Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Chanukah!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and, if you're traveling during this particularly stormy couple of days, best wishes for a safe journey to wherever you'll be celebrating. Try to remember how much we do indeed have to be thankful for living in this truly wonderful country—and, if you get a chance, try to help out those less fortunate, even if it's just in some small way, in the coming days.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Forest Hills Bareburger Expansion Opens

I visited the newly-expanded Bareburger on Austin St. over the weekend. The expansion, which seems to have more than doubled the restaurant's size, makes a huge difference. Gone is the crowded section of tables when you walk in. Instead, they have been incorporated into two sections with a partial wall in between. The result: what was a rather cramped space is now wonderfully spacious and really comfortable. A great new addition to our restaurant scene.

The Forest Hills Bareburger's new section seems to more than double its space.

A partial wall which runs much of the restaurant separates the two sides.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Twist and Smash'd Comes to Forest Hills on 11/29

New Restaurant Concept Will Offer A Unique Twist on
Fast Casual Dining

Twist and Smash’d, a new fast casual restaurant is opening its doors at 72-06 Austin Street, Forest Hills on Black Friday (November 29th, 2013). Twist and Smash’d was formed by a father and daughter(s) team after a family vacation in Ecuador.  Enchanted by a local restaurant that served twisted potatoes on a stick, the idea of Twist and Smash’d was born. 
Twist and Smash’d will offer a variety of ‘smash’d specialties’ including the Chicken and Waffles and the Italian burger.  Each burger is prepared with 100% Premium Natural Black Angus Beef. Short rib, chicken and veggie options are also available.  Early morning breakfast options are also available in addition to the lunch, dinner and late night menu. 
The twisted potato is a unique spin on traditional French Fries.  Twist and Smash’d uses state of the art equipment that turns any size potato into a twisted potato on a stick.  After a quick dip in the fryer, the twisted potatoes can be topped with any choice of powder—salt, cheddar, chipotle, lemon pepper and more.  Specialty drinks are also available to accompany any meal including strawberry lemonade, mango iced tea and watermelon juice.
The fun and inviting atmosphere makes Twist and Smash’d a great new hotspot in Forest Hills, an area full of fantastic restaurants, some named the best in Queens. Like the food, the environment is unique.  The inside is decorated with lots of orange and a wall with five boards that stretch along side the interior featuring the menu and a life size picture of the restaurant’s specialty, the twisted potato. Consumers have the option to grab and go, dine inside or eat outside on the outdoor patio.
Twist and Smash’d is committed to green practices. The kitchen was built with energy star products, plus composting is part of the daily routine and eco friendly packaging is used.
"We are ecstatic to bring Twist and Smash’d to Forest Hills," said Brianna Cano and Robert Cano, owners of Twist and Smash’d.  “This area is the perfect backdrop for our first location and we think this neighborhood and those visiting will enjoy this new restaurant.”
Twist and Smash’d will be open:
Monday - Thursday 8 am - 9 pm
Friday - Saturday 8 am -12 am
Sunday 9 am - 8 pm
ABOUT Twist and Smash’d:
Twist and Smash’d was created by chef Robert Cano and his daughters while on a family vacation to Ecuador in 2010.  In Ecuador the family found a small café that sold twisted potatoes.  Enchanted by this idea of a potato on a stick, they brought it back to New York and Twist and Smash’d was born.  Twist and Smash'd is owned by Cano Ventures Corp, a sister Corporation to Rcano Group which owns and operates Rcano Events.  Robert Cano is the president of RCano Events off premise catering company.  He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, which means he knows (and loves) food and has led the field in incorporating organic, seasonal, and locally grown ingredients.  For information please call718-937-6622 or visit:

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Kennedy Assassination

An excellent short film explores the Kennedy assassination, which occurred 50 years ago today...

New Burger Place Getting Ready

Twist and Smash'd, the new burger place on Austin, put its awning up and says it will be opening in about a week...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quick Update

Future home of 7-Eleven
  • I'm told the new 7-Eleven next to Red Mango will open by February.
  • And a commenter on this blog pointed out that the old Network/Status Quo Cafe on 72nd Ave. has been rented out to parties at this time unknown.

Monday, November 18, 2013

QueensWay Community Workshops This Week

Last Wednesday, The Friends of the Queensway Steering Committee co-hosted its first community workshop to discuss the QueensWay vision and gather input from Woodhaven residents. The organization's next two workshops will be happening this week, on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, in Forest Hills and Ozone Park.

