Tag Archives: Ridgewood

Future Ridgewood brewery site begins transformation


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

A few days after announcing the leasing of a Ridgewood warehouse for the new home of Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, the owner has begun moving into his new digs.

Queens native Rich Castagna, who founded a 150-square-feet Maspeth microbrewery a few years ago, has already moved some vats, many kegs and tons of other equipment into the 2,300-square-foot site of the brewery’s future home near the intersection of Decatur Street and Wyckoff Avenue.

The father of three, who has a day-job with a shipping company, is working on the brewery with a little help, but is aiming to set up and begin brewing from the new site within six months.

“The priority is to get beer flowing out of the doors, because I have to offset the rent,” Castagna said.

There is still much to be done with the new space though.

Castagna is hoping to soon bring a boiler, two fermenters and two stem jacketed kettles into the brewing section, which will be located at the back of the building.

The front part will become home to the bar and the tasting room. He already has long wooden beams in the site that he plans to fashion into tables.

Following the expansion, he hopes to bring beer to new outlets that he couldn’t serve before because of the limited brewing capacity at the former site.

“If I can get this thing up and running there are a lot of other accounts that are frankly waiting in line for me to add them,” Castagna said. “In the nano system it’s kind of like I’m busting my pants. I’ve outgrown my school uniform.”

Take a look at the gallery below to see the future brewery in progress.


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Bridge and Tunnel microbrewery expanding to Ridgewood


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rich Castagna

A Queens microbrewery is planning a big move.

Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, a “nano-scale” brewery in Maspeth, signed a lease for a warehouse space in Ridgewood, the brewery announced.

Currently, the brewery has been operating through a tiny 150-square-foot space, but the new 2,300-square-foot building will “allow for more production” and be home to a brewery that patrons can visit, owner Rich Castagna said.

Castagna founded Bridge and Tunnel and received a license to operate in 2012. It has been a one-man operation and distribution system since the brewery’s inception, but Castagna is now planning to hire some employees to help with the expanded brewery.

The new location will be around the intersection of Decatur Street and Wyckoff Avenue, near eatery Houdini Kitchen Laboratory, which already carries some Bridge and Tunnel beers. There could be collaborations with the restaurant in the future.

“We have a pretty good working relationship,” Castagna said. “We’re kind of both excited about things we can do together.”

Castagna is happy Ridgewood has become a more desirable neighborhood recently, but wants the brewery to be a place where people who have known the area for a long time can enjoy the history of the neighborhood.

Ridgewood is where he had his first beer, attended grammar school and high school and played little league, among other firsts.

“It’s where my roots are,” Castagna said. “This is where I’m supposed to be.”

Castagna didn’t give a specific time for when the new brewery location will open up, but said he will begin moving into the space shorty.

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Ridgewood gran sews her way to some happiness


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Sewing was a favorite hobby for one Ridgewood resident, but when tragedy struck her family it became more than just a pastime.

Erna, 80, who asked not to have her last name published, had four children, but in 2011 her youngest daughter, Kristina, died from breast cancer at age 46. About a year later, her eldest child and only son, John, died from heart failure at age 59. Living alone with the burden of losing two children, Erna needed something to help ease her loss.

“I needed something to take the pain off of my mind,” she said. “That’s why I started to sew again. I concentrate on it and not the sadness, and it helps to calm me down.”

Erna sews all types of objects, like pillows, detergent covers, aprons, bunnies, geese, dolls, snowman and carousel horses among other things. She learned back in 1985 when one of her friends introduced her to the craft.

She was still working during that time, but promised herself she would save up enough material to continue when she retired. She did, but her daughter got sick and her son had his heart attack— and she had to deal with the issues that come with being a matriarch of a large family. She lost interest in the hobby.

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“Losing your children is one of the hardest things you can go through in life,” she said. “But the ambition came back for sewing and it’s been my therapy.”

