Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Garcia's Closes

The Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce sent out a tweet last night announcing that Garcia's Mexican Cafe, located on the second floor of the Austin Street 'Mall', has closed its doors after 25 years in business. My take is that the opening of Chipotle just across the street probably took away a lot of Garcia's business. The neighborhood just couldn't support so many Mexican food places and 5 Burro Cafe remains extremely popular (and quite excellent in my opinion). Now attention turns to what will take the place of Garcia's. It's a fantastic location for another restaurant, what with the outdoor seating and large space inside...


64 comments:

  1. Garcia's was OK but not a favorite place of mine. Sorry to see any business close its doors but with all the great restaurants popping up in the neighborhood lately I hope the trend continues with whatever phoenix rises out of the ... well you get the analogy.

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  2. Bummer. Always loved the location but with the beyond excellent 5 Burro 'Ritas and food just down the block, I am quite guilty of always choosing Burro over Garcia's when hankering for Mexican food. Fingers crossed we get something completely fun and new (and non-Mexican!)

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  3. My take is that the food was bland, the decor was dingy and dirty and the management and staff was apathetic.

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  4. Chipotle killed Garcia's? Really? Apples and oranges. Garcia's was a table-service, full menu restaurant that served not only wine and beer, but hard liquor. They operated at a completely different price point and level of service than does Chipotle. To suggest that Chipotle, a fast-food establishment, significantly affected Garcia's business is ill-considered.

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    1. I agree with you they are different types of places, but it's a little coincidental that this place was around for 25 years and less than a year after good fast-food Mexican opens right nearby it closes. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that some people who in the past had a hankering for Mexican food and would've gone to Garcia's when 5 Burro's was pretty much the only local option would now head over to Chipotle across the street for a cheaper and quicker fix.

      This, and as someone was tweeting with me last night, all the other new good restaurants that have opened had something to do with Garcias' demise.

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    2. Well, Drake, you may have hit the nail on the head--"all the other new good restaurants..." If a place is merely average and other places are good or better, then even a longtime neighborhood establishment is going suffer, but you are going to have a hard time convincing me and I think many others that Chipotle had any more to do with this place's demise than the recent opening of any other neighborhood restaurant. Anyone willing to go for the cheap, quick Mexican fix at Chipotle probably was not gonna fork over the money for a meal that would likely cost at least twice the price. And most people wanting sit-down dining and table service for dinner out with friends were likely not gonna go to Chipotle. If Garcia's lost any customers at all to Chipotle, it was a very small percentage.

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    3. I think you're probably right - Chipotle wasn't a huge factor, but maybe a small one in the demise of Garcia's. While you and I don't equate the two types of places, it's hard to know for sure what everyone else thinks or does. For some people, they may have wanted Mexican food and been on the way to Garcia's and seen Chipotle across the street and decided at the last minute it was a better option for one reason or another. Heck, Chipotle even has margaritas. So if you're looking to have a drink and some guac and chips with a couple of friends, it's a cheaper option, though not even sure how much cheaper actually.

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    4. Agree that Chipotle contributed a very small percentage to Garcia's demise. Both places are labeled as Mexican but are far from comparable otherwise. Maybe it was just as simple as their lease was coming due and the landlord wanted a lot more money for that space.

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  5. We went there once. We weren't impressed and didn't return.

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  6. Very sad. The owner of the restaurant was a good guy and very attuned to the neighborhood and the community. When Piu Bello's freezer broke right before the Night Out Against Crime event in August 2012 (being used for the meat the FH Volunteer Ambulance Corp used for the BBQ), Agora REFUSED to help. On the other hand, Garcia's only questions were "When do you need it? How much room in our freezer do you need?"

    A loss to the community on many levels.

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    1. Knowing the owner personally this doesn't surprise me because he is a very honest, hardworking good hearted individual, I hope he goes on to bigger and better because he deserves it .

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  7. I always found Garcia's on the same level as "Dallas BBQ" in the city. If you've been there, you know exactly what I mean. It was mediocre at best, serving large dishes for low prices attracting a....hmm....a young demographic who didnt know any better about good food. I'm not trying to be a troll, I went there a couple times trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, but when your bathroom looks worse than most college dorms, its a sign that the place needed to go. I prefer spending a few extra bucks for a cleaner, more satisfying experience.

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    1. well put, totally agree

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  8. I also think the opening of Chipotle had something to do with Garcia's closing. Maybe I'm in the minority with how I think, but I believe that most often people will choose the lowest cost option when dining out. So, with Mexican food, why not eat at Chipotle if it's cheaper than Garcia's, and you're not really too concerned with waiter service and such? Many of us in FH are on a tighter budget than you think, and appreciate good value.

