Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Late Fees — Forever!

Strolling through the Blockbuster video store on 70th Road in Forest Hills the other evening was a bit depressing indeed. With the store closing virtually everything is being sold off - even the store shelves and a TV hanging on the wall (it was going for something like $400).

I spent many a lazy afternoon combing the aisles of Blockbuster searching for just the right video (remember when we called them that?) As the world goes digital it definitely means amazing advances - we can call up a library of information into our living rooms via the Internet, and you know it's not too far off when virtually any movie ever made will be available to stream to our TV's or computers whenever we want them as well. So, yes, life gets easier. But will all this stuff being piped into my home through the cable line turn me into the Ultimate Couch Potato?

Will I soon look like one of those guys on WALL-E's space ship?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More on New Exo Cafe

I stopped into the new Exo Cafe just to see it for myself and take a look at their menu. I didn't have the time to eat there yet, but I did speak a bit to the hostess. She told me they don't have a take out menu yet, so I am only going by memory here with these menu observations:
  1. The place is definitely a good fit for our neighborhood. It has a lounge feel, a cool place to get together with friends for a quick bite or a drink.
  2. I was impressed that they are trying to have a strong selection of craft beers. Almost half of the back of the menu was devoted to craft beer. 
  3. The menu is very reasonably priced. Burgers, sandwiches, salads all seemed to top off around $12.
  4. The burgers were quite creative - Hawaiian Burger anyone?
  5. They also have a large selection of appetizers.
  6. The moody lighting makes this place not a "family-friendly" restaurant, which I was kind of hoping it would be. Why not an upbeat place for brunch like we desperately need here in Forest Hills? Instead, another moody, more night-life oriented venue. Hey, I'm not really complaining because God knows we need some good food in Forest Hills! Now, let's just hope the food is good!
Click here for a couple of reviews from Yelp! 


This extremely frightening development in our national affairs, where this irresponsible public official from Long Island is singling out one group of our fellow Americans as traitorous to our country is repugnant and a threat to all of us eventually. I am sure every single one of us, at one point in our ancestral history, had members of our families who were persecuted just for whom they were. And we must never forget that it is the responsibility of every single freedom-loving American to fight this ugliness whenever it rears its head.

From The NY Times:
Peter King’s Obsession
Published: March 7, 2011
The House Homeland Security Committee’s hearings on American Muslims seem to be more about stoking fear than healing ethnic misunderstanding.

Of course, nothing casts a reflection on us better than excellent science fiction. If you can, please take the eight and a half minutes to watch the clip from Star Trek below. If you don't have that much time, I would suggest starting at around 7 minutes into it, almost near the end. Vigilance!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Exo Cafe Opens

I haven't tried it yet, just walked by Sunday evening and noticed it was fairly crowded. But I did find this pretty comprehensive first review from someone on the Queens Central Message Board: Exo Cafe - First impression and review Overall, the person liked it and thinks it's a good addition to the neighborhood. I look forward to trying it out sometime in the next week or so...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Exo Cafe looked fairly crowded late this afternoon. Has a loungey feel to it.

Good Reading for a Rainy Sunday Morning

In case you missed it, today's Times real estate section's cover story focuses on 'It’ Buildings of the Other Boroughs and singles out just two buildings in Queens, both of which are right here in Forest Hills: the Kennedy House and Twenty Continental Avenue aka The Inn Apartments.

‘It’ Buildings of the Other Boroughs
Published: March 4, 2011
Boldface apartment buildings aren’t for Manhattan only. Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens also have addresses with bragging rights.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Agora Taverna Side View

My roving reporter was busy today around town. He shot this photo of the side of the Agora Taverna, the new Greek restaurant moving into the old location of Piu Bello on Austin. It is looking nice. They will be able to open these windows on nice days, a touch I always like when dining...

What's Up With Greenline Organic?

My reporter shot these pics today of the inside of the relatively new Greenline Organic store on Austin St., wondering why the shelves were so bare? He has been of the opinion that they would have a tough time making a go of it here in Forest Hills given the immense popularity of Natural and Natural's size and selection given that Greenline is quite smaller. I have also noticed that Greenline has seemed to really limit their selection in recent months. But I wonder what is up with the bare shelves? Are they getting ready to close?

Friday, March 4, 2011

New CVS for North Side of Queens Blvd.?

... that's what I hear... but this is unconfirmed at this point. Today brought the news that What A Deal!!! will be closing in 6 days, and the jeweler on that block is also closing its doors. So, there is a whole row of stores on that block next to the Key Food either vacant or soon-to-be.