Erna has her work on display at Norma’s bakery, located on Catalpa Avenue. She went with a holiday theme, with Christmas pillows, detergent covers, teddy bears and snowmen. She said it brings a different meaning to her life knowing that her work makes others happy.

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“At this point, I’m just charging so I can pay for the material I use,” Erna said. “I love doing this and am so happy that others appreciate what I do.”

To check out her work, you can visit Norma’s on Catalpa Avenue or go to her Etsy page.

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Real estate roundup: Astoria Cove developer may increase number of affordable housing units ahead of City Council vote, new hotel for Ridgewood


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Studio V Architecture 

Astoria Cove site developer comes to labor union agreement for project’s construction 

“The Astoria Cove site developers, Alma Realty, have agreed to use union labor for construction, building maintenance and security on the mega-project, a source told The News. It’s also expected that the developers will agree to increase the number of units of affordable housing in the project.” Read more [The New York Daily News]

New hotels for Ridgewood?

“New Jersey A/E firm Jarmel Kizel posted on social media that they are designing a new mixed-use project for the site, with hotel, retail, and multifamily occupancy.” Read more [Wyckoff Heights]

Top 5 home sales in Brooklyn, Queens in October

“In Queens, a two-bedroom condo at the View at East Coast on the Hunter’s Point waterfront was the borough’s priciest residential sale recorded in October, PropertyShark data showed. The fifth-floor unit at 46-30 Center Boulevard sold for $2.5 million. It features two bathrooms and totals 1,443 square feet.” Read more [The Real Deal]

Station LIC on Track to open November 17

“The railroad-themed bar/restaurant that is coming to Hunters Point is on track to open next week. Station LIC, located at 10-37 Jackson Avenue, will be opening on Monday, Nov. 17, according to its owners.” Read more [LIC Post]

 

Ridgewood couple charged in crime spree targeting moms with strollers


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A Ridgewood couple went on a pickpocketing spree, stealing from women with baby strollers as they shopped, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The married pair, Luis A. Chango, 45, and Rosa Jerez, 37, are accused of working together to distract their victims between August and November of this year.

Jerez would often engage the young mothers in conversation, act as a lookout or shield Chango as he removed the victims’ personal property, including cellphones, wallets and as much as $2,000 in cash in one incident, prosecutors said.

During one of the thefts, Chango even allegedly pulled an iPhone out of the hands of a baby that was playing with it, causing the child to burst into tears.

They not only went after women at businesses in their own neighborhood, but also hit a Jackson Heights Carter’s children’s store on 82nd Street several times, other western Queens clothing stores and a seafood shop in Brooklyn, Brown said.

Chango and Jerez have both been charged with multiple counts of grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, endangering the welfare of a child and petit larceny.

If convicted, Chango, who acted alone in six of the 14 thefts, faces up to 38 years in prison, according to prosecutors. Jerez faces up to 23 years.

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BP Katz denies proposed Ridgewood rental building in industrial zone


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of  Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

Ridgewood residents concerned about the loss of industrial space scored a major victory after Borough President Melinda Katz rejected a variance for a new three-story building with a penthouse on land zoned for manufacturing uses.

The decision comes after Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Community Board 5 opposed the project, which would be located at 1506 Decatur St., also known as 11-01 Irving Ave.

The total proposed size of the building would be nearly 5,000 square feet, and there would be two apartments on each of the three floors, and the penthouse above.

However, the area is part of the South of Myrtle Avenue Manufacturing Area (SOMA) Industrial Business Zone (IBZ), and although the block has low row houses with multiple dwellings, the land is zoned for manufacturing use. Katz and supporters of the city’s manufacturing sector hopes that it could be used as its zoning intended.

“Even though the applicant’s site is narrow and small, some manufacturing businesses may be able to utilize the space due to technological advances in recent years. They can operate and function cleanly and more efficiently using a smaller footprint,” Katz said in her decision. “Therefore, this site should be development with uses that are compatible with the industrial nature of the SOMA IBZ.”

