Monday, February 24, 2014

Rest in Peace Harold

A Combo on Austin?

An observant reader sent in this pic leaving us wondering if the former Pasta Del Giorno space and the Second Time Around space next to it are being combined into one super-big space for... what, we have no idea. It's quite amazing that we haven't heard a peep yet about what this prime retail space on Austin Street may be about to become. Someone out there must know, and my email box is open and waiting at

Update: I found the job record for this site and as the commenter below said, it does indeed say they will be building an Urgent Care Center at this prime shopping location (believe it or not). 

Purse Snatcher and Fire Escape Break-Ins

Once again it seems a couple of criminals have set their eyes on Forest Hills. The first apparently has been breaking into apartments through open windows, and the second, a purse snatcher, has been targeting women late at night.

Here are some links with further information:

Police seek Forest Hills, Kew Gardens purse snatcher who threatens to cut victims
Cops are looking for a Queens purse snatcher who grabs his victims using a bear hug and threatens to cut them, according to police. Update. 9:49 a.m. Monday: A suspect has reportedly been caught in this case.

Burglaries Spike in 112th Precinct Amid Rash of Fire Escape Break-Ins
A brazen burglar targeting buildings along Queens Boulevard in Rego Park and Forest Hills has broken into at least two dozen apartments during the past six months using fire escapes, authorities said.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Families for Safe Streets Announces Push to End Traffic Violence

New Group Organizes to Ensure City’s Vision Zero Goals Implemented Rapidly

Given that we Forest Hillers have to somehow coexist with Queens Blvd. in our midst, this group's formation was a long time in coming—and completely inevitable. Public officials have seemed barely concerned for years with the safety of pedestrians trying to cross Queens Blvd. In fact, it seems like there is even less time to cross Queens Blvd. today than there was several years ago—about 45 seconds, which is just insane.

Also, hasn't it been fun trying to traverse Queens Blvd. with those mountains of snow blocking the pedestrian crosswalks? How is a senior citizen or someone with a disability supposed to climb those mountains of ice? You'd think someone would be assigned to shoveling out those crosswalk paths, making it safe for pedestrians to cross this 12-lane stretch of road which cuts through our neighborhood. This is a blaring example of how cars are given the priority over the safety of pedestrians in this City and it has to stop.

Anyway, here's the statement of the new Families for Safe Streets Group:

"As families whose loved ones have been killed or maimed by reckless driving and dangerous conditions on New York City's streets, we demand an end to traffic fatalities and serious injuries. We are parents, children, partners and siblings who represent the full breadth of New York's diversity. We envision a city where pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers safely co-exist, and children and adults can travel freely without risk of harm – a city where no loss of life is acceptable. In early 2014, we came together to turn our grief into action, so that no one else will have to endure our pain. We have formed a group that will serve as a force for change, to make sure the Interagency Vision Zero Working Group’s Action Plan is implemented rapidly. We will be testifying at the City Council Transportation Committee’s oversight hearing on Vision Zero on Monday the 24th."

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

6th NY Reelabilities Film Festival Comes to Queens

 Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
The Central Queens Y will host the 6th Annual NY Reelabilities Film Festival on Sunday, March 9, and Monday, March 10 in Forest Hills.  The Reelabilities Film Festival, a film festival touring major cities across the country, will feature three films on living with disabilities at screenings over two days in Queens.  These rich and moving films are about the human experience, rather than about disabilities. Discussions follow each film, with speakers such as the director and lead actor of two films.  The festival plays at the Central Queens YM & YWHA, at 67-09 108 Street in Forest Hills.  Tickets and information are available online at or by calling (718 268-5011, ext. 151.  All films are open to the general public, with an $8 donation requested.

Eerily reminiscent of the recent tragic story of Avonte Oquendo, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors will be shown on Sunday, March 9, at 11 a.m.  Set in Queens during Hurricane Sandy, this powerful film tells the story of an autistic boy who runs away from home, but is found.  On Sunday afternoon, March 9, at 2 p.m. the festival features Gabrielle, an uplifting story about love and the redemptive powers of music among young people with developmental disabilities and living in a group home. On Monday, March 10, the festival continues with a screening of Do You Believe in Love, a film about a matchmaker whose tough love style of matchmaking brings together people with disabilities to find soul mates and partners through life.

The ReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with disabilities. Post-screening discussions bring out the issues in each film and bring together the community to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.  The CQY festival also includes an unusual photographic exhibit, the Pearls Project, a groundbreaking exhibit featuring young people in disabilities programs throughout Queens.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snowy Queens Boulevard

Pasta Del Giorno Closes

Long-time Austin Street restaurant Pasta Del Giorno has closed. I used to go there in my pre-Tuscan Hills days. But ever since TH opened, that's pretty much where I go for Italian food. I am so eagerly looking forward to Tuscan Hills' owners' new pizza place opening soon in the former Just Like Mother's location on Queens Blvd., near Ascan!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Plow Shatters Exo Cafe Windows

This happened Thursday night at Exo Cafe on Austin St., according to NBC news. I've included a link to the story below the video.

Snow From Plow Truck Shatters Restaurant Windows, Knocks Over Customer

The incident happened at Exo Cafe, shown here under construction a few years ago.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Bareburger Forest Hills

Due to the storm, Bareburger Forest Hills tells me they will be opening tomorrow (Thursday, 2/13/14) at 4:30pm.

On a brighter note, for Valentine's day (this Friday, 2/14/14) Bareburger Forest Hills will be offering its Rose wine as a special. The bottle will be available for purchase for dine-in guests for only $15. Wine info: Domaine Bousquet Rose 2012.

Restaurant Update: Jack & Nellie's

 I've been meaning to return to Jack & Nellie's on Ascan for quite some time. I paid them a visit more than a year ago when they first opened and enjoyed the place, but had hoped at that time that they would expand the menu from just small plates to meal-size portions. After all, Lord knows we here in Forest Hills can still use some great new restaurant choices to have a full meal at, not just a few small plates. Maybe other NYC neighborhoods can afford the luxury of small plates, but let's deal here in Forest Hills with the lack of a variety of great places to get a full meal before we even go there.

And, thankfully, we are indeed dealing...

Jack & Nellie's must have been listening because they have done just that in the ensuing months.

Jack & Nellie's owner, Cyril, was, smartly, one of the local restaurants to take me up on my offer and contact me to inform the blog's readers about recent changes to his establishment.

Here's a portion of what he told me, in his own words:

"Jack & Nellie's has expanded its menu. While we still have many of our crowd favorite small plates (i.e: Mac & cheese with chorizo, lamb meatballs, garlic & artichoke dip, sliders...) we have extended it to entrée size platters such as Grilled Hanger Steak (served with chimichurri sauce and potato wedges), Grilled Salmon (over succotash), Jack & Nellie's Burger (served with fries), Kale Cesar Salad (served with or without grilled chicken), Vegetable Risotto, to name a few. Our chef has also been coming up with tasty specials each night (usually 2 or 3) and our brunch (every Sat & Sun from 11am-3pm) not only has a dedicated following, but we also offer live jazz to enhance the experience. Even though we are not taking reservations for brunch, we are thrilled to see returning customers each weekend, and look forward to seeing new ones as well. I am happy to report that the feedback from our customers (from far and away) has been positive and we hope to continue being a pillar of the Forest Hills community."

So, I look forward to visiting Jack & Nellie's again soon and giving their new menu a try! Tucked away on the quieter Ascan Ave,, just around the corner from busy Austin, you could say Jack & Nellie's has a bit of a disadvantage in getting noticed by the thousands of shoppers who visit Forest Hills each day—especially given all the publicity the newer restaurants coming into the neighborhood have recently been getting.

Well, you could say that. Or, you could say J&N has a huge advantage—a charming eatery in a quieter section of the neighborhood, away from all the hustle & bustle of the big city.

So, when you're thinking of another restaurant to try here in Forest Hills, keep Jack & Nellie's in mind.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Local Cake Shop Spices Up Valentine's Day

This is awesome. One of Forest Hills' newest businesses, Silk Cakes, has announced that in honor of Valentine's Day it will be offering Sriracha Chocolate Cake (pictured at left), and offering free samples beginning tomorrow, through Feb. 16th at its recently-opened Metropolitan Ave. store.

Here's more details:

Silk Cakes, a creative customized wedding and specialty cakes bakery, today announced the concoction of a new cake flavor combination in celebration of Valentine’s day. The new Sriracha Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Butter-cream and Semi-Sweet Chocolate Truffle and Lime Zest.

Silk Cakes is known for Asian inspired designs and unique flavor combinations, and the new “limited edition” flavor joins some of Silk Cake’s most popular flavor combinations such as chocolate cake with green tea butter cream and semi-sweet chocolate truffle, black sesame cake with yuzu butter cream with green tea truffle and Thai tea cake with condensed milk butter cream and white chocolate truffle.

