pull it off. And then, with a big final heave, he jerked the sheet off the brand new George Gibbons Jr. Way sign to a roar of cheers from the audience.

“It’s a very special day for us, we’re very excited,” said Gibbons’ sister Siobhan McEntee. “We hope that this sign will be a reminder to people of a good community leader as well as the importance of traffic laws.”

Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, who drafted legislation to get the street co-named, the Gibbons family and more than a 100 friends attended the ceremony to pay tribute to the memory of the late Gibbons, who many said had one of the kindest hearts the world had ever known.

“He was like a brother. He would give you the shirt off his back,” said Tony Kalpin, Gibbons’ friend. “If you’re emotional and you’ve got something on your mind, he was the person you could go and talk to.”

Gibbons was killed on October 15, 2011 when the livery cab he was traveling in was struck by a car that Rodriguez was driving the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway service road. Gibbons was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. But Rodriguez left the scene of the accident and was on the run before he was caught in Connecticut.

Rodriguez was sentenced to three and a half to up to seven years in prison in May 2012 after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crime and negligent homicide.

Gibbons’ death brought the Maspeth community together and exposed dangerous loopholes in New York’s traffic laws. Since then the family and Crowley have been fighting to get tougher laws for leaving the scene of a crime.

“We’re just trying to make sure we are strengthening laws,” Crowley said. “[Rodriguez] was a coward and ran away, and had to be caught.”

Gibbon’s bar was closed down temporarily after his death, but reopened under family management. His memory runs through it and now his street sign as well.

“He’s definitely here,” McEntee said. “He’s definitely always around us, we know that.”


 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Popular Maspeth restaurant O’Neill’s is back in business


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Just about everyone in Maspeth remembers when O’Neill’s restaurant and bar was reduced to ashes after a grease fire in 2011.

It was a devastating moment for the community, as the popular bar has been a staple in the neighborhood since 1933.

After extinguishing the blaze, local firefighters found within the rubble, the American flag that had flown over the watering hole. They held on to it for more than two years and encased it in a plaque that was presented to the owners of O’Neill’s during the bar’s grand reopening on Friday.

“It’s nice that we are able to give a little something back to them,” said Captain Joe Gandiello of FDNY Rescue 4. “This place has been here for forever it seems and it’s just a nice touch. It’s all we can do.”

During the summer the owners were hinting at a comeback. They eventually had a soft opening for the bar a few weeks ago and delayed the full ceremony for September 27.  But even during the soft opening, the bar was packed.

“I’m not only happy for myself, I’m happy for the community, because evidently they have been waiting for us to open,” said owner George O’Neill. “The night we opened, when we opened the door you couldn’t get in here.”

Representatives from Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley and Congressmember Joe Crowley’s offices gave proclamations to the bar owners.

Just like it was before it was closed, the bar was bustling with so many local customers during its grand opening it was hard to walk around. Most came to the eatery because it was their favorite spot and to see old friends.

“It’s been gone for a long time,” said Tommy Young, a resident of Middle Village. “A lot of people used to get together here so I got to see a lot of people that I haven’t seen in a long time.”

Except for the fact that all the furniture and equipment is new, nothing has changed at O’Neill’s. There is still an area for fine dining, but also booths with mini TV screens for sports fans to watch what they want while they eat and of course the main bar in the center of the restaurant that anchors the bistro. The menu hasn’t change much either. There are still steaks, the popular Buffalo wings and brick-oven pizza.

There are more than 45 flat screen televisions around the bar and the owners have  added a catering room that can hold up to 200 people. They’ve also added a sprinkler system in the basement.

“Everything is pretty much brand new,” said manager Danny Pyle. “We’re thrilled to be able to serve the neighborhood. And they seem to feel the same way we do.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

 

 

Op-Ed: Ensuring the safety of our children


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER ELIZABETH CROWLEY

Drivers need to be more conscientious near schools. Just a few days ago, students of I.S. 73 in Maspeth got seriously injured by an out-of-control vehicle. As police investigate this accident, we owe it to those injured students and their classmates to make our streets safer.

Grand Avenue is a very busy street. The vehicular traffic is made worse during school arrival and dismissal time as P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are all located within six blocks of each other. I believe it is imperative to implement changes as soon as possible, and on Monday, along with PTA leaders, I met with Queens DOT Commissioner Dalila Hall on site to discuss how to make Grand Avenue safer.

The stretch of Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 is in need of “Safe Routes to School” program and a slowdown zone where the speed limit is reduced to 20 miles per hour. The safe routes program redesigns streets, which include expanding sidewalks, new lane paintings and improved signal timing, to ease congestion around schools.

Recently, the DOT studied vehicle speeds around all schools in New York City, and they found that 98 percent of vehicles driving around P.S. 58, I.S. 73 and Maspeth High School are going over the speed limit. This is dangerous and simply unacceptable. A comprehensive study by the DOT to change traffic patterns and slow down drivers through its “Safe Routes to School” program would be a major help in reducing congestion around these schools.

There must be constant traffic enforcement by the NYPD and DOT today. I have called on both agencies to ticket trucks that are not making local deliveries, and speeding drivers who are endangering our children must be stopped. New York recently approved speed camera enforcement at 20 schools in the city. Placing one of these cameras at Grand Avenue near P.S. 58 and I.S. 73 would certainly slow drivers down once tickets begin arriving in the mail.

Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our children traveling to and from school. I have brought the concerns of the community to DOT, and together, we must demand the DOT prioritize safety on Grand Avenue. Our most vulnerable and precious resource are our children, and we must do everything to keep them safe.

Elizabeth Crowley represents the 30th Council District, covering Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood and Woodhaven

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES