Sunday, March 4, 2012

Figuring Out FoHi

One thing we could definitely use here in Forest Hills is an independent coffee place. Why there are like a zillion of these in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and zilch here in Forest Hills is beyond me.

Here's a photo I took of the O Cafe on 6th Ave. and 12th Street in Manhattan. This is the type of place I'm talking about.


The closest thing we have to a coffee place like this is La Boulangerie. They do brew great coffee and it's a great place to hang out, albeit a little small.

Here in Forest Hills it seems all of our coffee places are of the diner or bakery variety And, of course, there's Starbucks. It's time we joined the modern era here and someone opened an independent coffee house, or two.

This goes to something I've been thinking about for a while. That our neighborhood is still very misunderstood by retailers and restauranteurs when it comes to places to just kick back and relax and have a cup of coffee or a drink with friends. Just look at what has dominated the local scene up until now - sports bars, like Exo Cafe, or calorie-laden bakeries that also happen to serve coffee as an afterthought.

And meanwhile, the biggest success locally in recent years has been the most upscale of the bunch, La Boulangerie.

Walk into La Boulangerie and you can't help but be struck by how many people are just soaking in the wonderful atmosphere, unwinding with a coffee or something to eat. It's obvious that Forest Hills' residents are just aching for more places like this. I think any that open would be astonished by how popular they would be. Enough with the sports bars. We have plenty of those. When are more business owners going to cater to the sophisticated residents of FoHi who frequent places like La Boulangerie?

When Bareburger opens this month I think everyone will be amazed at how popular it is. Why? Because, once again, it caters to a sophisticated clientele that has been grossly underserved here in Forest Hills.

16 comments:

  1. crossing queens blvdMarch 5, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    This is exactly what Old Vienna Cafe SHOULD have been, a friendly laid-back place to relax and have some coffee, dessert, or a lite bite to eat.

    Old Vienna miscalculated both the demand for their food and atmosphere they created.

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  2. Couldn't agree more. Last weekend my wife and I had to walk to kew gardens in order to get some coffee and be able to actually sit down. Starbucks in our neighborhood barely have any seating and boulangerie is obviously great, but often way too crowded to get a seat.

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  3. Boulangerie would have hit a home run had they found a larger space that had easier access for strollers and handicapp. Wouldn't it be nice if they opened a larger "cafe" and kept the smaller space for quick "to go" orders and baking only. Hmmmmm...

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  4. Boulangerie should have been in the Old Vienna space. That would have been a home run.

    Bareburger should be in the Old Vienna space. That would have been a grand slam!

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  5. It is so obvious by the popularity of all the posts regarding Austin Street and store/restaurant options in Forest Hills that there is a real demand for better options. It is frustrating to see the potential, the demand and yet nothing really has been done with the exception of La Boulangerie. Besides posting, wishing and complaining-does anyone have any suggestions on how to take this to the next level???

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    1. Annie, I don't think this is something you can just arrange. It has to happen on its own. As certain types of quality businesses succeed and other low-quality ones fail, people will eventually get the message.

      Someone wrote on this blog a while ago that there really hasn't been a lot of competition on Austin St. when it comes to excellent food options. And when that sort of environment exists, where is the motivation for better places to open here?

      But just look at the new places that have recently opened, or are about to - there are some really good ones in the bunch, maybe the best we've seen in Forest Hills. I think all that we still need is a good diner and an indie coffee place.

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    2. I agree with you-just being impatient!!! : )I just wish there were a way to better "curate" what is offered in terms of stores and restaurant options.

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  6. We absolutely need some of these...I actually got kicked out of La Boulangerie last week for sitting for too long...we need more options in the 'hood, and fewer hookah bars.

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    1. Are you kidding? How did they dare kick you out??? I hope at least politely. Still, not a wise business decision.

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    2. They were polite...but the thing that irritated me off was there was a woman sitting next to me who had been there for longer than me who they didn't ask to leave (she was sitting reading magazines). I told them I didn't mind, but they needed to be consistent with their policies.

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    3. I'm just curious - can you explain more about why they asked you to leave? How did they decide that you in particular should leave and other people shouldn't? I see so many people sitting in La Boulangerie all the time so I'm curious how they go about and deciding how one customer out of all of them has reached a time limit to eat there.

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  7. Do you guys think or know enough coffee connoisseurs/freaks in the forest hills area? By that I meant ones who don't like Starbucks because they use very cheap, low quality beans, that are chemically washed, machine picked/sorted, burnt and pay the coffee plantation workers cents a day?

    I'm considering opening a health food store that would also focus on selling gourmet coffee, some of the best in the world.

    This would definitely be a relaxing atmosphere from the hustle and bustle of dirty (compared to other places) NYC. Does forest hills strike you as the type of neighborhood with enough health-conscious people who want healthier options for snacks/small meal type food and great coffee? Keep in mind the prices are going to be higher than dunkin and Starbucks.

    I recently moved to Forest Hills and it seems very nice and affluent enough. I just am not too sure on how many people would be interested in it. But you brought a good point with Le Boulangerie. They serve high quality foods in smaller amounts for higher prices and people are willing to pay for it.

    What do you guys think? It could be around before the summer starts if things go well and we found an adequate space.

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    1. Ricky,
      We have a lot of health food stores. I think what people would get excited about would be an independent coffee shop with tables and chairs and couches to relax and spend some time. If you opened a place like that, I don't think price would be a factor for the crowd that would frequent it. Look at La Boulangerie and how great they are doing.

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    2. Actually, here's another way to think about what we need in Forest Hills food-wise: the most basic stuff that you would take for granted just about anywhere else. For instance, a really good upscale diner-type place, we don't have it; a place to get really good sandwiches, we don't have it; an upscale place just to get a great breakfast - we don't have it. Notice I don't use the word "health" anywhere here. We can worry about our health later. First, we need the very basics! Good luck!

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  8. Indie coffee shops: yes yes yes.

    Sports Bars: no no no.

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  9. We do not need another health food store. But we absolutely desperately and truly need a good vibe indie coffee shop!!!! I've been hoping for the five years I've been living in Forest Hills, but no luck yet.

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