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  9. I've lived in Forest Hills for 10 years and never even knew this place existed. So much for getting the word out.

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  10. No tears shed here. Garcia's was one of the first Mexican places I tried out when I moved here from Astoria. Food was awful, bland, like a Mexican Applebee's. Glad to see better food options are forcing the mediocre options around Austin to up their game.

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  11. They should demolish Garcias and the whole condo tower. It is disgusting.

    Don't really care about the restaurants here, only because the people I like and admire aren't here. I want to meet some folks and they don't even hang out around town here. I do go out only to escape my own apartment and it isn't what I want to be doing anymore. Trying to meet someone who is single and really sweet and nice. And the problem is while I am living here, everyone else I want to meet or be with is far away from here.

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    1. What does this have to do with Garcia's? If FH doesn't work for you then go for greener pastures elsewhere

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  12. Ate there once. The food wasn't bad, but it wasn't great enough to make me want to go back. I also don't like that building/mall. It has seen better days, and it is an odd location for any eatery. There's just something depressing about that place.

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  13. I'm very disappointed about this. What's going to take its place? I'm almost afraid to ask. Probably an Applebee's or something equally generic. The Middle America corporate chain vibe in this neighborhood is getting way out of hand.

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    1. That's why I escape to Metropolitan

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    2. But isn't FH a middle class neighborhood? While I'm not a fan of every chain/mall type eatery and store on and around Austin St., I do appreciate the value and the lower cost options they present those of us on a budget with. Applebee's may not be gourmet, but it's affordable. That's why Fridays, Pizzeria Uno, Chipotle, etc. are doing great, affordability! Do you really think an upscale, high-priced gourmet restaurant would ever succeed on Austin St.?

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    3. I think the trio of bars (Banter, Flying Pig, Station House) are trying to be a little upscale. Frankly I don't consider Applebee's, Fridays, Pizzeria Uno and Buffalo Wild Wings middle class hangouts. You find them in crappier neighborhoods. Chipotle is possibly the only exception because, like Shake Shack, it's trying to make junk food respectable.

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    4. Sorry, I disagree about finding Fridays, Uno, Wings, etc in crappier neighborhoods. These are all established family chain restaurants that are commonly found in middle class suburban neighborhoods, which I consider Forest Hills to be. Maybe that's why they're all in our hood ;) Can you imagine the success if a Denny's or IHOP opened here too?!

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    5. "Middle America" isn't synonymous with middle class. I'm not opposed to there being affordable restaurant options in FH (or affordable anything, for that matter); what I *don't* want is the neighborhood to start resembling some tacky strip mall from Anytown U.S.A. C'mon, we're all New Yorkers here, we should be putting up more of a resistance when faced with this kind of soulless homogenization!

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  14. French Bistro Please!

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    1. Yeah, remember Rouge? Replaced by mediocre Aged.

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    2. I was sad to see Rouge leave and even less happy after a meal at Aged. Seems like the owners only are there to make money. They don't care much about the product they are selling. With a little passion and care it could have been a nice replacement.

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  15. I moved from Astoria in December which had zero good Mexican restaurants (the one sit down place Las Margaritas is horrible). My fiancee and I tried Garcia's first and should have found it suspicious that the place was empty at prime dinner hours on a Saturday night. We didn't absolutely hate it, but we haven't been back and have been to 5 Burro a few times. I've even gone to Chipotle a couple times since then. I wish 5 Burro had the size Garcia's had, it's so tiny in there and waiting outside when the temperatures drop is not an appealing idea.

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  16. Yeah, that mall structure is ugly and out of place. But it's here, we're stuck with it, so here is my wish list for Garcias' space: bistro, cafe of coffee house with wi-fi; German restaurant; authentic Puerto Rican or Cuban food; some sort of art space; craft store with lessons. Any of those would add diversity to the neighborhood experience.

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  17. Garcia's was a good place especially back when it was Sgt. Garcia's. It was a very popular after- work hangout. RIP... May the next place and some value and quality to Austin Street eateries.

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    1. Agreed, I ate there a few times back when it was Sgt. Garcia's. It was years ago so my memory may be fuzzy, but I remember enjoying it. Either way I'm sad to see the place go.

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  18. Place had a run down appearance and there was a distinct odd smell

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  19. I have lived in FH for almost 15 years and have been here a few times. Over the years, I've seen the number of customers get smaller and smaller. The food was never great, but it was a decent atmosphere with its outdoor seating and spacious interior. However, lately, the food and service seemed to have gotten worse and the last time I ate there, I can say that the food at Chipotle tasted better even though Chipotle was fast food.

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  20. Whatever happened to the positive atmosphere you were promoting, Drake? Lots of negativity here.

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    1. Rational negativity is fine, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Irrational negativity and rudeness is not.

