Tag Archives: Prohibition

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Because O’Neill’s was founded in 1933, a day after Prohibition was repealed, numerous beers returned to their 10 cent price from that era from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Additionally, four special cocktails were half price.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

 

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Biz owners blast sweetened beverage ban


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Is it the new Prohibition?

Queens business owners are against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposed ban of large sweetened beverages, reasoning that it would put a cap on their rights and water down sales.

Proprietors told Councilmember Julissa Ferreras this as she scanned four businesses near her East Elmhurst office, engaging them about the ban’s potential effects, in an event organized by the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices coalition on July 19.

“I think he [Bloomberg] is trying to approach obesity in the ways that he is being advised and I just think this one is ill-advised,” Ferreras said while standing in front a small deli.

The store is run by Rocio Galindo, a mother of three originally from Mexico, who said she put all her money into opening the shop last year and fears the proposed restriction could discourage patrons from shopping at her store.

“She put every egg in this basket to be able to survive,” Ferreras said, translating for Galindo.

If passed, what’s being called as the “soda ban” will halt the sale of sugary bottled and fountain drinks, such as teas, sodas and sports drinks, above 16 ounces in every store and restaurant with letter grades, movie theaters, sports venues, delis and food trucks and carts.

Diet sodas, calorie-free drinks, and drinks with at least 50 percent milk are exempted from the regulation.

“Although obesity is caused by a myriad of factors, there is a large body of evidence suggesting that a significant contributor to consumption of extra calories over the last three decades is the over-consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages,” said The Obesity Society, which commends the mayor’s initiative. “Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages are empty calories, because they are typically devoid of nutrients other than simple sugar.”

But members of the coalition and store owners argue that the prohibition is simply an abuse of power.

“The last time I checked this is a still a democracy,” said Miguel Reyes, a store owner. “This is not Russia; this is not Cuba, where government can tell you what you can drink or what you can do.”

“There is no research that links beverages directly to obesity,” said Liz Berman, a member of New Yorkers for Beverage Choices and president of Continental Food and Beverages. “Obesity is a very complex problem. It takes nutritional education, exercise and having the right choices.

The soda ban is just one of the mayor’s moves to shrink the city’s waist line.

Five years ago Bloomberg banned trans-fat in restaurants and a city-funded study released on July 17 proved it made the city healthier.

The city recently launched “Shop Healthy NYC,” a voluntary program to encourage stores to display health food prominently, and “Cut the Junk,” a plan to teach locals that cooking at home is healthier and less expensive than dining out.

However, what really bothers Ferreras is that the mayor’s proposal does not ban sugary drinks from stores across the board.

Supermarkets, bodegas, and pharmacies such as 7-Eleven or Rite Aid will be able to sell the huge drinks.

“It’s going to hurt me,” Abel Ahuatl, an immigrant store owner said. “I feel like some are going to come only for a sandwich, let’s say, and they are going to the bodega to get their drinks.”

There will be a public hearing about the soda ban in the City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) offices in Long Island City on July 24.

However, the mayor doesn’t need a public vote for the ban, just approval by the DOHMH to set the ban in effect.