Thursday, November 6, 2014

Remaking the Corner of Ascan and Austin

Corner of Ascan and Austin
So that quiet, beautiful part of Austin Street diagonally across from the church is in for some big changes, according to various guesses, reports and rumors that are circulating. Ever since the convenience store on the corner shut down a couple of months ago, there's been a lot of speculation as to what will replace it. The floor plans I've seen in fact, go way beyond just that store, carving a large chunk out of that entire corner which includes shops facing both Austin and Ascan. And one of those businesses impacted is Bonelle, a pastry shop that has been around for years and years and is extremely popular with FoHi'ers who have lived here for a long time.

Personally, I've never been a big fan. I've been to Bonelle and found the store very tired-looking and in need of a big-time renovation. Now, I'm a big meal guy and really don't have much of a sweet-tooth. So, I am really not anyone to judge pastries or deserts in general. And honestly I have no recollection whether I liked the pastries I had at Bonelle or didn't. But so many long-time residents absolutely love the place, that there must be something to it.

So.... if you are one of them, stop by Bonelle some time this holiday season and show them some love. I'm told they have a petition going to try to convince the landlord to not evict them which you can sign.

As for that corner, what's coming in there? I've heard everything from the Cafe Benne chain to Dunkin' Donuts. Personally, if it has to be a coffee shop like that (which I don't see the reason for since 1) We have the fabulous La Boulangerie a block away, and 2) it will in my opinion negatively impact what is one of the most charming corners on all of Austin St. and maybe in our neighborhood) my choice hands down is the more upscale Cafe Benne. But I am hearing more and more each week that it will probably be a DD... shame...lost potential of a really nice spot in our nabe.

The long-time Bonelle Pastry Shop is closing by next year, evicted by the landlord due to rising rents

70 comments:

  1. From what's online at BisWeb, it sure sounds like Dunkin' Donuts. If you scroll down to the bottom of the permit application where the owner is listed, you will see that the contact information for the owner is scohen@metrofranchising.com. Metro Franchising owns and operates Dunkin Donuts baking centers. Oh, well.

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  2. Martha's killed it

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    1. it wasn't even competition... it was located on the west end of austin st passed the subway... nobody from ascan side was walking past bonelle and going to martha's then back to the subway.

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  3. Glad something s being done there. It was becoming run down especially with the ripped and pigeon poop covered canopy. I'm sure the rent will be high. Remember Baskin Robbins used to be on the opposite corner. Would be great to have a DD-BR combo in the vacant spot. I imagine that it would do well.

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    1. indeed... it was looking haggard to say the least. we definitely do not need another bodega let alone an abandoned one.

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  4. Petition is never gonna go anywhere considering the landlord. That would suck if it were a Dunkin Donuts. A good coffee shop would be nice, Boulangerie has good coffee but would be just fine with the rest of their stuff (and Bonelle out of the way) and the Stoa coffee shop looks dreadful.

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    1. If I was the Landlord I would not care what the petition said my loyalty is not to petition signatures but to the lease holder.

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  5. There's already a Dunkin Donuts on QB that I don't support. Bonelle is a staple, though I don't care for the person running the place, I still buy my cookies there. I'm done with DD and Starbucks. They will not get my business. Saturating the market with their bland or overpriced product is offensive.

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  6. 1) There used to be a Baskin Robins on the opposite corner before The Natural took it over. Though I didn't care for it, the neighborhood didn't suffer.
    2) Is the storefront controlled by the Tilden Arms co-op, or is the landlord a single person?
    3) "FoHi?" Do you want this blog to be taken seriously?

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  7. Another coffee shop really would be a shame, especially a chain, considering the newly opened and excellent Red Pipe Cafe down the street...

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  8. What the.... there's already a DD on Continental. And then the 7-Eleven. Our neighborhood is turning into crap now.

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  9. Oh my God, NO. I agree with you, I've always thought this corner was so quiet and picturesque. I was OK with the idea of a Cafe Benne, but to put a DD in that spot is RIDICULOUS. There are already two nearby - one on Continental, one on Queens BLVD near Union Turnpike. Isn't that more than enough?? Ugh, it's going to look SO ugly. I'm upset.

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    1. I so agree. Who needs another junk food chain like Dunkin Donuts? I'm so tired of seeing them everywhere. Same bland, mass produced, chemical additive-laced food. Support mom and pop stores, not these cookie-cutter franchise corporations that make every neighborhood look the same.

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  10. I know it doesn't have the coziest of interiors, but I've always really enjoyed Bonelle. They make excellent muffins, almond croissants and cookies and every Christmas I make sure to get a box of their holiday petit fours. Their parker house rolls are also some of the best I've ever had.

    I realize that the only neighborhood bakery anyone seems to care about anymore is Martha's, and I'm not saying Martha's is bad! Their cake selection is great! But Bonelle brings authentic French baking to our neighborhood, while Martha's only really offers modern/generic fare. I hope Bonelle manages to stay put; I'll be very sorry if they're forced to shut their doors.