The site is a 2,258-square-foot vacant lot that once had a residential building that was demolished in 1971, according to Katz. 11-01 Irving Ave LLC, which submitted the proposal for the project, purchased the land in 2013 for $180,000, according to city records, more than double its trading price in 2005 ($81,000).

Community Board 5 denied the plans for the site in a 21-13 vote in June for similar reasons as those given by the borough president.

In her decision, Katz said the loss of the manufacturing businesses over the past decades made many parcels of industrial land be redeveloped for other uses, but some should be preserved for the future of the industry.

“Industrial Business Zones were created for the purpose of protecting industrially zoned areas from other types of development while the manufacturing sector of the New York City economy reshapes itself,” Katz said.

The proposal will now go to the Board of Standard and Appeals, which has the final say on the plan.

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Ridgewood resident starts beer society in neighborhood


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

He’ll drink to that.

One Ridgewood transplant has such a love for beer that he decided to start a group for its appreciation.

Stephen Calebro, 40, just moved to Ridgewood from Bushwick in July. He has always been fond of the drink and wanted to see whether others in the neighborhood shared his interest.

Out of that idea came the new group, the Ridgewood Beer Society.

“The older I got the more I started to pay less attention to the popular art and music of the times and started to appreciate food and drink more,” Calebro, who works in a beer café in Hell’s Kitchen, said. “So, I decided to throw the idea out there to others and from that came the beer society.”

Started in August, the beer society has more than 130 “likes” on Facebook. Calebro has already put together three events for people in the society to come together, get to know each other and find out more about different types of beers.

Calebro is planning events and meet ups around many of the local bars in Ridgewood as well as breweries in Brooklyn and Queens.

“The local bars and stores here have a great selection of beers that you wouldn’t really find in a lot of places,” he said. “I want to focus the events around this area of Queens in general and then branch out from there.”

Beyond the social events in bars and breweries, Calebro is hoping to expand the group to food appreciation. He even has an idea of doing the first beer and bagel pairing because of the variety of both products.

He also wants to host bottle sharing events, which is when people from the group bring their own cup, a bottle of their favorite type of beer or one that is not mainstream, and share it with the group.

Calebro welcomes all people of Queens and Brooklyn, from beer enthusiasts to those that just enjoy a drink.

“The group is very laissez-faire, if you could make it to an event great, if not, no problem,” Calebro noted. “I just want people to come and hang out with others who want to have fun and drink beer.”

To find out more about the group, visit www.facebook.com/Ridgewoodbeer.

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MTA bus fatally strikes man in Ridgewood


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

POLICE TAPE

A man crossing a street in Ridgewood early Thursday morning was struck and killed by an MTA bus, according to authorities.

The bus was traveling northbound on Wyckoff Avenue around 5:10 a.m, at the Brooklyn-Queens border, when it made a right turn to head onto Palmetto Street, police said. It then hit the pedestrian with its rear-wheel as he was crossing Palmetto Street.

The victim, who has yet to be identified by police but is believed to be in his 40s, was taken to Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said there have been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.

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Ridgewood residents to host first ‘spooky bar crawl’


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

As Ridgewood adults grew out of the trick-or-treating phase they found another way to have some fun in the festive spirit of Halloween this year.

A spooky bar crawl around the neighborhood will be happening on Saturday, Oct. 25. The crawl, which was put together by Ridgewood Social in concert with some local groups and bars, will start at 7 p.m. and run through many of the popular bars in the neighborhood.

“We want people to come out in costume and have fun,” said Sarah Feldman, a Ridgewood resident and operator of Ridgewood Social. “We are really looking forward to it.”

The bar crawl will start in Brooklyn by the Bushwick/Ridgewood border at the bar Old Stanley’s. It will then make its way into Ridgewood as its next stop will be Paradise, on Woodward Avenue.