What a Deal!!! next to Key Food closing in 6 days (at least sign says "6 Days Left"). Latest on that strip to close.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New Austin Restaurant Pics

My top-notch roving reporter snapped these this morning:

The new sign for the Agora Taverna is up (this is the Greek restaurant moving into the old Piu Bello location).

A quick peak into the new Exo Cafe showed it is nearing completion. 

The (kinda scary) Birds of Forest Hills

How about a little wildlife break? It's sometimes hard to forget that New York City is actually situated on Mother Earth and has things like animals, plants, and yes, even birds. I ran across this cool blog post/video of a Red-tailed hawk munching away on something not very appetizing in our very own MacDonald Park: Red-tailed hawk luncheon in Forest Hills, Queens

Oh, and of course you know I couldn't pass up a post about birds without including one my favorite movie scenes ever:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Blockbuster No More

This probably comes as no surprise to anyone with a Netflix account. Blockbuster is closing its store on 70th Road in Forest Hills.. and they're having a big sale as they do, too. And this means another prime storefront will soon be available on "restaurant row." Do you hear that Shake Shack?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Marianella's New Sign

The sign/awning is up for the new Mexican restaurant, Marianella's Taqueria, at 106-11 71st Avenue.

A reader snapped this pic with his cell phone and sent it in to me...

Medical Hall Pharmacy Closes

After 42 years, the Medical Hall Pharmacy, on the north side of Queens Blvd., near the Key Food, has shut its doors. A sign says all former prescriptions are now being handled by the Rite Aid Pharmacy on Austin St. This is but the latest store along that strip to close. Rumors are something big may be afoot, or it could be nothing at all - just a sign of the still depressed economy.

This was what Cord Meyer had once proposed for that corner. Are the plans back on?

Ahhhhh, Forest Hills living... if it's not the delightful smell of moth balls wafting up from the apartment below, it's the unmistakable screeching of a modem trying to connect!

Spitzer Sans Parker

Well, that didn't take long...

Kathleen Parker Out at CNN's 'Parker Spitzer'

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Mexican Restaurant's Website Is Up

The Website for Marianella's Taqueria, the new Mexican restaurant opening on 71st/Continental Ave. next to McDonald's (exact address is 106-11 71st Avenue) is now live.

Here is the link to the site, which includes its menu:

Thanks to Mike for posting the link on the new Edge of the City Facebook Page

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Forest Hills High, Meet Broadway

.... via the soon-to-open, $0 Spiderman musical!

Yes, you read that right:

ArtsBeat: A Second Spider-Man Musical Swings Into Town
Published: February 22, 2011
Frustrated by the delays that have engulfed “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” an improv comedian and composer has decided to open his own show about that comic-book wall-crawler one day earlier.

Mr. Moran said his “Spidey Project,” which has a book written by him and Jon Roufaeal and a score composed by Adam Podd and Doug Katsaros, will “100 percent” follow the origin story laid out for Spider-Man in Marvel Comics: “It’s Peter Parker, in high school at Forest Hills when he gets bitten by the spider and all that good stuff.”

Monday, February 21, 2011

This Week's Poll

First, the results from last week's poll.

The question was Which of the Austin/71st Continental drugstores do you prefer? Duane Reade or Rite Aid?

25 votes were cast and here are the results:

As I expected, local NYC chain Duane Reade was the most popular with 13 votes (52 percent of the vote).
Rite Aid came in second place with 9 votes (36 percent).
And 3 people entered other choices:
2 voted for CVS
1 voted for CostCo.

Personally, I find both Duane Reade and Rite Aid to frequently be out of stock on items. When it comes to the overall shopping experience, however, the thing that sticks out in my mind the most are Duane Reade's lines. Even with their new roped-off lines, which have done away with the scary line chaos and near-brawls that used to ensue, the lines are still so intimidating looking and good God they are still ALWAYS long. It is like winning a jackpot to see no one on line at Duane Reade.

I increasingly prefer the Rite Aid on Queens Blvd. near 75th Ave. It feels bigger, kind of like a suburban drugstore, with more space to shop, more stuff in stock and shorter lines.

Now on to this week's poll:

Only in New York?

How about a traveling antique store? As seen on the Upper West Side on Sunday...

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Ok, I've spent a heck of a lot of time in Grand Central, as I'm sure most of you have. Now, am I crazy, but how in the world can Apple open its biggest store in the world there?

Confirmed: Apple To Build Biggest Store Yet In Grand Central Terminal

I especially like the part of the article that says Apple may have to take down walls of Grand Central to fit its biggest store in there. Jackie O must be rolling over in her grave! Of course, they can't take down walls of Grand Central! It's a protected historic structure. But leave it to a technology blog to not have the slightest idea what "protected historic structure" means!

