Construction work has already begun for a new mixed-use building at the corner of 50thAvenue and Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, and now there’s a clearer picture of what the structure will look like.
Blueprints of the forthcoming building at 49-18 Vernon Blvd. have been posted on the construction fence.
Based on its blueprints, the OAPD Architecture-designed building’s façade will be comprised of a glass and stone design, and there will be ground-floor retail at the property.
The new building will be a five-story, 15-unit residential structure, according to filings with the Department of Buildings. About 4,450 square feet has been set aside for the retail component in the building.
49-18 Vernon Blvd. Photo courtesy of Scott Bintner/PropertyShark
Spain-based Wi-Fi provider GOWEX, which was announced last year as one of the organizations that would help bring free Wi-Fi access throughout the city, has filed bankruptcy and had “dozens” of its hotspots go offline, according to the New York Post.
Some of the hotspots include areas in Long Island City, the Bronx and Staten Island, the Post said.
According to the Post, analysts at Gotham City Research posted in a July 1 report that GOWEX had lied about the size of its contract with the city’s Economic Development Corporation, claiming it had 100,00 hotspots throughout the world, when it actually had about 5,000.
Founder and CEO of GOWEX, Jenaro Garcia resigned after he admitted he inflated the revenues, according to the Chicago Tribune.
When it was announced last year, GOWEX was expected to help bring free Wi-Fi access to the Long Island City area with the network being installed along the Vernon Boulevard, Jackson Avenue and Queens Plaza commercial and retail corridors.
GOWEX had a contract with the EDC worth $245,000 and it has paid the company about $185,000 so far, according to published reports. The contract with GOWEX runs through September 2016.
A burglary suspect has broken into five Long Island City restaurants and bars since June, getting away with cash and electronics, cops said.
The crime spree started on June 11 at Andre’s Pizza, located on 40th Avenue. The suspect took $20 from the restaurant’s cash register by breaking through the glass front door police said.
He then allegedly used the same method to break into Manducatis Rustica, on Vernon Boulevard during the early morning hours of June 22. The burglar stole two iPads, two iPad minis and $700 in cash, according to authorities.
The suspect also took a Galaxy 10 electronic tablet and $100 from Woodbines on Vernon Boulevard three days later, and $850 from on June 27 the Seattle Café, on Queens Boulevard, cops said.
During the latest incident, around 4:20 a.m. on July 4, the suspect attempted to burglarize the LIC Bar, on Vernon Boulevard, by entering through a window, but fled before he could take anything, according to police.
Jeff Blath, owner of Alobar, on Vernon Boulevard, believes the same suspect that tried to burglarize LIC Bar may have attempted to break into his restaurant just minutes earlier.
According to the establishment’s security footage and a porter who watches the eatery, around 3:50 a.m. a man, wearing similar clothing, used a glass bottle to hit Alobar’s door several times before stumbling backwards and walking away.
The man damaged the door and was caught on camera heading in the direction of LIC Bar, just two blocks down the street, Blath said.
He reported the incident to police, but said it isn’t considered an attempted burglary, just criminal mischief.
Blath, who opened Alobar three years ago and has lived in Long Island City for seven years, said the recent crime spree is a “very rare occurrence” in the area.
“I do know this neighborhood is becoming known for its restaurants and bars, and it may draw positive and negative attention,” he said.
Starting this weekend, residents and visitors will have better access to the western Queens waterfront.
The Q103 bus line, which connects Astoria and Long Island City via Vernon Boulevard, will offer service to riders on weekends, starting Sunday and operate later on weekday evenings, according to the MTA.
In April, the transit agency said the schedule update would serve as a trial program, and it would receive comments from the community at an MTA public hearing to be scheduled at a later date. After the public hearing, a decision will be made to keep the service or not. It has not been determined how long the trial program will run.
“This announcement is a milestone for all of us who fought for years to get proper bus service for the growing communities of Astoria and Long Island City,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris, who has been calling for the extra service on the bus line since 2011. “I am thrilled the MTA is finally realizing western Queens’ need for increased mass transit is real and pressing.”
Gianaris is also urging the MTA to make the Q103 expansion changes permanent.
The weekend service will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and, in addition, the Q103 will also extend its weekday service hours until 9 p.m., instead of 7:30 p.m. The travel path and bus stops will not be affected, the MTA previously said.
“These enhancements were all a result of listening to our customers and keeping close watch on changing ridership trends,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco.
Local leaders and business owners see the need to expand the Q103’s service as crucial to the growing neighborhoods.
“It is a positive step in improving transportation options in our neighborhood,” Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “The Vernon Boulevard corridor has been one of the more under-served transit thoroughfares in western Queens. Increasing bus service would be a vital resource to commuters traveling to Manhattan and to residents connecting from Astoria to Long Island City.”