Workshop II - Tuesday, November 19, 7-9 pm
Metropolitan Expeditionary Learning School (MELS)
91-30 Metropolitan Ave. Forest Hills, NY
(two blocks east of Woodhaven Blvd)
Workshop III - Wednesday November 20, 7-9 pm
Ozone Park Senior Center
103-02 101st Ave, Jamaica, NY
(at 103rd Street)

RSVP is greatly appreciated. You can do so by contacting:
Shelma Jun
QueensWay Plan Engagement Manager

What is the QueensWay?
The QueensWay is a community-led effort to transform a blighted, 3.5 mile stretch of abandoned railway in Central Queens (Rego Park, Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, and Ozone Park) into a new linear park and cultural greenway. At this time,   consultants are initiating a feasibility study and planning process, to convert the abandoned railway into a pedestrian and bike path, incorporate cultural and community programs, and connect the adjacent neighborhoods to each other and to Forest Park.   The QueensWay is supported by many Queens residents , and spearheaded by Friends of The QueensWay (FQW) and the Trust for Pubic Land (TPL) the nation's leader in creating urban parks.
What will happen at the public workshops?
These workshops will give residents an opportunity to share their ideas, suggestions and concerns   for the project. Your input could help create a vision for the QueensWay that  would identify potential recreational and educational activities, economic opportunities and addresses safety and security concerns.

Daily News Reports on Queens Breweries

There are 4 new breweries in Queens now, with 2 more on the way!

What's a sign of an improving neighborhood in the City today? Having its own brewery! When are we gonna get ours?

Queens now home to four breweries, with two more in the works
It started as a trickle of beer lovers opening breweries, but now the suds are flowing furiously in Queens. The borough lays claim to four breweries — with two more on the way. They range from large facilities, replete with tap rooms, to scrappy operations where brewmasters experiment with beets, coconuts, tomatoes and other such unorthodox ingredients in concocting their libations.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Future Home of Tazzina Forest Hills

A reader noticed that it looks like Tazzina, the new restaurant from celebrity chef Jason Zukas, who won the Chopped competition in 2009, will be opening in the former Piccola Italia location (and Tutto Bene before that), at 102-15 Metropolitan Ave. This is near the corner of 71st Ave..

From Times
The board approved an application for a new liquor license for an unnamed restaurant at 103 19 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills and deferred applications from Tazzina at 102-15 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills and Rumba Supper Cub at 67 63 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dangerous Intersection

A reader emailed me this afternoon about this strip of road where Austin St. meets cars coming up from the tunnel from Union Turnpike. Does anyone else find it to be exceptionally dangerous? She was thinking it could use a Yield sign or something like that because cars coming up from the tunnel, and vice-a-versa, may not notice each other until it's too late. Not being a driver, I can only imagine this to be the case. Does anyone else have a problem there?

View Larger Map

Author to Discuss Polish Jewish Reconciliation

An estimated eighty percent of American Jews are of Polish descent.  Poland was once  home to the largest Jewish population in Europe.  Yet today, most American Jews think of Poland solely through the lens of the horrific realities of the Holocaust.  On Monday, Nov. 18, at 1:30 p.m., author Louise Steinman will talk at the Central Queens YM & YWHA in Forest Hills, on her new book on a new movement toward Polish Jewish reconciliation, reclaiming the centuries of Jewish life in Poland.  The Central Queens Y is located at 67-09 108 Street in Forest Hills.  Louise Steinman’s talk is open to the public, with a $7 donation suggested.

During the Holocaust, three million Jews, nearly the entire Jewish population of Poland, were killed.  However, while German-occupied Poland was the site of the largest extermination camps, with some Poles participating in the destruction of the Jewish communities, Poland was also the epicenter of European Jewish life for centuries.

Author Louise Steinman set out to examine today’s burgeoning Polish-Jewish reconciliation movement through the lens of her own family's history, joining the ranks of Jews of Polish descent who are confronting both the atrocities and the heroism of Polish Holocaust rescuers, and reclaiming the centuries of Polish Jewish history, as well as with their own families’ stories.  At the same, Poland is seeing a resurgence of interest in Jewish life, including Jewish cultural festivals and the increasing popularity of klezmer music, as a younger generation of Polish non-Jews try to restore some sense of the culture that was lost in the Holocaust.

Louise Steinman codirects the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the University of Souther California and is the author of a previous, award winning memoir. 