After that, the crawlers will make their way to Windjammer, Gottscheer Hall, Bleachers, Cozy Corner, Cream and finally end at Queens Tavern.

tavern

Along with the drinks, there will be contests, dancing and raffles.

To find out more, check out “Ridgewood Social” on Facebook.

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Ridgewood woman recounts childhood abduction to Egypt, escape in YouTube video


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos © Moral Courage Project 2014

She found the courage to escape. She then found the courage to share her story.

Nashwa El-Sayed was abducted to Egypt from Queens at the age of 2 by her father. After suffering from abuse, years of separation from her mother and an impending arranged marriage at the age of 17, she was finally able to leave the country and return to America.

El-Sayed, now 24, and living in Ridgewood, has since graduated from Queens College with a degree in international relations and recounted her tale, hoping others in her situation will do the same.

“Hopefully they see it as something that can change lives,” she said.

Though El-Sayed has shared her story before, she is telling it in a new medium: video.

The Moral Courage Project, an educational nonprofit started in 2008, posted a video of El-Sayed’s story, “Forced marriage in Egypt: How I escaped,” on its YouTube channel last month.

The nonprofit mentors, teaches and provides role models for people who want to build up moral courage, or do “the right thing in the face of your fears,” according to Adam Grannick, multimedia producer with the Moral Courage Project.

It showcases its role models through videos it creates for its YouTube channel, Moral Courage TV. They are “everyday people” from a middle-schooler facing a bully to corporate whistleblowers and everyone in between.

Launched in April 2012, the videos are accompanied by related social media posts to bring awareness to whatever issue they highlight and can each have their own look, depending on the story.

Since filmmakers didn’t have footage from El-Sayed’s childhood, her video featured animation.
“Animation usually takes away from the seriousness of a story, but this one was not the case,” El-Sayed said.

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El-Sayed’s story begins on Father’s Day 1993 — the day she was taken. She was living in Richmond Hill at the time, and her Egyptian father and American mother were in the process of filing for divorce.

“[My mother] knew deep down that she wasn’t going to see me again,” El-Sayed said in the video.

A couple of years after landing in Egypt, El-Sayed was living in Alexandria with her father and a stepmother who physically and emotionally abused her. She also had to be “a pious Muslim girl who should not be seen in public, who should not speak in public.”

At around age 9, she found some relief when her father divorced the woman. He soon married another woman who also tried to abuse El-Sayed, but she retaliated and the woman never tried it again.

Also at 9 years old, she saw her mother for the first time since she was abducted. That moment was when she knew there was another place she belonged to and that she could study what she wanted.

Her mother from then on would send her items from the U.S. — media, such as music from the Backstreet Boys; toys, such as Barbies; new gadgets, such as CD players; and school supplies, such as glitter.

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El-Sayed’s father promised she could go to college in America as long as she got good grades. But during her final year of high school, her father told her that he found her a husband and that she was going to meet him on her wedding day in four months.

“All of a sudden there is a major change in plans and that is when I decided it was time to go,” El-Sayed said.

She called her mother in April 2008, who contacted the appropriate authorities, and within a few months El-Sayed was touch with the FBI and American embassy to plan a way out of the country.

But after her father found out about a visit she made to the embassy, she was put on lockdown and became suicidal.

As she recounts in the video, El-Sayed, through luck and bravery, managed to escape while she was at a friend’s house in Cairo.

But El-Sayed’s story and her ups and downs didn’t end with her escape.

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Most of the Moral Courage Project videos are two to three minutes long, but El-Sayed’s is 10 minutes.

“I tried cutting it down but it just felt wrong to leave out a lot of it,” said Grannick, who wanted the video to discuss El-Sayed’s life after she returned to America.

Back living in Richmond Hill with her mother, El-Sayed went through a major depression the first year as she tried to figure out her purpose and why she went through what she did.

Her relationship with her mother, good for the first two years, became fractured when differences began to show between them, and they disagreed over El-Sayed’s publicly sharing her story, including a June 2013 Daily News article.

