Tag Archives: Queens Boulevard

Forest Hills restaurant expands menu to include Venezuelan food


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

With a family history that spans three continents, Ysabel Chang and her family are expanding the menu of their restaurant in Forest Hills to reflect their roots.

“We don’t look Venezuelan but we are. I consider myself to be Oriental and also Spanish,” Chang said. “So it’s all about the arepas for us.”

TuArepa Pizza Cafe opened last year near Queens Boulevard with a menu limited to pizza. But as the business grew and the family saved money, they recently expanded their menu to include arepas, a South American dish of cooked dough filled with anything from chicken to cheese. The restaurant’s new menu also includes Venezuelan lasagna, pernil and pabellon criollo, a shredded beef dish. Chang, her sister Elena and Elena’s husband, Francisco Duran, own and run the business.

“When people call us on the phone, they hear my accent or speak to me in Spanish and then they come into the store, confused by my appearance,” said Chang, who is in her 40s.

Chang said her family is originally from China but her father fled to Venezuela when he was 12, around 1956 according to Chang, because of communism and the political unrest it created.

After marrying Chang’s mother in Hong Kong, her parents settled in Venezuela, where Ysabel and Elena were born. The sisters lived in Puerto La Cruz until they graduated high school.

“And then we started to notice things were changing in Venezuela,” Chang said. “My family knew by experience something was happening. We knew how this story would end.”

Chang moved to America in 1988 and the rest of her family soon followed after Chavez attempted an unsuccessful coup d’état in 1992.

“We just knew that we couldn’t go back to Venezuela,” she said. “There was a lot of kidnapping and crime in general was rising. What’s the point of working so hard if you can’t even enjoy the money?”

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Sunnyside launches borough’s first ‘Bike Friendly Business District’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's Office

The bicycle wheels are going round and round in Sunnyside.

On Saturday, the neighborhood became Queens’ first “Bike Friendly Business District.”

A Bike Friendly Business District is a system of businesses, cultural institutions, and community organizations dedicated to boosting safe bicycling, according to Transportation Alternatives.

The advocacy organization has established Bike Friendly Business Districts in the East Village, Lower East Side and along Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn.

“The launch of Sunnyside’s very own Bike Friendly Business District is an opportunity for our neighborhood to showcase its diversity as well as its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and cafes,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped launch the district with Transportation Alternatives, local business owners, cyclists and pedestrians. “Cyclists should come out to Sunnyside and shop at the over 70 participating businesses. As ridership climbs in our city, and the cycling infrastructure grows here in western Queens, Sunnyside hopes to capitalize by highlighting all we have to offer.”

Over 70 local businesses who support safer conditions for both cyclist and pedestrians will offer special commercial discount to members of Transportation Alternatives.

The business owners are looking to transform Queens Boulevard to include safe spaces for pedestrians, protected lanes for cyclists and dedicate lanes for buses.

“Designating Sunnyside as a Bike Friendly Business District means that we’re committed to making the neighborhood safe, accessible and fun for everyone,” said Rachel Thieme, executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District.

For a map of the Bike Friendly Business District and participating local businesses, click here.

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More Slow Zones coming to Queens


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

More areas of Queens are slowing down.

The city’s Department of Transportation announced Friday the second phase of Arterial Slow Zones, which reduce speed limits to 25 mph, in 14 new locations throughout the city. New signs will be put up indicating the change.

Among the 14 locations are two Queens corridors. The first will run 5.8 miles on Roosevelt Avenue from Queens Boulevard to 154th Street and the approximate start month is set for September.

In December, the DOT is expected to begin implementing a 5.6-mile slow zone on Metropolitan Avenue from Onderdonk Avenue to 132nd Street.

“Slow Zones are a critical and widely endorsed element of Vision Zero,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “We are glad to work closely with local communities in bringing these life saving measures to corridors across the city. These 14 additional zones meet another goal we set in February.”

In May the DOT announced that Northern and Queens boulevards would become part of 25 planned Arterial Slow Zones implemented throughout the five boroughs.

The first phase of a Slow Zone for Northern Boulevard runs 4.2 miles long from 40th Road to 114th Street.

DOT also implemented a Slow Zone on Queens Boulevard stretching 7.4 miles from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue.

 

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Families at Pan American homeless shelter reportedly bused to movies during third protest


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents of the controversial Pan American Hotel homeless shelter were kept away from protestors during another rally against the opening of the site, according to a published report.

About 550 residents gathered Tuesday to hold another protest in front of the hotel located on Queens Boulevard and prior to the rally, the Department of Homeless Services arranged to have 230 children and adults from the shelter bused to the movies, DNAinfo reported.