Sriracha is a type of hot sauce made from the paste of the chili peppers that originated from Southeast Asia. “The Sriracha spiciness combined with the sweetness of chocolate is a wonderful complement to heat up your Valentine’s Day,” said Judy Lai, owner of Silk Cakes and renowned pastry chef. The new Sriracha flavor will be available for a limited time, and the public is welcomed to sample Sriracha cupcakes at Silk Cakes newly opened Forest Hills location.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Men's Wearhouse Renews Lease

--Fashion retailer renews lease at vibrant mixed-use property in Forest Hills--

A long-time staple at Muss Development LLC’s popular 7000 Austin Street property, fashion retailer Men’s Wearhouse has signed a long-term renewal to remain in its 6,300-square-foot space.

Other tenants at the 100 percent occupied property include retailers Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Eddie Bauer, and T.G.I. Friday’s. In addition, two new office tenants went into occupancy in the building last year, adding to the expanding traffic and vitality of Forest Hills, with the influx of approximately 50new employees.

Allen Health Care, which provides placement and training services for healthcare professionals, occupies 16,215 on the second floor on a ten-year lease, while Bilinguals Inc., a provider of English and bilingual evaluations and therapeutic and education services to children, leased 15,390 square feet for 12 years.

“Forest Hills is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Queens, and our mixed-use property at 7000 Austin Street continues to attract and retain a diversity of office and retail tenants that serve the community,” said Muss Development Principal Jason Muss.

Muss was represented in-house by Stan Markowitz in the transaction. Doug Weinstein, of Ripco, represented the tenant.

Located one block south of Queens Boulevard, 7000 Austin Street is located along one of the busiest retail corridors in Queens and an easy walk to the E, F, M, and R subways, the Long Island Railroad, and express buses. The property also features parking for 300 vehicles.

The Austin Street neighborhood has also seen an overall uptick in activity, including the arrival of new restaurants, cafés, and local businesses, and a new major luxury condominium tower on Queens Boulevard, which is under construction

About Muss Development
With more than 100 years of ongoing business excellence in New York City, Muss Development is the largest development company in the Boroughs of New York City, with more than 10 million square feet of commercial, residential, industrial and retail property developed.  For more information, visit

Sun Cycle Brunch Ride

Free Family Concert Sunday

FREE Family Concert...
The Frog Prince and Peter & the Wolf 
Sunday, February 9th at 3 pm
LeFrak Concert Hall
Come and hear Victoria Bond’s lively new score for the wonderful tale, The Frog Prince. Paired with Prokofiev’s timeless introduction to the instruments, Peter and the Wolf, these two classic tales will be brought to life by The Queens Symphony Orchestra! The Frog Prince will be narrated by QSO's very own Sandra Billingslea and led my Music Director, Constantine Kitsopoulos. He will then pass the wand to QSO's Associate Conductor, Matthew Kasper, as he narrates Peter and the Wolf. This fun-filled afternoon is something you will not want to miss!
FREE to the public!
RSVP required! 

To RSVP call the Kupferberg box office at 718-793-8080 or email 
For more info visit
And don't forget to come early for...
Come "warm up" by meeting our musicians and trying out some of our instruments! Meet the Instruments starts at 2 pm in the LeFrak Concert Hall Atrium.
FREE with concert RSVP!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ann Taylor Factory Store

The sign has gone up on their new Austin St. location. For those not aware, this is where the former Ann Taylor used to be, on Austin near the corner of 71st/Continental. As I recently told someone on Twitter, apparently Forest Hills is about to be overrun by ladies named Ann Taylor. I wonder how long it takes them to make one? While, I'm on the topic, what exactly would I do with a lady named Ann Taylor? Do they specialize in anything in particular? How much do they go for? Help me out here...

Impending Ice Storm

This is looking more and more serious for the area...

Metropolitan Ave. Construction

Anyone know what's they're building across the street from Trader Joe's, where the gas station used to be? A reader called my attention to it on the blog's Facebook page and snapped this pic.

A Different Kind of Snow

I don't know if you noticed, but it seemed to me that Monday's snowstorm had a different feel to it. It didn't seem as harsh as last month's storm. Instead, it transformed Forest Hills and other parts of the city into a gentler winter wonderland. It probably was because it was a warmer snow, which made it stick to trees, and some other familiar things around the city, coating them with a layer of white that took a little of the typical edge off the city.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Talk Amongst Yourselves

As I slowly recuperate from the "cold from hell," I invite you all to talk amongst yourselves about whatever is on your minds (except the high rents landlords are charging local businesses on Austin St., overpriced slices of cake and new condos you don't find attractive enough to spend $600,000 on.) Otherwise, the floor is all yours until I can manage to sleep more than half an hour at a time without being awoken by another round of coughing.

Oh, and enjoy the snow! Or, if you have to drive or wait for the bus during it, hate the snow! I feel your pain!

By the way, word is that a storm forecast for this weekend may be a Biggie, but of course it's still too soon to know for sure.