Tag Archives: Russo’s on the Bay

Benefit held for Howard Beach teen with rare form of cancer


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos by Jennine Dolan

Back in October, Brittany Zaita was diagnosed with a tumor that only affects one in eight million children. The 16 year old also got the news that her tumor is one of the 10 percent that are cancerous.

“When she was diagnosed, I felt like I was going to fall apart,” said Alisa Zaita, the teen’s mother. “It’s all brand new. We just got thrown into this waterfall and it was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m drowning, what am I going to do?’”

The paraganglioma tumor outside Brittany’s kidney metastasized to her spine in several areas, and since it is so rare, treatment options and therapies are few and far between.

The Howard Beach family held a fundraiser at Russo’s on the Bay Monday night to promote their daughter’s cause and raise funds for her treatment. The formal dinner event brought in almost 700 people.

“I’m so thankful that everyone would be so compassionate,” Brittany said. “I don’t have words.”

The high school junior said she was “surprised” when she got her diagnosis.

“I feel like I have to take it in stride, one day at a time,” she said. “I try to stay positive and just surround myself with good people, good energy.”

After her diagnosis, Brittany underwent an over eight hour surgery to remove the tumor at Memorial SloanCancer Center.

Now, she is stable but receives regular scans to make sure the tumor doesn’t reappear and also takes blood pressure medication every day.

“This is going to be a lifelong thing,” said her mother.

Next, the Zaitas will head to Bethesda, Maryland to the National Institute of Health, a leader in treating this cancer.

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JFK celebrates 50th anniversary of renaming, 50 million passengers


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of JFK Chamber of Commerce

Nearly 50 years has passed since the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the renaming of JFK Airport, as well as the 50 millionth passenger traveling through the international hub.

Russo’s On The Bay, located at 162-45 Cross Bay Boulevard, will host a luncheon on Tuesday, September 10 to commemorate all three occasions. Additionally, a commemorative journal will be published to memorialize the occasion, featuring guest speaker David Neeleman, CEO of Azul Airlines and co-founder of JetBlue.

Neeleman is additionally credited with building five airlines and will return to JFK to speak about his experiences.

And Jack Kennedy Schlossberg, grandson of JFK, will be a featured speaker.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was fatally shot on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas during a presidential motorcade. A 10-month investigation concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger and assassinated the nation’s 35th president.

Just over a month after the incident on December 24, the borough’s Idlewild Aiport, named after the Idlewild golf course it displaced, was rebranded as the John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“When we talk about the notoriety of the airport, it’s important that we identify it’s been 50 years since it was renamed after JFK,” said Bob Caton, president of the JFK Chamber of Commerce.

Built in 1942, the airport was initially supposed to be 1,000 acres to relieve the overcrowded LaGuardia Airport, but by completion, it had grown to five times that size.

In 2012, JFK International took in 49,292,733 passengers, making it the 13th busiest airport in the world and the sixth busiest in the country. This year, JFK officials expect 50 million passengers to travel through their gates.

“Airports are not really seen as a vessel for commerce, but JFK is a vehicle that allows that to happen,” said Caton, who noted that the 50 millionth passenger is a “big event” for the airport.

“We’re very happy to have both 50/50 events happen this year,” he said.

As for the next 50 years — and beyond, Caton said, “as we move forward we want to show people we will be fresh and look toward the future.”

 

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DEP fixing pipe that led to flooding in Howard Beach


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

A flood-prone intersection in Howard Beach will finally see relief. Cross Bay Boulevard and 165th Avenue was long the site of collected storm water, creating a potentially dangerous situation for patrons at nearby Russo’s on the Bay.

“It wasn’t safe,” said Frank Russo, the catering hall’s owner. “In the winter time, that section would ice over. Other times, it was a puddle of water. It actually went over the sidewalk.”

Crews from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were performing regular cleaning of the neighborhood sewer system when they found the pipe that connects the intersection’s catch basin to the sewer line was broken, according to a spokesperson.

They could not determine for how long the pipe had been broken. Repairs are currently underway and will be completed this week.

“There definitely was an issue there,” Russo said, adding that local elected officials helped push the project. “But they’re fixing the problem.”

 

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The Courier, Queens Chamber of Commerce & Russo’s on the Bay team up to make Christmas bright for kids


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Under the sparkling chandeliers and twinkling Christmas lights, seventh grader Maddie McDade smiled brightly.

The St. Francis de Sales student’s Belle Harbor home burned down during Superstorm Sandy, leaving her and her family displaced to parts of Long Island and Brooklyn just weeks before the holidays. She, and students from five south Queens schools, attended a holiday celebration at Russo’s on the Bay on Tuesday, December 18, hosted by The Queens Courier and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re all getting together and I’m excited to see everyone,” said Maddie. “And it’s a nice celebration we’re having after everything and everyone being sad. It kind of brings everything up.”

Over 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade gathered at the event hall for lunch, music, entertainment and gifts. Jugglers and magicians travelled from table to table, showing off their skills to students whose mouths dropped to the floor. Nick the Baloonatic – a renowned balloon artist – created swords, hats and animals out of colorful rubber and thin air for the amazed guests. Even Santa was present, making his grand entrance to the sounds of delighted screams and cheers. Students clamored up to Saint Nick’s gilded throne, posing for pictures with the man in red.

Click here to see all the photos from the event

“For us, this was just a simple way to bring joy to children at this time who really, truly need it,” said Russo’s on the Bay owner Frank Russo Jr.