According to officials, the Q103 ridership has been increasing in the past years, rising from 558 riders per day in 2011 to about 790 in 2014.
The MTA has also announced that this Sunday the Q19 will extend its western last stop from Astoria Boulevard and 21st Street to the East River waterfront at 27th Avenue and 2nd Street.
The Q102 will then also remain on 30th Avenue between Crescent Street and 8th Street, according to the MTA, with the stops on Crescent Street, Newtown Avenue and Astoria Boulevard to be relocated to 30th Avenue. All bus stops along Astoria Boulevard will instead be served by the Q19.
On May 31, a kick-off of the series will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 pm. and will feature the Volunteer Library Brigade hosting reading hour, book giveaways and more. All activities are free.
“The Hunters Point community deserves a world class library and we are very much looking forward to seeing that vision become a reality,” said Mark Christie, president of the Friends of Hunters Point Library. “While we wait on the bricks and mortar we are so pleased to have the Mobile Library service and excited to bring this sun and volunteer fueled pop-up library service.”
A mobile library will be parked every Saturday, rain or shine, at Vernon Boulevard and 48th Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and offer books and materials for all ages for loan as well as digital downloads onsite and special library offerings.
The Friends of Hunters Point Library will be supporting a “pop-up” library on Saturdays, weather permitting, offering reading and activities starting at 11 a.m. with children’s story hour.
In partnership with Urban Libraries Unite and Food Cellar, a mini-library will be placed at the Food Cellar in Long Island City. It will be modeled on “take a book, leave a book.” Wi-Fi will be available at the site and there will be a free downloadable digital library.
What do you do when an outrageously popular national doughnut chain opens across the street from your N’awlins-inspired café? Do you keep selling powdered-sugar-dusted beignets and steaming mugs of java? Or do you incorporate the arsenal of skills you know best to rename and rebrand the café into a full-service restaurant? That is precisely what owners Mina and Jimi did at Cranky’s, the popular café in Long Island City.
Now harboring the moniker “1682 French Louisiana,” the new incarnation boasts all of the old favorites, alongside a full menu of classic New Orleans and traditional French dishes. As the website explains, “The restaurant style came naturally as both Mina, a Paris native, and Jimi, a film aficionado, have had a long-term love affair with the beautiful, unique flavors of French- and Cajun-style food. They describe the French Quarter in New Orleans as walking into a movie, a place that is unlike anywhere else. It is that atmosphere that welcomes you as you enter 1682 French Louisiana. Leave New York City at the doorstep and enter New Orleans.”
Dinner service begins with a complimentary basket of peeled sweet potato skins that have been deep fried. They make an irresistibly addictive snack, especially with the herbed aioli served on the side.
Actually, many of the dishes served on the side or as small plates were some of the stars of the show at this little Louisiana kitchen. Take, for instance, the cornmeal-crusted fried chicken. The distinctively southern coating of crispy cornmeal served the perfect crunch for the juicy legs and thighs. But the slab of jalapeño cornbread hugging its side was literally dripping with melting butter, and disappeared quicker than Paula Dean can apologize.
When it comes to macaroni and cheese, few versions rival my own grandma’s quite as seriously. A luxurious béchamel coats traditional elbows of macaroni, which are then buried under a generous bubbling blend of three melted cheeses flowing over the edge of the dish. Nothing makes me feel like a kid again like a warm strand of cheddar stretching from the plate to my fork.
Cajun hush puppies arrive with a kiss of honey. Salads come topped with roasted beets or grass-fed angus beef. And come before 11 a.m. if you want to taste those beignets. Weekend brunch harbors a handful of unique additions, including croques monsieur and madame, eggs benedict, and pancakes with bananas foster or blueberry ricotta mascarpone. From po’ boys and olive-kissed muffaletta to Creole-style barbecue, seafood and chorizo gumbo, and a classic coq au vin, the menu holds a little something for everybody.
“I really felt we had to rebrand to let people know that we truly are a full restaurant now,” smiles Mina as a group of twenty enter from a nearby film studio, and she rushes to push tables together. “In this business, you have to be ready for anything.”
The Long Island City community plans to express its rage at the MTA for the lack of local subway service.
A town hall meeting for locals to decry the last three weekends of No. 7 train suspensions is scheduled for Thursday to go over the details of the service disruption, expected to last for 19 more weekends.
Local elected officials, who asked the MTA to set the meeting up, and MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco are expected to hear feedback from community members.
“I really thought the community should have the same access and same right to get the briefing and be able to ask their own questions,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “I want the folks to be able to share with the MTA how they feel about this and why it is so harmful to their business and everyday lives.”
Senator Michael Gianaris said the MTA does not realize Long Island City has become a destination. The community has attempted to be more reasonable with the agency, but without success.
“It’s nice to have a dialogue, but a dialogue without action is not that helpful,” Gianaris said. “I hope this time is different. We’re going to keep their feet to the fire.”