I kid the technology blog (not really).

Supposedly, they say, Apple wants to open a store in Grand Central to alleviate the crowding at its Fifth Avenue store. Now, that I can believe.

Thinking Ahead To Spring

The nice weather has me in a Spring-like mood. Here's one of the things to look forward to this Spring - the opening of the second phase of the High Line. It will extend the High Line all the way up to 30th Street. If you haven't gone to the High Line yet, I highly (pun intended), recommend it! I actually have been wanting it to snow again because I'd like to see what it looks like covered in snow. (Next time it snows, or shortly after, that's where you'll find me!)

Here's a short video tour of phase 2:

Poll Results So Far: Battle of the Drugstores

Here are the results so far from this week's poll, the Battle of the Austin St. / 71st Continental Corner Drugstore chains:

Duane Reade, perhaps as expected given its unique relationship with New Yorkers, is in the lead with 9 votes, giving it 45 percent of the vote so far.

In a close second place is Rite Aid with 8 votes and 40 percent of the vote. I have to admit Rite Aid is holding its own and doing better than I expected it to.

And 3 voters have opted to favor neither of the chains, giving "Other" 15 percent of the vote.

If you haven't voted yet, the poll is still open.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Austin Restaurant Developments

As I wrote in my previous post, a sign is up for the new restaurant coming into the old Piu Bello location at the corner of Austin and 70th Ave. The restaurant will be called Agora Taverna and will serve Greek food.

Meanwhile, across the street, the new Exo Cafe looks like it is almost ready to open. Here are a couple of photos:

New Greek restaurant where Piu Bello used to be is called Agora Taverna.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

PJ's Steakhouse / Grill

I finally finished watching the entire episode of Kitchen Nightmares that was shot here in Forest Hills, at the old PJ's Steakhouse on Yellowstone, and that aired on Channel 5 a couple of weeks ago. I actually found it really touching! I liked Kitchen Nightmares beforehand having seen it a couple of times (actually, the British version), but I have to say that this episode, if you haven't seen it, is a real treat for us Forest Hillers. You have to watch it to see what I mean - it includes interviews with local people on Austin/71st Continental, lots of shots of the neighborhood, and also you just might spot one of your neighbors eating at the restaurant.

It's a real struggle as the two proprietors try to turn this restaurant around. In the end, they end up selling it - their hearts, it seems, were just not in the restaurant business. It was touching because I think anyone can identify with them. Life threw them a curve ball - the death of a close family member - and the restaurant was used as a way for them both to emerge from their grief. Unfortunately, a restaurant is something you have to put your entire heart and soul into - it's not just a therapeutic tool. But I feel for them, I really do.

On the site of the old PJ's today is a German restaurant, Manor Oktoberfest, which has been getting pretty good reviews, according to a commenter on this blog and also Yelp.

Anyway, if you haven't seen the show, here it is below...

Kitchen Nightmares in Forest Hills - Part Two

I finally got around to watching some of the episode of Kitchen Nightmares shot at what used to be PJ's Steakhouse on Yellowstone Blvd. If you missed it, the episode is available here:

Kitchen Nightmares, “PJ’s Steakhouse”: pathetic joke, that’s what it stands for

As I said in a previous post, this brought up so many feelings for me. One of the reasons I started doing this blog was to encourage better quality restaurants to open in Forest Hills. When I moved to the neighborhood more than a decade ago, my God there were some atrocious places. There still are. And you probably know the ones I am talking about. (Feel free to post about your own experiences with them either below or on the Discussion Board of our Facebook Page. )

I watched about 20 minutes of the Kitchen Nightmares episode so far. Here are my thoughts:

1) It's a real eye-opener how a restaurant can look just great and have terrible food. It makes me think of that cool-looking diner that until just a few years ago used to be on Restaurant Row (70th Road) here in Forest Hills. I don't remember the name of it, but it had kind of a retro-diner feel. But the food was horrible.

2) I love the part of the show where he finds plastic in his crab cakes. This always amazes me. A restaurant has one task to do: serve you good food. And this place served the poor guy plastic in his otherwise rancid crabcakes! It would be hysterically funny really, if it wasn't so sad. And this brings up another memory of mine. After I had first moved here I once stopped in at the old bagel place that used to be next to the Key Food (I think it is where What a Deal!!! is now). I ordered a bagel and cream cheese, took a bite and almost broke my teeth. Half of a plastic straw had somehow been placed inside my bagel on top of the cream cheese!