More information about this event or about the Fall Author Series is available at 718 268-5011, ext. 151, or online at or at  (718) 268-5011 ext. 151, or

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Forest Hills a Top 100 NYC Neighborhood for Walking

How does Forest Hills fare when it comes to walkability? Well, we could do better, but we also certainly could do far worse in this ranking of the Top NYC Neighborhoods for Walking. We made the Top 100—at 92—and I'll take it. Finding a neighborhood that allowed me to live without the hassle of owning a car was one of the major reasons I chose Forest Hills to begin with!

Walk Score names Forest Hills one of the most walkable neighborhoods in NY

Last week, Walk Score launched a new 2014 ranking of Most Walkable U.S. Cities & Neighborhoods and New York is the most walkable city in the United States. 

If you're not familiar with Walk Score, it's the leading measure of neighborhood walkability delivering more than 10 million scores per day across a network of over 30,000 websites. The site believes that walkable neighborhoods with access to public transit, shorter commutes, and proximity to the people and places you love are the key to a happier, healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.  This website and its mobile apps make it easy for people to shop for apartments and rentals by neighborhood walkability, commute time and proximity  to public transit. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Music Break: Queens Featured in Music Video "Broken Sentences"

Classical pianist and award-winning composer Gregg Kallor’s new music video “Broken Sentences” features many Queens sites. The video follows Kallor on a journey to Queens and through the five boroughs to play all 88 public pianos placed by arts organization Sing For Hope Pianos this past summer.

Street Battle: Austin Vs. Metropolitan

It's become increasingly obvious in recent months that much of the creative energy here in Forest Hills—and let's face it, charm—has begun to shift markedly southward, from Austin St. to Metropolitan Ave. Some of the finest restaurants and interesting new shops have skipped over our nabe's main shopping drag—Austin Street—and chosen to open on Metropolitan instead. Some recent examples, Danny Brown (the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Queens); the arts & crafts shop Oliloli; celebrity chef Jason Zukas' decision to open his new Tazzina on Metropolitan Ave. and just the other week the news that Silk Cakes, the Manhattan-based premium cake and pastry shop will be opening on Metropolitan as well.

And, with the recent disheartening news that new construction along the eastern section of Austin St. will house a large medical clinic (in what used to be a prime shopping block), let's face it, suddenly Austin seems to be undergoing a bit of an identify crisis while its cousin to the south thrives with creative energy.

It all kind of reminds me of what happened when I was living in Park Slope (and in the years after I left there) when all kinds of great places started opening up on 5th Ave. and that street quickly began to rival 7th Ave. But, there's one big difference: Metropolitan Ave. is a fairly long walk from Austin St. taking anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes, or even longer, depending on how spry you are.

Given these developments, I'd like to throw out a couple of questions to the readers: 1. Why do you think Metropolitan Ave. suddenly has captured all of the innovative energy that Austin appears to be lacking? 2) If you live near Austin St., do you regularly head down to Metropolitan Ave. to shop and eat, either by car, bus or foot? 3) What do you think all this means for the future of our neighborhood? And finally, 4)  If you're a business owner who recently chose to open on Metropolitan Ave. instead of Austin St., what went into that decision and do you think you made the right choice?

Annual Holiday Decorations Contest

With the holiday season beginning to bust out all over, now's a good a time as any to remind ya'all to email in your holiday decorations to This year we here at the Blog will select a few of the best and then put them up for a vote to all the readers and whoever wins, well you can say you had the best holiday decorations in all of Forest Hills (and nearby environs). How's that?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Queens Museum's New Website

The newly-renovated Queens Museum just launched its new website. Click the image below:

More Space on Austin Opening Up

Austin Jeans is closing after more than 20 years in its prime Austin St. location, just several doors down from the intersection of 71st/Continental. Hard to find a better spot in Forest Hills for a new store or a small eatery like a coffee bar.

And then there's the old Garcia's restaurant, a huge space on the top floor of the Austin St. "mall," which would be great for a really good restaurant, since it has outdoor seating overlooking Austin St. A quality restaurant opening up there, in that enormous space, could do really well.

Oh, and while on the subject, I'm sure many of you have heard the news that some kind of medical clinic is opening in the building on the other side of Austin, down towards Ascan. I also am quite disappointed that this is the best they can do with a newly-renovated building. But I'm resigned to it - if that's what the neighborhood can support, so be it. If not, something better will open there eventually. I'm pretty optimistic that as the nabe continues to improve, prime spaces like this will in the future not be turned into medical drop-in clinics! Also, I think I heard something like 75 percent will be used for the clinic so there is also space for something more interesting.