Through July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the MTA said, but there are also nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.
The suspensions are expected to be in effect from 11:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday between Times Square-42nd Street and Queensboro Plaza. On some weekends, there will also be reduced or express-only service between 74th Street-Broadway and Queensboro Plaza.
Ideas for transportation alternatives during the weekend disruptions, such as the shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city, will also be brought up.
Sheila Lewandowski, Long Island City resident and owner of The Chocolate Factory Theater, believes such a meeting should be done before the disruptions began. However, she hopes the MTA will take what is said at the meeting and put it to good use.
“I think it’s important that the MTA remembers that it’s a public service and that they need to hear from their customers. I don’t feel like we get much opportunities for that to happen,” Lewandowski said. “What I want is for them to be more accessible to the very people that use the system because I feel like that’s what’s going to drive better service and change.”
The town hall meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m. at P.S./I.S. 78 at 46-08 Fifth St.
Between Feb. 28 and July 21, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized but the agency also plans on holding nine tentative weekend shutdowns for August through November.
Thursday’s meeting was not opened to the public but some members of the Long Island City community stood outdoors in order to show their concerns.
The MTA offered to continue the conversation with the community by coming out and holding a meeting to explain the details for the suspensions, according to Gianaris. The date of that meeting is yet to be determined.
“It’s better that they are listening to our input. But it’s only valuable if it leads to change,” Gianaris said. “We hope that the MTA will not just listen to our concern but actually do something about it. Today was the beginning of a process to test if they’re willing to do that.”
Although the MTA expressed the willingness to reach out to the community, the senator said the agency did not agree on bigger issues such as those related to improving the service or providing more substitutes.
For example, one substitute that was shot down by the agency was Gianaris’ suggestion to offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city.
“The limited good news is that they are engaging in a dialogue with the community on what is needed,” Gianaris said. “The not-so-great news is when we expressed what the community needs, we didn’t get that far. But the dialogue will continue.”
The MTA previously said the latest round of work is expected to modernize, improve and fortify the Flushing No. 7 line. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
When Lounge 47 closed on Vernon Boulevard, I have to admit I was extremely sad. One of the chefs had been the owner of a bar on the street where I live, which closed last year and became a panini shop, and another contributing chef—Julie Powell—had written a book that became a movie that inspired my own career—as well as the lives of many others I know. But that is all a part of what happens when you write about restaurants for a while. A place that held special memories and conversations will disappear in the blink of an eye if you aren’t watching carefully. And that is how it seemed to me with Lounge 47. One day I was sipping a coffee with Julie Powell, discussing her career and her friendship with Joss Whedon, and the next time I drove by, a new sign read, Woodbines.
It took me a moment to be able to enter Woodbines without any previous opinion. I know that the new owners had not personally pushed my friends out the door—it just seemed like I needed to at least grieve for a minute, anyway. But when I did decide to stop in and see what was going on, I was instantly reminded of something I have always known. When one door closes, another opens.
Woodbines is an absolutely fantastic addition to the Vernon Boulevard corridor in Long Island City. Serving pub-style Irish dishes alongside American favorites, they really showcase a few plates of note—with some pretty solid drinks, as well.
The Scotch egg arrives halved, and drizzled with spicy mustard for just $5—the same price as a handful of their snacks, which also include jerk chicken, fried pickles, and miniature sausages wrapped in a flaky pastry crust that come five to an order.
Lamb nachos headline for appetizers, and the lunchtime Woodbines burger is stacked with a blanket of Irish cheddar, thick smoked bacon, and a mound of Irish slaw. It is disastrously messy, so plan on forking up every bite that falls to the plate.
Of course they serve shepherd’s pie and lamb meatloaf (with hon
ey ginger ketchup), but their pride and joy are the fish & chips, battered an India Pale Ale. For lunch on weekdays, you can get a cheeseburger, chicken Caesar salad, or chicken sandwich for just $10 that comes with a soft drink or mug of coffee.
Be sure to check out the drink list, which features growlers and around eight different whiskey flights, 14 canned beers, and two pages of bottled beers, ciders, and cocktails like the Old Woody — Woodford Reserve with orange bitters, sugar, muddled orange and cherry, and served with a large ice cube.
But the best part is that the staff seems to be the same kind of folks I love anywhere I go. The bartender, Daniel, runs a sketch comedy group based out of Astoria, and managed to serve me with a perfect balance of humor and sincerity. Those are the things you can’t put a price tag on. And since I am addicted to those little sausage rolls and scotch eggs, it looks like I may have a new favorite place to add to my list.
The No. 7 train will soon be going through another round of suspensions causing it to not run in parts of western Queens and Manhattan for more than a dozen weekends this year, starting in the end of February, according to a notice from the MTA.