But she considers herself one of the lucky ones. Children around the world are abducted by parents every year, she said, and she is not only one of the few who has survived and is functional, but is one of the few who has also come out with her story and become an activist.

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After graduating from Queens College in the summer of 2013, El-Sayed now works with the school’s Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Program as the assistant manager. The program gives college students from a variety of religious backgrounds the opportunity to travel to the Middle East to interact with government officials, entrepreneurs, students, educators and philanthropists, create a dialogue and experience what the region is really like.

El-Sayed also works, through the Epic Theatre Ensemble, with a women’s group regarding issues in the Arab American community, and continues to work with the FBI to bring awareness to the issue of childhood abduction by parents.

“It is possible for you to survive,” she says to end the video. “It is possible for you to leave behind the stigmas and actually carry on and make something of yourself.”

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Ridgewood auto body shop owner charged after underreporting more than $1M in repair work: DA


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

GavelMoneyHC1206_X_300_C_R

A Howard Beach man and his Ridgewood auto body shop have been charged after failing to pay more than $100,000 in collectible tax revenue, District Richard Brown said.

“According to the charges, the defendant and auto body business underreported $1,253,767.44 of taxable income over a three-year period,” Brown said. “Tax fraud doesn’t just cheat the city and state out of much-needed revenue, it makes every New Yorker a victim by denying funding for essential public services.”

Alfred D’Andrea, 45, a Howard Beach resident and president of Triangle Auto Body Inc., was arraigned Tuesday in Queens Criminal Court , where he was charged, along with his business, with grand larceny, criminal tax fraud, falsifying business records, offering a false instrument for filing and scheme to defraud, according to prosecutors.

D’Andrea’s auto body shop, located on 79th Avenue, allegedly received about $1.9 million for auto body repairs from various insurance companies between March 2008 and February 2011. But he only claimed $664,235 in taxable repairs, underreporting more than $1,253,000, Brown said.

In total, $54,852.33 in additional tax revenue was owed to New York State and $53,906.07 to New York City local municipalities.

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Man busted for storing illegal weapons in Ridgewood garage, apartment


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A man with a previous weapons conviction was arrested Tuesday after police found an arsenal of illegal guns and ammunition in his Ridgewood garage and bedroom, according to police.

Officers had received information that 51-year-old Victor Rivera was storing rifles and handguns in his garage and a second-floor apartment on 79th Avenue, authorities. They then came to the home to investigate on Oct. 21.

Inside the garage and a bedroom in the apartment, they discovered two shotguns, three rifles, two assault rifles, a TEC-9, a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, two .22-caliber revolvers and 700 rounds of ammunition for the weapons, according to police.

Rivera was charged with three counts of criminal possession of a loaded firearm; 20 counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree for possessing defaced firearms, assault rifles and ammunition clips due to his prior conviction for possession of a weapon; three counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree; and criminal possession of a controlled substance, authorities said.

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Woman starts coalition to bring artists together in Ridgewood


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Top: Photo courtesy of Colin C. Jorgensen (Cojo); Bottom: THE COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata

As a newcomer to the neighborhood, Emily Heinz wanted to start a group to bring a community within the community of Ridgewood together.

Though she may not be a “traditional” artist, art is the field that she most closely relates to and out of her love for it came the new group, The Artist’s Coalition.

“The art community in Ridgewood has existed for a while and now it is growing,” said Heinz, a 22-year-old Denver native who moved to Ridgewood about five months ago. “But there is no real epicenter for it in the community, so I wanted to bring it together.”

The coalition, started in early September, had its first meeting on Oct. 11. The idea that Heinz had for the group was to bring some of the local artists together, discuss their pieces with one another and learn from each other. She figured painters and maybe some photographers would show up.

But when it was time for the meeting, she was overwhelmed by the diversity of artists who attended.

“So many different types of artists came out,” Heinz said. “There were some photographers, writers, painters, sculptors, musical and mixed media artists. It went so well, everyone felt really good about it.”