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  21. My father liked Garcias, and I was forced to go there a number of times. Always thought the food was mediocre, the service not great, the prices ho hum. The place was starting to look old, feel old, dingy. I think what happened is that the rent on the lease they had was low enough that they were able to stay open without being full all the time, the lease was up, and the new adjusted rent must be sky high and they do not make enough to make it worthwhile. I am not sad to see it go, just hope it gets replaced by something decent and please, not someplace that thinks it can charge Manhattan prices!

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    1. Tell your father to stop forcing you to go to Mexican restaurants! Should we report him to social services? They must have a category: "child forced to eat at various restaurants around the city against his will."

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    2. LOL, Drake :) Seriously though, I agree with the above poster about hoping that the next eatery to replace Garcia's, if it is in fact a restaurant will be conscious about affordability and not "charge Manhattan prices". I'm curious what most people here find affordable, say for dinner for 2, not including alcohol, but including tax and tip? For me it is $50, which means no more than $20 per person for food, and only about once a week.

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    3. $20/person? I take it your only talking entree and no apps or dessert?

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    4. for a lunch I say the wife and I can do $30-40. a dinner 60 and up

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  22. This is creative destruction. Weaker restaurants that can't offer consistent quality at an acceptable price will need to leave the market and make way for the next experiment.

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  23. I guess the better question is which restaurant will be the next to go. What would you want to see gone?

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    1. I wouldn't mind seeing Pasta del Giorno go. In its place I would like a really good pizzeria, something this neighborhood is lacking.

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    2. That's one thing FoHi definitely is not lacking: Nick's, Gloria, Tuscan Hills, Lillian's. All superb pizza. How can you say that?

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    3. I think Nicks and Tuscan Hills are by the pie only, right? I've never tried Gloria so I can't comment, but Lillian's is a little too far from Austin St., and not that great IMO. What I want is a really good old-school pizzeria, where you can get slices, calzones, garlic knots, yum!

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    4. Gloria is right around the corner, next to the Midway Theater. It's just as you described.

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  24. I'd like to see BWW out, it really is "meh" . Flying Pig does nothing real special either

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    1. Not a fan of Flying Pig either. Fly out of here...

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  25. Heard the BWW is not doing as well as they expected. Bar is not getting used much and many orders are being shared. They have actually started cutting staff and hours.

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  26. Maybe restauranteurs will finally realize that you can't get the necessary foot traffic to survive in a saturated dining market with an exclusively second floor space. Something like Exo works because there is a ground floor presences. And no, BWW's ground floor delivery space doesn't count.

    But what do I know. There might just be a salad bar in Garcia's space by March.

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  27. Another closing on Austin St: Austin Jeans next to Haagen Daaz will close up shop by next month. I have no idea what will replace it. And to the poster who hopes Austin St doesn't turn into a strip mall, how do you figure it isn't very much like one now? I don't say this in a bad way either, because I feel most of the shops on our main drag suit the neighborhood well. I'm talking about all the chains we already have: Barnes and Nobles, Fridays, Lucille Roberts, Loft, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer, Boston Market, Aldo, Sephora, Benetton, Rite Aid, Bath and Body Works, etc etc. if these arent your typical mall shops than I don't know what are?

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    1. Seems Austin street is finally trimming the fat and, hopefully, realizing its potential.

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    2. If Austin St. wants to become a unique destination in the way Williamsburg is, it's got to shed some these generic, cookie-cutter chains. Why should I bother going to Victoria's Secret, Sephora, Banana, etc, when I can find these stores in Manhattan, Jersey, Bayside, Atlas Park? The only reason Austin is fun is because it now has Banter, Flying Pig, Station House, Mr. Vino, etc. More power to the Mom and Pops, and less to the 1% and the corporations behind these clone of a clone storefronts.

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    3. Do you honestly think any of those chain stores will close? They are proven money makers and do the most business of all on Austin St. I cannot see Austin ever becoming anything like Williamsburg, and that's not necessarily a bad thing....unless you like lots of hipsters ;)

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    4. Please, refrain from the 1% BS. Last I checked, FHG was full of them.

      I'm all for the m&p, but some of these places are ridiculously bad.

      FoHi is not a hipster haven. LIC, maybe. JH too. But FH is not.

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  28. Just noticed the newly reopened Haagen Daz has a B health grade.

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  29. How hard could it be for a mere ice cream store to get an A?

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    1. Difficult if you are only hiring unskilled labor with no work ethic.

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    2. Teenagers? Nah, I'd say that's on management.

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  30. Can we talk about Metro?! Dirty Pierre's 2 and Tazzina all coming to Metro! WooHoo!!!

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  31. diry pierre's 2? whats this?

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