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  11. http://gothamist.com/2014/11/07/queens_bakery_dunkin.php

    Bonelle Pastry Shop, a 23-year-old mainstay of Ascan Avenue in Forest Hills, is facing eviction at the end of the year, just as a Dunkin' Donuts prepares to open right next door.
    "In late September, I received a letter saying that [the landlord] regrets to inform that I would have to vacate by December 31st," said owner Rahita Raval. "I didn't want to confront him, because I knew that there would be something more than just saying 'I want to increase the rent.' So I hired a lawyer, and the lawyer basically says that he wants a change."

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  12. Extremely disappointing! Bonelle makes excellent pastries and cakes! I'd be really sad to see it go!

    We have so many Dunkin Donuts within the 11375 zip code already it is ridiculous!
    1- Queens Blvd
    2- Metopolitan Ave
    3- 71st Ave
    4- Yellowstone Blvd
    5- 108th Street

    Clearly, Forest Hills is in desperate need of another Dunkin!!!

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    1. A sixth one is by 67th Rd and Queens Blvd. Six DDs!!

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    2. Guys, vote with your feet. Don't go, and Dunkins will slowly and surely disappear. Make your own coffee, toast your own bagels. Anything. Corporations can push the little guy around, but the consumer can push back. Support your local mom and pop businesses!

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    3. As much as I would like to believe otherwise, I feel like we're gonna be stuck with the DD for a LONG time. Despite the fact that pretty much everyone I've talked to is disgusted by the change, I think there will always be people who are willing to settle for the easier, cheaper option. And there's a school rigt across the street, which means there'll be a lot of foot traffic in the mornings with parents dropping their kids off and so forth. This place WILL make money. I'm not happy about it, but it's the truth. Sigh.

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  13. Another chain coming to the Austin St area... yay!

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  14. More information:
    http://gothamist.com/2014/11/07/queens_bakery_dunkin.php

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  15. Nick's should expand and put in a proper bar!

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  16. This corner has been neglected for a very long time and even when it was occupied the Newtown Deli was an awful eye sore and not very convenient from a convenience store point of view. Poor selection, dirty, run-down, overpriced. Anything at this point would be better than another empty store front along Austin St and surrounding areas and definitely better than another urgent care facility.

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  17. Hate to be unkind to the owner of Bonelle, but if the Gothamist article is correct, this woman has been operating without a lease for at least 10 years, which seemed to work fine for her, until it didn't. Not the safest way to run a business. Even if Bonelle is somehow rescued, I bet the bagel store across the street will take a major hit.

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  18. So, so disappointing, both because I love Bonelle and because I'm really starting to hate what FoHi is becoming. If I wanted to live inside a strip mall, I would've moved out to Long Island years ago!

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  19. No surprise. Another crappy local mom and pop that neglected its market position by failing to update itself with the times goes under. Good riddance.

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    1. You are 100% right. I liked Bonelle but how about getting a lease to protect your long term investment in your business? Bad move by the sisters.

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  20. I commented almost a month ago in some other post DD was coming to this corner but, for some reason, it was censored and not published. To be more specific it's a DD-BR that is coming.

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    1. so basically what was on that corner for decades will be back again just with the option of doughnuts. the more things change the more they stay the same.

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  21. Forest Hills: a Dunkin Donuts on every street corner! (Ugh.)

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  22. Some more details / updates from The Daily News today--

    http://m.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/dunkin-donuts-aids-fight-forest-hills-bakery-article-1.2003269

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  23. So I know that DD is one of those huge corporations that has more money than God, but...isn't there something we can do to stop this??? Does anyone have any ideas?

    We may not be able to save Bonelle (which makes me very unhappy; I've been going there since I was a kid), but I desperately do NOT want a DD in that location!

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    1. Seconded. Anyone know who we should be complaining to? Would a petition be a good idea?

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    2. petition who? the landlord can lease his store to anyone s/he seems fit providing the new establishment does not violate any zoning regulations. what would a petition do?

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  24. Who would be able to set guidelines regulating the types of business allowed, the chamber of commerce?

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    1. no. city zoning laws. chamber of commerce does not dictate which establishments enter the area they simply provide a network for business owners to work together to grow each others businesses. i can't believe this is so much uproar and disgust over a dunkin donuts yet five or six urgent care facilities is easily accepted.

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  25. Its a free economy and no one can constrain what goes in that space except the landlord. The only way to fight back is to boycott DDs and make them go under.

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  26. The Chamber of Commerce has zero say, on a purely legal basis. The types of businesses that can be at a particular location are governed primarily by NYC zoning regulations. Additionally, when a landlord owns multiple spaces in an area, tenants sometimes demand "non-compete" clauses in leases. Even if it turns out to be the case that there is no "non-compete" provision in the DD lease, that does not mean that the landlord is compelled to keep Bonelle in the space. Put aside for the moment that Bonelle could probably use an overhaul and a fresh coat of paint. None of us knows what Bonelle is paying in rent--whether or not it is anywhere near market rate. If not, all the landlord has to do is raise the rent to market rate (for that part of Austin Street), rather than just say they want Bonelle out and it could be over for Bonelle.