The residents were taken to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2” paid for by the agency at a theater in Jamaica in order to remove the children from any hatred that “potentially could be exhibited” during the July 22 rally, according to DNAinfo.

Last night’s rally is the third held by residents opposing the shelter which currently houses more than 180 families. The community has said that the hotel was turned into the shelter, by nonprofit Samaritan Village, without residents and elected officials being given prior notice.

The last protest, which coincided with Community Board 4’s meeting with the DHS and residents, was filled with hundreds of protestors shouting criticisms back and forth with shelter residents.

Two weeks ago, just a neighborhood away, DHS approved the conversion of the 121-room Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst into a permanent homeless shelter as well.

Community members and elected officials in that area also say they were not told or asked about the decision.

The hotel previously was used as an emergency overnight site for homeless families, but two years ago the DHS has said it would not turn the motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

An emergency town hall meeting and public protest against the East Elmhurst homeless shelter is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

 

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Stringer criticizes DHS for handling of homeless shelter placement process


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Salvatore Licata

Amid ongoing controversy over several Queens homeless shelters, the city comptroller has said the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is “failing” in the way it deals with homelessness throughout the five boroughs.

In a letter to DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor, City Comptroller Scott Stringer addressed the ongoing “homelessness crisis, particularly among families” in New York City. He noted that there are different causes that contribute to the rise, however the “current playbook” in dealing with the issue needs to be changed.

“Especially concerning to my office is the emergency contracting approach that the Department of Homeless Services has employed to site new facilities in neighborhoods with minimal community consultation,” Stringer wrote in the letter on Thursday.

In one case, Glendale residents have been fighting for more than two years to stop an abandoned manufacturing plant from becoming a homeless shelter. The community complained that they were given little to no notice about the shelter.

“DHS must begin to immediately repair its relationships with local communities by creating a robust consultative process with community stakeholders for all of its currently planned sites and for those proposed in the future,” Stringer wrote. “This process should allow for meaningful input from local stakeholders, advocacy groups, and elected officials.”

In the past month, two western Queens neighborhoods have also had to deal with unannounced homeless shelters being moved into two hotels.

Hundreds of protestors spoke against the city’s initiative to house homeless families at the Pan American Hotel on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst without asking for any input from the community.

Last week, the DHS approved the conversion of the Westway Motor Inn on Astoria Boulevard into a shelter housing over 100 families. Residents and elected officials are outraged the agency let them know about the shelter just a day before the families began moving into it.

“If DHS continues to neglect communities until after emergency contracting decisions have been made it will neither benefit from local knowledge of the area nor engender harmonious integration with the surrounding communities,” Stringer wrote.

 

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New retail space coming to Rego Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering Courtesy of Winick Realty Group

New retail opportunities are coming to Rego Park just blocks from three major Queens malls.

Leasing has begun on 8,095 square feet of ground retail space at 92-77 Queens Blvd., which is currently under construction, Winick Realty Group announced. The site is expected to be move-in ready by 2015.

“We truly believe that this is an unparalleled opportunity for any retailer to position themselves in front of three major malls, Queens Boulevard, the Long Island Expressway, two subway lines and 10 bus lines,” said Winick Realty Group real estate broker Robert Heicklen.

Located adjacent to Rego Center and blocks away from Queens Center and Queens Place malls, 92-77 offers retailers 35 feet of all-glass frontage on 93rd Street and front- and rear-facing backlit signage.

Deals including one for a 16,000-square foot fitness center and another for a “well-known national coffee brand” are pending for two of the three spaces on the property, according to Winick Realty Group. The overall site features a 400-square-foot loading dock and on-site parking.

According to a Winick Realty Group online flyer, Retro Fitness and Starbucks are expected soon.

“Winick Realty Group is excited to represent this type of high-profile, high-visibility exclusive as we continue to expand our leasing efforts in the borough of Queens,” said Winick Realty Group President Steven Baker.

 

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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.

 

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DOT to implement Slow Zones on Northern and Queens boulevards


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The city’s Vision Zero traffic safety plan will be implemented at two highly trafficked Queens thoroughfares where collisions have claimed more than 20 lives in the last six years, officials said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday that Northern and Queens boulevards would become part of 25 planned Arterial Slow Zones implemented throughout the five boroughs.

“I am pleased to bring the Arterial Slow Zone program to Northern Boulevard where long crosswalks and high speeds have been an unnecessary reality for too many Queens residents,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

The first phase of a Slow Zone for Northern Boulevard will run 4.2 miles long from 40th Road to 114th Street. Starting later this month, the speed limit will be lowered to 25 mph and traffic signals will be retimed.

Since 2008, there have been five fatalities on Northern Boulevard, according to the DOT. One of the recent accidents involved 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, who was fatally struck by a truck on his way to school on Northern Boulevard and 61st Street.