As the ongoing art scene continues to grow in Ridgewood, Heinz said she wanted the group to “better facilitate the migration of the group and make it a part of the neighborhood.”

As the art scene has now taken off in the neighboring towns of Bushwick and Williamsburg, she does not want people to get confused about her purpose for starting the group.

“I don’t want people to think the group will be invading the community. I’m not interested in that,” Heinz said. “We want it to be part of the community and help it grow.”

The group has strengthened its numbers to 31 members and is growing by the day, according to Heinz. She is excited to host the next meeting on Nov. 8, with the location still being determined.

“We want people that really feel a passion for what they are making; that’s an artist,” Heinz said. “My hope is to have really good conversations and to see other people’s work. I also want the members of the coalition to leave feeling they had something valuable come out of the meeting.”

To find out more about The Artist’s Coalition, visit Ridgewood Artist’s Coalition on Facebook.

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Legislation proposed to give Glendale its own ZIP code


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Is it Glendale or Ridgewood? You can’t tell from the ZIP code.

But the confusion may be a thing of the past if new legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, gets passed.

“For years, the residents of Glendale have sought to obtain a ZIP code for their community and now I join them in their fight,” Meng said. “Most areas in the borough are recognized by their neighborhood names, which provide a sense of identity and pride for local residents. That is true for Glendale, and it’s time for the Postal Service to accept and recognize that by creating a ZIP code that the community can finally call its own.”

The pleas for a Glendale ZIP code have been constant for over a decade but have continually fallen on deaf ears, according to published reports. The neighborhood currently shares its 11385 ZIP Code with Ridgewood.

In 2007, the U.S. Postal Service shot down Glendale’s plea for its own ZIP code because it would be too costly and would have an adverse effect on mail service, according to the Daily News.

But residents and elected officials are willing to give it another go and win their very own five-digit identity.

“The residents and business owners in Glendale have advocated for Glendale to have a unique ZIP code for many year,” said Brian Dooley, president of the Glendale Property Association.

“Glendale should be recognized as a truly unique place with its own identity, issues and strengths, separate and apart from our neighbors in Ridgewood.”

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Ridgewood bakery to celebrate 80th anniversary with original prices


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Rudy's Bakery & Cafe

An iconic Ridgewood bakery will be celebrating its 80th birthday with some sweet old-fashioned prices.

Rudy’s Bakery and Café, located at 905 Seneca Ave., has been at the same spot in Ridgewood since 1934. And for its anniversary, which it’s celebrating on Oct. 25 from noon to 5 p.m., the bakery is going back to its original prices.

“We’re a traditional bakery and we cater to customers whose families have lived in this neighborhood for generations,” said Antoinette “Toni” Binanti, who has owned the establishment since 1980 when her family took over from previous owner Kurt Schlegelmilch. “We love our customers and we’re happy to provide them with the baked goods that they remember from childhood.”

Among the baked goods that will be available for the original pricing of 80 cents apiece will be miniature jelly donuts, Linzer tarts, Black Forest cake, cheese and cherry strudel and danishes. Along with the discounted prices, Rudy’s is hosting a German band and pumpkin decorating for children, among other activities.

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Rudy’s first started servicing Ridgewood in the heart of the Great Depression, when the neighborhood was home to a large community of German immigrants.

While it has continued to serve traditional German treats, such as Bienenstich and strudel, Rudy’s has grown its menu to start serving sweets like gelato and iced Nutella lattes.

“Though we have evolved with the times to offer new confections, we feel we’re part of a tradition here and we’re honored to play a role in the milestones of so many families with the cakes and other sweets that are part of their special occasions,” Binanti said.

The bakery’s anniversary celebration will coincide with Ridgewood’s Seneca Avenue Oktoberfest Stroll.

To learn more about Rudy’s visit, “rudysbakery” on Facebook or @rudyspastryshop on Twitter.

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