On a related note, I have been contacted by some who say it is questionable how the developers of that new building were able to alter the historic facade of the structure: As one person wrote to me:

"Two-story Old English shops were demolished to accommodate a 3-story out-of-context glass building in the heart of Austin Street's historic retail and residential area."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

My Park Day at MacDonald Park

One of the event's organizers, Steve Melnick, sends out a sincere BIG thanks to all who participated in Saturday's community volunteer event, saying "It was a lot of work, but we accomplished practically everything as just over 2 1/2 hours! An extra thanks to the Rutgers students who drove in from Newark to help out.  And thanks to the NYC Parks Dept crew along with Partnerships For Parks coordinator, Nichole Henderson, for their support. A big thanks to Ed O'Neil,  our district gardener, for showing us the ropes."

Some numbers:
40 bags of leaves picked up
500+  daffodil bulbs planted 
7 trash bins painted
30 seasonal plants planted
22 volunteers - priceless

Friday, November 8, 2013

Queens Museum Reopening: Inauguration Ceremonies from Around the Borough and the Globe

Saturday, November 9, 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, 2013
In this first of three consecutive days celebrating the reopening of the Queens Museum,Target Wide Open Weekend (November 9-11) kicks off with the opportunity for diverse communities to tell us how they would open a building and bless our new space. How do you inaugurate a space in India, Bulgaria, Mexico, or Taiwan? In addition join us for the Opening Reception and numerous performances related to Queens International 2013, and the other inaugural season exhibitions featuring solo exhibits of artists Pedro Reyes, Peter Schumann, and Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao as well as a group show of Cuban contemporary works. You’ll also have access to the first open studios of our new Artist Studio Program, and new installations of our permanent exhibitions. See Detailed Schedule of the day below:
Rendering of New Queens Museum facade
Rendering of the new Queens Museum facade
11 – 2 pm
QI artist Lynley Bernstein‘s “Fishing for the Elusive Snakehead” a 2.5-hour guided fishing trip in search of the infamous Snakehead fish identified by the city authority to inhabit waterways in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Once caught, it must be submitted to the city. Gear and Bait provided, meets offsite, and ends at the Museum. For more information and to RSVP, please email:
Video screenings of works by QI Taiwanese artists: CHANG Chien-Chi, CHEN Chieh-jen, HSU Chia-Wei, Jun YANG and YU Cheng-Ta
2 – 4 pm
Poets in the Galleries: Tan Lin
The Poets in the Galleries series utilizes the Museum’s exhibition space as an invigorating site for exploration, interactive readings and discussions. For four Saturdays in November and December 2013, a different poet will conduct a lively presentation in response to the Museum’s current biennial of Queens-based artists, Queens International 2013.
Today features poet Tan Lin. Tan Lin is the author of Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe, BlipSoak01, Ambience is a Novel with a Logo, Heath (Plagiarism/Outsource), 7 Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004 and The Joy of Cooking (2010). His work has appeared in numerous journals including Conjunctions, Artforum, Cabinet, New York Times Book Review, Art in America, and Purple. His video, theatrical and LCD work have been shown at the Marianne Boesky Gallery, Yale Art Museum, Sophienholm Museum (Copenhagen), Ontological Hysterical Theatre, and as part of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Soundcheck Series. Lin is the recipient of a Getty Distinguished Scholar Grant for 2004-2005 and a Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Arts Writing Grant to complete a book-length study of the writings of Andy Warhol. He has taught at the University of Virginia and Cal Arts, and currently teaches creative writing at New Jersey City University.
Schedule and participating artists:
November 9: Tan Lin
November 16: Stephen Motika
December 7: Charles Bernstein with Susan Bee
December 14: Patricia Spears Jones
3-5 pm
Multicultural Welcoming & Blessing Ceremonies including: Aztec Blessing by Calpulli Cetilitzi; Andean Ceremony by Estudiantina NY; Taiwanese artist Chin Chih Yang will perform as a master calligrapher, Using a brush specifically designed for the occasion to create innovative calligraphy to render logotypes and lucky words for guests. QI artist Vlada Tomova’s New York Bulgarian Women’s Choir presentig a new pieceA!Capella!Blessing!
3 – 6 pm
Opening in the Museum’s Community Partnership Gallery: An Inclusive World, a group exhibition organized by COPE NYC, a program that examines how art transforms the lives of those with a wide array of needs and abilities.
3 – 6 pm
Queens Museum Studio Program – Open Studios
4 – 5 pm
QI artist Joseph Heathcott offers Brooklyn-Queens Borderlands, a virtual guided walking tour along the Queens-Brooklyn border in the Panorama of the City of New York. While there you are welcome to enjoy the large scale photos of our buildings in various stages of construction, New York City Building Time Lapse, 2009 – 2013: Photographs by Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao
5:30-6 pm
Performance Llego FeFa by Magdalena Maria Campos-Pons and Neil Leonardcelebrating the reopening of the Museum and the opening of Citizens of the World: Cubans in Queens in the new The Shelley and Donald Rubin Gallery.
6- 630 pm
Fuijui Wang
QI artist Fujui Wang presents Hyper Transmission, a site-specific sound performance in the Atrium capturing locally sampled electromagnetic waves rendered in a specially devised directional speaker
630 – 8 pm
QI artist Matthew Volz’s Meanwhile Back in Queens, a live concert in collaboration with the Juan Wauters with Carmelle Safdie
8- 9pm
QI artist Joro-Boro presents Smuggled Party, a participatory DJ performance mashing up collected tunes from museum visitors’ MP3 players while also in collaboration with fellowBulgarian Collective performer Vlada Tomova‘s New York Bulgarian Women’s A Capella Choir.
Wide Open Weekend at the Queens Museum is generously supported by Target.
Queens International 2013 is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York, Contemporary Art Foundation, La Guardia Corporation, and Target.
Additional funding provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Reception sponsor Khajuraho Lite Beer.