Last month the DOT announced it would install two pedestrian safety islands at the intersection, and remove the westbound left turn bay and signal on Northern Boulevard to eliminate possible vehicle and pedestrian collisions.

“Bringing an arterial slow zone to Northern Boulevard is a huge victory for our entire community,” Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said.

In July, the DOT will implement a Slow Zone on Queens Boulevard, which has seen 23 deaths in the past six years. The Slow Zone will stretch 7.4 miles from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue.

“I am thrilled to be here on Northern Boulevard with Commissioner Trottenberg announcing safety improvements, rather than with a grieving family begging the city to take actions,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “Too many lives have been lost on Northern and Queens Boulevard, and many other dangerous roads throughout our city.”

The city agency also announced Slow Zones would go up on Jamaica Avenue later this month, and Rockaway Boulevard in August.

For more information on the Slow Zones, visit www.nyc.gov/dot or www.nyc.gov/visionzero.

 

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Car share service comes to Forest Hills


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Carpingo

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

A Brooklyn-based car share company is rolling into Queens.

Carpingo, a subset of All Car Rent-a-Car, opened its second location in Queens in Forest Hills Friday, part of a plan to accelerate their business into the second most populous borough.

The company, which opened in Brooklyn in 2012, has more than 40 locations in its home borough, but officials said they’ve had their eyes on Queens for a while and are thinking of expanding here because of the wide potential for more users.

“Shared mobility is a big, big deal,” said Gladstone McFarlane, director of business development for Carpingo. “It’s something that is catching on. I know people who have owned cars, but are moving on, because they see a financial benefit or an environmental benefit.”

Registered Carpingo members can reserve cars online or from their mobile devices at any time during the day. Then they can pick up the cars from local parking garages and use membership cards to access the vehicles.

Carpingo’s Long Island City location opened last year, but since then the company has had trouble expanding in Queens while fighting rivals such as Zipcar. Now it’s moving forward cautiously with its new location.

The Forest Hills site has just two cars in the Central Parking garage on Queens Boulevard, but McFarlane said based on its performance they’ll add more cars and different makes and models.

“We’re a small company and we are trying to be the little engine that could,” McFarlane said. “Once we gauge activity then we will proceed.”

 

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$24M asking price for Elmhurst lot near Queens Center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

An Elmhurst lot, located across the street from the Queens Place mall, has been put up for sale for $24 million, according to real estate company Massey Knakal.

The 47,365-square-foot lot, located at 88-18 Justice Ave., is one block off of Queens Boulevard and adjacent to the Georgia Diner.

According to the listing provided by Massey Knakal, there is a Restrictive Declaration on the property allowing it to be developed “per existing approved plans,” though these could not be confirmed. The lot can also be used for residential and/or community facility development, but would require termination of the Restrictive Declaration. The property has 227,352-square-feet of development rights.

The lot is located close to Queens Center mall and a block from the M and R train lines at Grand Avenue. It is also near all the major highways.

 

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Four Queens streets among region’s most dangerous for pedestrians: report


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

As Mayor Bill de Blasio and other local leaders push to lower traffic deaths, a new report has identified four Queens roadways as some of the most dangerous  for pedestrians in downstate New York.

The analysis, from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a nonprofit policy watchdog organization, found that from 2010 to 2012, Woodhaven Boulevard had the most pedestrian deaths with eight fatalities.

It was ranked sixth overall out of 12 counties in downstate New York and the second worst in the city, behind Broadway in Manhattan.

Tied with the 14th most deaths were Union Turnpike, Queens Boulevard and Northern Boulevard, which had five fatalities each.

Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death,” were new to the list this year.

Over the weekend four pedestrians, including a 7-year-old girl, were struck in a hit-and-run at a bus stop on Northern Boulevard and 48th Street.

An 8-year-old Woodside boy was killed on his way to school in December when a truck driver, who was operating his vehicle on a suspended license, hit him at the intersection of 61st Street and Northern Boulevard.

On Jan. 15, with the child’s family at his side, de Blasio launched his Vision Zero initiative at the boy’s school.

The mayor and his administration is launching an interagency working group, together with the NYPDDepartment of TransportationDepartment of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission, to implement the plan, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years.

Nearly 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roadways, multi-lane roads that often have speed limits of 40 mph or more and little pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign analysis.

“These findings make it clear once again that we need to redesign our most dangerous arterial corridors,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. “We can save lives by building complete streets with protected bike lanes, wider sidewalks and pedestrian safety islands.”

 

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Panda Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar: More than just great food


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Panda Asian Bistro

Among a plethora of chain restaurants, fast food joints, small eateries and convenience stores, there’s a new player on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park that is looking to change the game.