Jack Friedman, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t have been happier to provide such a wonderful experience for children who have experience such tragedy. The Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation provided essential funding to give each child a gift at the end of the celebration.

“Many of [the children] lost homes, personal possessions, many were displaced or had no electricity for weeks,” said Friedman. “The impact on children, the stress on children is something that’s rarely looked at, so to put a smile on children’s faces today is just a great, wonderful thing. These children missed out on Halloween so we’re going to make sure they have a merry Christmas.”

Callie Todd, a 3rd grader at St. Rose of Lima, is finally back in her Breezy Point home after the storm. The spirited amateur equestrian hopes to get the American Girl horseback riding set for Christmas, but is just ecstatic to be home again with all her toys.

Kindergartner John Anthony Grimes from Ave Maria Catholic Academy was excited for the day’s activities and to meet Santa Claus. After staying in his grandparents’ house for several weeks after the storm, he said he couldn’t wait for Christmas, and hoped to find a toy dirt bike under the tree.

Theresa Andersen, principal of St. Rose of Lima, said the school has continued to carry on holiday festivities, despite the tragic events of Sandy. She thanked Frank Russo Jr. for his immense kindness, stating that the school even switched the date of their Christmas show so children would not miss out on the party.

“This is a wonderful thing that [Russo] didn’t have to do, but he did it from the heart, and the children were so excited,” said Andersen.

Other volunteers who made this event possible were Archbishop Molloy High School Student Volunteers, Consolidated Bus Transit, Inc., Flowers by Brian, Danielle Michaels of Adrenaline Entertainment, Nick the Balloonatic, Magician Lou Johnson, Jack Lasala of Satisfaction Guaranteed DJs, Nicky Guida of 2+2 DJs, Steven Retas of Classie Sounds, Artie D’Alessio, Dan Drennan, Robert Castellano, Scott Nastro, Julian Nardulli of Express It Video, Susan McVea, Party City in Bayside, Mullen Advertising Agency, Lois Christie and the staff of Christie & Co. Salon * Spa, New York Hospital Queens, John and Colette Roe, the Jamaica Rotary, Dr. Mary Andrea, Benefits Advisory Group, All Car Rental Car, Rego Park Forest Hills Kiwanis, the Giving Tree Family, the New York Daily News, and Heskel and Janet Elias and American Car Wash.

- Additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

Vetro christens its reopening after Sandy


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

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In the days before Sandy, the quick-thinking staff of Vetro by Russo’s on the Bay removed many of the wine bottles that had been stored in the cellar.

“We were able to save a lot of it the day before by taking it out of the building,” said manager P.J. Connolly.

But when Howard Beach started to flood, the wine cellar and first floor of Vetro were deluged. Nearly everything was destroyed and many of the remaining bottles of the hot spot’s wine were decimated.

Vetro reopened only 38 days after the storm. On Thursday, December 6, four bottles that survived the flood were opened and served in the Vetro foyer to christen the restaurant’s reopening.

So far, the response has been growing from patrons as they start to head back to Vetro.

“Thankfully, we’ve had a nice response from the guests,” Connolly said.

New York boxing legends honored at Hall of Fame induction


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Mike Savitsky

Long after these boxers threw their last punch, the judge’s scorecard awarded the legends one last belt.

The rich history of New York boxing was finally honored with the induction of the inaugural class of pugilists into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame (NYSBHOF).

“Boxing in New York will not be forgotten,” said NYSBHOF founder Tony Mazzarella.

The induction ceremony took place Sunday, April 1 at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach.

Each inductee received a Hall of Fame belt, reminiscent of the championship hardware they received throughout their careers.

Inducted into the first NYSBHOF class were “Sugar” Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Mike Tyson, Carmen Basilio, Riddick Bowe, Carlos Ortiz, Vito Antuofermo, Emile Griffith, Mike McCallum, Gene Tunney, Benny Leonard and Tony Canzoneri.

LaMotta, McCallum, Griffith, Ortiz, Antuofermo, Acunto, Glenn and Lederman attended the gala, while the families of Robinson, Canzoneri, Tunney, Arcel, Gallo and Mercante were also represented.

The 90-year-old LaMotta, as famous for Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of him in “Raging Bull” as his legendary career, spoke in his acceptance speech about the greatest fighters he ever saw.

“I fought ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson so many times it’s a wonder I don’t have diabetes,” LaMotta said of his fellow inductee, who passed away in 1989. “He broke my jaw, but you can see he never broke my nose. The greatest pound-for-pound fighter who ever lived is ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson.”

LaMotta bestowed upon the actor who portrayed him similar praise.

“DeNiro is the greatest fighter who ever lived. How’d he play me? He sparred and shadow-boxed 1,000 rounds and when I was finished with him he could have turned pro,” LaMotta said.

The non-boxing inductees were judge/HBO analyst Harold Lederman, coach/instructor Steve Acunto, trainer/cutman Jimmy Glenn, trainers Gil Clancy and Ray Arcel, The Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer, New York Daily News boxing reporter/cartoonist Bill Gallo and referee Arthur Mercante, Sr.

The inductees were selected by a six-member NYSBHOF nominating committee.

To be eligible for hall of fame induction, boxers need to be inactive for at least three years and have had resided in New York for a significant portion of their boxing careers.

“The greatest fighters all fought in New York,” Lederman said.

Commemorative plaques listing the names of the inductees and NYSBHOF board members and nominating committee will be on display at the Waterfront Crabhouse in Long Island City.