The Queens Museum Reopens

.... and there are a ton of changes. The article in today's Times details them. It sounds really great.

On Saturday, the much-changed Queens Museum reopens, focusing on the wide world of art found in the cosmopolitan breadth of its borough’s population.

And here's the write-up from Time Out NY:

The Queens Museum reopens after major renovations 
Gone is the old World’s Fair ice-skating rink, replaced with skylit galleries, an airy atrium, event spaces, a café and artists’ studios. The new additions have doubled the institution’s size to 105,000 square feet—about two and a half times the size of Grand Central Terminal’s Main Concourse.

You can get to the museum via the 7 train and then by walking through the Park.
Flushing Meadows–Corona Park near 111th St and 49th Ave entrance, Queens (718-592-9700, Wed–Sun noon–6pm; suggested donation $8, seniors and students $4, members and children under 5 free.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Best Chicken in Forest Hills?

So I found myself the other week suddenly chicken-less after the traumatic closing of Just Like Mother's. Then I remembered that at a recent family gathering someone had served some food from El Pollo Inka on Queens Blvd. and it was amazing. I had ordered from them a few years ago, but chose something a bit too exotic for my taste. This time, I got the simpler half chicken, rice and beans. And throw in their spicy green sauce? Fantastic! I highly recommend El Pollo Inka to any chicken lovers who haven't already tried this awesome Peruvian restaurant right here in Forest Hills.
  • 112-20 Queens BlvdForest Hills 11375
  • (Btwn 75th Rd & 76th Ave)

  • (718) 275-2828

The Myth & Reality Of Prewar Jewish Life In Europe

YIVO, the premiere cultural organization of Yiddish culture in New York, continues its yearlong series of programs in Forest Hills, with a talk by Prof. David Fishman at the Central Queens YM & YWHA.  On Monday, November 11, Prof. Fishman will speak at 1:30 p.m. on the Myth and Reality of the Jewish Shtetl.  Prof. David Fishman will discuss the cultural life and realities of Jewish life in the small towns of Eastern Europe before World War II.  David Fishman is Professor of Modern Jewish History at The Jewish Theological Seminary and he serves as director of Project Judaica, a Jewish-studies program in Moscow.  The Central Queens Y is located at 67-09 108 Street in Forest Hills.  Prof. Fishman's talk is open to the public, with a $7 donation suggested.

In 1912 nearly half of the Jews in Eastern European lived in small towns. While Jewish life in these small towns is often remembered with nostalgia today, contemporary Yiddish playwright, S. An-ski called these shtetlekh, "the Jewish dark continent". Prof. Fishman'
s talk will look more closely at the reality of the life and culture of shtetl Jews, including political movements such as Zionism and the Jewish labor movement, the Bund, their literature and theater.  He will also discuss Jewish relations with Russians, Poles, and other Christians, as well as the cultural life of the shtetl.  The talk will feature some slides and recorded music.

This program is one in an ongoing series of programs co-sponsored by YIVO
S Yidishe kultur-serye at the Central Queens YM & YWHA. 

More information about this event is available at 
718 268-5011, ext. 151, or online at or at  (718) 268-5011 ext. 151, or