Panda Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar, which opened roughly six months ago, boasts a fusion of oriental specialties, and owners are considering expanding it as an entertainment venue.

“On Queens Boulevard, there are not many things you could do after night [fall],” co-founder Sam Cheng said. “We are trying to change it into an entertainment place rather than just pure restaurant. That’s the goal.”

The first floor of the restaurant has black and white striped walls and red bamboo sprinkled around near the windows. Every Friday night the eatery features a performer who does magic tricks.
Cheng said since it has been well received by patrons, they are considering expanding the performances.

A 1,200-square-foot, 80-seat party room for private events is located on the second floor of the restaurant. Cheng, who grew up in nearby Elmhurst, also said they are experimenting with turning the second floor into a lounge with live music.

Besides the entertainment value of Panda, the food is worth looking forward to. The eatery boasts a range of Asian specialties, including Chinese, Thai and Japanese food.

Appetizers are a mix of favorites such as gyoza dumplings, crispy duck rolls and Thai herbs calamari with an original spicy duck sauce.

Entrees, such as tender General Tso’s chicken and yaki udon, grace a wide menu, which includes many vegetarian choices as well.

Cheng said the sushi fish is bought from Japanese vendors, and rolled by a Japanese chef. There are plenty to choose from, including Yellowtail, ikura (salmon), ebi (shrimp), and maguro (tuna).

And so customers can fully enjoy the selection, Panda offers all-you-can-eat sushi every day for $19.95 on weekdays and $21.95 on weekends.
On top of the entertainment value and wide selection of dishes, customers should know that meals at Panda are free, if it’s your birthday.

Panda Asian Bistro
95-25 Queens Blvd., Rego Park
718-896-8811
Hours: Sunday –Thursday 11:00 am- 10:30 p.m.
Friday& Saturday: 11:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Credit card: yes
Delivery: yes

 

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NYPD to hold free public document shredding event at Queens Center Mall


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of NYPD

Looking to help start the New Year on the right foot? The NYPD is holding a free document shredding public event to make sure personal information does not get into the wrong hands.

The NYPD’s Crime Prevention Section will be holding the event at Queens Center Mall on Sunday, Jan. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the intersection of 59th Avenue and Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst under the JCPenney sign. Police will help the public shred documents containing any personal or sensitive information for free.

Participants will also be able to bring their old hard drives to the event and have them destroyed. During the event you could also have your electronic devices registered with the NYPD Operation ID Program.

 

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Elderly woman, motorcyclist dead in Queens Boulevard crash


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Updated Monday, December 23 2:23 p.m.

An elderly woman and motorcyclist are dead following a collision on Queens Boulevard in Woodside on Saturday, cops said.

Police responded to the accident just after 4:30 p.m. in which the driver of the Suzuki motorcycle, Darien Baker, 31, collided with 78-year-old Marion Kurshuk at the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 58th Street as the pedestrian was crossing the street.

Baker and Kurshuk were taken to Elmhurst General Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing.

 

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Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars makes $10K donation to local charities, groups after holiday pub crawl


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars

Less than a week after the Santas came to Sunnyside, the first wave of toys was donated to local charities and groups.

Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars, a collective of 10 bars and restaurants on and around Queens Boulevard, held their Second Annual Sunnyside Santathon pub crawl for charity on December 7 where they raised $10,000 in monetary and toy donations.

The participating bars were Bar 43, The Courtyard Ale House, Maggie Mae’s, The Gaslight, Arriba Arriba, Sidetracks, Molly Blooms, PJ Horgan’s, McGuinness Pub and Bliss Street Station.

The collective made their first donation Thursday at the United Forties Civic Association Holiday Party at St. Teresa’s Church in Woodside where they were joined by representatives from the church, St. Raphael’s Church, 108th Precinct Captain Brian Hennessy and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. The group also donated money to the food pantries at both churches.

“It just feels fantastic to be able to give back to the community,” said Liz Taylor, manager of Bliss Street Station. “The little kids will wake up Christmas morning and have something to play with.”

The organizations receiving toys include St. Teresa’s and St. Raphael’s Church, the 108th Precinct Toy Drive, MercyFirst Angel Guardian Orphanage in Brooklyn and Metro Homeless Shelter.

This year’s donations doubled from the inaugural Santathon last year. All who took part this year were dressed in their best Santa attire, and some even came as Santa’s little helpers.

“It was great to get together,” said Patrick Burke, owner of The Courtyard Ale House. “It shows the hard work we did really paid off. It was tremendous, we exceeded our expectation.”

Monetary and new, unwrapped toy donations are still being accepted at the 10 bars of Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars up until Christmas.




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