Since I moved here, these horrible restaurants have thankfully closed and some pretty good ones have started to open in and around the neighborhood. I am very hopeful that the restaurant scene here will only continue to improve. I am especially looking forward to the new places on Austin: Exo and the yet-to-be-named seafood restaurant across from it where Piu Bello used to be.

After all, before I lived here in Forest Hills, I lived for several years in Park Slope - and I can assure you the restaurants there back in the 90's were just as bad as the ones described above and now that neighborhood is world-class when it comes to places to eat.

RIP Kenneth Mars

New Facebook Page

By the way, if you haven't already, check out our new Facebook Page where you can post about whatever you'd like. You'll also find a growing archive of photos, including a gallery of The Blizzard of 2010 and The Forest Hills Tornado. There is also a Discussion Board on the Page with a few topics already started - Restaurants, Shopping and In the News. I will also occasionally post to the Page some items that won't appear here on the Blog.

You can reach the new Page either from the link at the right, or by clicking here: Edge of the City Facebook Page

Road Rage

I've received one email about, and have also noticed online, a lot of anger welling up about the state of Forest Hills' streets. The recent thaw has uncovered some dangerous and destructive potholes.

One of the most mysterious is this one shown in the photos below at the corner of 72nd Ave. and 112th Street. On the morning of Thanksgiving Day a road crew closed off the street to traffic and did some major work on the road, digging it up, according to one local resident. And ever since then, this person told me, sections of the road have been sinking. And now this pothole has appeared, which caused cars to have to drive around it.

Now, potholes have always been a problem in the City. I remember years ago, when I used to drive a lot, one of the worst roads was the Cross Bronx Expressway. It was like being on a ship in the middle of a storm - the car just went up... and down.... up... and down.

I don't know if the potholes are any worse than they used to be. But given the economy, I wouldn't be surprised if there is less money being allocated to fixing them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope everyone's love blossoms today (ew, how corny... I don't even know where that came from.)

This is a bit of a wild Valentine's Day here in The Hills. Let's see, when you walk around you are being buffeted by 65 mile an hour winds, and it is like 60 degrees or something, and there are mounds of dirty snow all over the place...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Revolution, As Seen From Space

This is what Cairo's Tahrir Square looked like from space last week (click on the image for a close-up) :

Taken February 11, 11:18 a.m. local time. Photo courtesy of DigitalGlobe.

This Week's Poll

First, the results from last week's poll:

I am most looking forward to:

The opening of Marianela Taqueria, the new Mexican restaurant on 71st Continental 27.03% (10 votes)

The opening of the new seafood restaurant, in the old Piu Bello location on Austin St. 43.24% (16 votes)

The opening of the new "Ripe"-owned restaurant where Mardi Gras used to be 24.32% (9 votes)

Other: 5.41% (2 votes):
The closing of all medicore, filthy restaurants

Whatever will replace Q

Total Votes: 37

Now on to this week's poll:

Heat Wave

All the heaters have now officially been turned off in the Edge of the City Compound, a sure sign that Spring can not be too far off!

One of the best things I ever did was have the Super fix every single radiator in the apartment when I moved in so that I could turn each one on and off. Of course, like every single other apartment I have ever lived in in New York City, all of the heaters had long before broken to the point where they were all stuck in the on position. So, whenever the temperature outside would suddenly spike like it is doing today and tomorrow, I used to just resort to opening the windows rather than succumb to heat stroke. Of course, a little luck has allowed me the "luxury" of fixed heaters: Until now my Supers have either been extremely incompetent or incredibly unhelpful.

But think of how much energy is wasted by all the thousands of NYC apartments with old heaters stuck on? And how much discomfort, as well, to those of you having to put up with it. It should be a law that every single heater in every single NYC apartment can be turned on and off.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Restaurant news: Sign for Exo now up where Mardi Gras used to be on Austin; Piu Bello, in new location across from Post Office, was closed Saturday night...

Drunk With Power ?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love / Hate ?

As I watch these amazing images of celebration in Cairo today, I can only imagine the feelings the average Egyptian has towards our country - on the one hand, they must hate the fact that we propped up with billions of dollars the tyrannical regime that kept them from reaching their human potential for the past almost 30 years. But, on the other, we gave them Facebook, Twitter and the Internet, the tools they used to successfully overthrow that same tyrant.

Forest Hills Gardens on HBO

Remember when they were filming in The Gardens some scenes for that remake of Mildred Pierce, this time with Kate Winslet instead of Joan Crawford?

Well, a date for the miniseries to air has been set: March 27th.

Here's a link to the website: HBO Mildred Piece - A Five-Part Miniseries Coming March 2011!