This news again upset residents, business owners and local politicians who gathered in front of the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue subway station on Friday to tell the MTA they are fed up with the constant disruptions and the lack of notice.
“Real people’s lives are affected in real ways here, this is not a game,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “This is about human beings, they’re trying to survive and the MTA is trying to kill us. We’ve got to stop this now.”
From February through July, there will be 13 weekend suspensions. Those dates are finalized, the transit agency said. There are nine tentative weekend shutdowns scheduled for August through November.
Business owners are tired of potential financial losses, residents are sick of longer commutes and local politicians just want the MTA to finally listen to their ideas and communicate with the neighborhood.
“It outrageous and all we are asking for is the opportunity to be heard, to present some common sense ideas that we have presented to them year after year after year,” said Senator Michael Gianaris, who has suggested the MTA offer a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city. “The MTA needs to listen to us once and for all.”
Rebecca Trent, LIC resident and owner of The Creek and The Cave on Jackson Avenue, said the area has grown by 500 percent and the suspension will only make business owners’ jobs harder.
“I don’t know how I’m going to survive this, I do not know and neither do many of my neighbors,” Trent said holding back tears. “What they are trying to do to this neighborhood is disgusting, we deserve better, enough is enough.”
Along with the shuttle service through the Midtown tunnel, Trent also said that in order to compensate the Long Island City community for the “irresponsible shutdowns,” the MTA should give local businesses, who will suffer, free ad space at the E and G subway stations and on the trains.
Richard Mazda, artistic director for The Secret Theatre, said he has had to put up with the disruptions to his business every single year and has faced problems during the annual LIC Arts Open festival, with artists and friends not being able to attend.
“You must have known that you were going to do this work, you have stage managed the release of this information so that we couldn’t fight you, but we will,” Mazda said to the MTA. “This is like the worst movie you have ever seen.”
The latest round of work, including continued installation of Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC), replacement of critical track panels and reconstruction inside the Steinway Tube under the East River, is expected to modernize, improve a fortify the Flushing No. 7 line, according to the MTA. The work will also include tunnel duct reconstruction and replacement and improvements on components damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
“We understand that these service disruptions are inconvenient to the customers who depend on the No. 7 train and we appreciate their patience,” said MTA NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco. “We have made every effort to schedule these project simultaneously to get as much work done as we can during these periods.”
In July, the owners of The Laughing Devil Comedy Club, located at 47-38 Vernon Boulevard, announced they would put the venue up for sale.
After nearly two months of searching for the perfect buyer, Steve Hofstetter, co-owner, decided to buy out his partner, Jacob Morvay.
“With my move to LA and my business partner’s new baby, selling the club made sense, but it was not my first choice,” said Hofstetter. “After we had a buyer that backed out at the last minute, our second best offer was to turn it into a bar – and I did not want to see that happen.”
Hofstetter and Morvay started the business in 2011. It became a part of the Long Island City community as it hosted various stand-up shows featuring celebrity comedians.
Along with purchasing the venue, Hofstetter said there will be some additional changes taking place at the comedy club. A wall will be put up to divide the bar and showroom, allowing comedians and patrons to hang out while a show is taking place.
The Laughing Devil will also begin showing classic movies, like “Spaceballs” and “The Big Lebowski,” on Wednesday nights and weekend afternoons.
“I will be passing on some opportunities in LA and coming back to NYC every so often to ensure that the Laughing Devil is here to stay,” said Hofstetter. “In other words, we’re back and we’re better than ever.”
It looks like the laughs might be coming to an end.
The owners of The Laughing Devil Comedy Club, located at 47-38 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, have announced the venue will be put up for sale.
“It has been successful to date, but my business partner, Steve, moved out to [Los Angeles] for his career, and I had a baby about 11 months ago,” said Jacob Morvay, co-owner of the club. “So we both had changes in our lives that have taken a significant portion of time.”
Morvay and Steve Hofstetter started the business in 2011. It became a lovable part of the Vernon Boulevard community, hosting numerous stand-up shows featuring celebrity comedians.
The owners hope the venue will remain a comedy club since there are not many entertainment options in Long Island City.
“Our first choice is that it would stay the same — just a different owner,” said Morvay. “But there are other options for the space. “
Morvay said the club’s neighborhood is a popular one and that the property would come with a liquor license, a big draw for prospective buyers. He also touted a state-of-the-art draft beer system which includes 14 different beers and is already installed.
The owners have told other business in the area about the club being up for sale. They said reactions have been supportive, if also a bit melancholy. Morvay and Hofstetter are in talks with potential buyers of the 770-square-foot facility, which has the capacity to expand by another 100 square feet in the back.
“We’ve put a lot of time and effort [into] it,” said Morvay. “It’s definitely a labor of love that we are sad to see go, but we have decided what’s best for the business.”