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  27. Didn't there used to be Baskin Robbins at the corner of the green market? This was years ago. Clearly no one seems to have missed it, so why bring it back with the DD chain? And like other comments stated, there are a million DD's in Forest Hills already.

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  28. Shall we start a petition vowing never to patronize the Dunkin Donuts, and send it to the landlord, Dunkin Donuts, and the franchisor (scohen@metrofranchising.com)?

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    1. LMAO. sure; good luck with that. most likely DD will sign a 15yr lease. the twenty people or so on here pretending to boycott the business will not change that. Let's look at this from the Landlord's POV. The individual can put proven business model in their space with a guaranteed long term lease or do a 3-5yr lease on some no name shop that will most likely go belly up because of the high rent high prices and poor selection like every other new place that quickly closed up along Austin st. So, which is a better bet for the Landlord?

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  29. Send an email to these people saying that you will never patronize a Dunkin’ Donuts at this location and that you will tell everyone you know to do the same.
    scampbell@metrofranchising.com, scohen@metrofranchising.com, chassan@metrofranchising.com, michelle.king@dunkinbrands.com, press@dunkinbrands.com, rabinowitz@babad.com.

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    1. It's a free country so writing a protest is a waste of time. BUT you can write those folks, and your Councilperson Koslowitz, and request that they adopt the outdoor architecture that Nicks, Michichi (sp?), Sakura, the chiropractor, did. The horrid Newtown Grocery does have arched windows like those other places, but they covered them in wood and then put the dirty awning over them. If you fill those arches with glass and put a tasteful facade as Dunkin Donuts did in other urban areas, I think it would be a huge improvement over Newtown. Maybe Drake can organize such a campaign.

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  30. I don't have anything clever or funny to add, I just think a DD in that spot is a really, really stupid idea. I hope they don't go through with it.

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  31. The Dunkin Donuts will most likely put a dent in the bagel shop's revenue if not close it up completely. Perhaps they can expand? Add a bathroom or two along with additional seating.

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  32. Like most chains, food at Dunkin is cheap and mediocre, laced with all kinds of chemical additives to make it taste good. The company knows this, so it multiples like a cancer in hopes you'll be surrounded and give in. I'm proud to say I'd rather eat at home or wait until I see a coffee cart.

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  33. I walked past that spot less than an hour ago and it's official: a DD sign is up in the window and there's definitely construction going on inside. At this rate, DD will be full operational before Christmas. I'm depressed.

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  34. Anyone know what Bonelle is paying in rent or the last time they had a rent increase?

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  35. Ha ha ha! The fact that you people think a boycott or petition would have any difference whatsoever is comical in its delusion. Your free to, but you'd just be wasting your time.

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    1. The truth is, these companies feed off of us (instead of the reverse). You don't think that it would eventually close if no one patronized it? Perhaps the serious threat of a lack of business would make them reconsider this particular location.

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    2. There's no need to be nasty and smug; we're all in the same boat here. Everyone's unhappy, but not everyone is going to handle it the same way as you. Kindness, please.

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    3. I'm not unhappy. I'm perfectly fine with the market determining the best utilization of the space. I have no problems with DD, unlike most on here who see them as a monster. I see them for what they are - a 75 year old American institution that has been in the New York market since well before Starbucks.

      And if you think a handful of people boycotting or petitioning will have any recourse whatsoever on the amount of business this location will generate, you're more delusional than I thought.

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  36. Even if Bonelle managed to keep their lease somehow, Dunkin Donuts would most likely put a huge dent in their business, just like it probably will with the bagel shop across the street. Either way, Bonelle is screwed and I'm pissed. This is just the latest in a long line of negative changes for Austin Street. I for one am not a fan of the ugly suburban wasteland aesthetic, and I really don't appreciate having to walk through it every day.

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  37. Vote with your $. Support the businesses you want to survive, boycott the ones you don't.

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    1. It sounds simple, but won't necessarily work when the company is already hugely successful and has all the financial security it needs. I'm loathe to say so, but I think Dunkin Donuts will occupy that spot for a very long time.

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  38. A greedy landlord helped drive the owner of Carrot Top bakery in Manhattan to suicide, and now this! Small business owners are really under siege by these real estate robber barons intent on snuffing out what was unique and fun about NYC neighborhoods. Here we come, bland suburban wasteland of endless chain stores!

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    1. Yes, how dare those greedy businessmen try to maximize their profits and make a living! Landlords are not snuffing out what was unique. If people actually patronize a local business, the business can afford to stay in business.

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  39. People really need to relax, it's just a Dunkin' Donuts, not the end of the neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination. The proliferation of chains is happening everywhere and is not unique to Forest Hills. Honestly, I'll take anything over that dumpy bodega when it was in business and especially as a rundown vacant storefront.

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    1. I agree. Calm down, it's not like they're opening a crack house. I like DD coffee but for food, I'd go to one of the local places. I don't know the bakery but it's always sad to see a nice, privately-owned business get pushed out.

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    2. Really? a Protest? REALLY!? meanwhile several feet away there are rows of urgent care facilities and no one cares. these urgent care medicare mills are going to have ny's finest crawling down austin st and everyone is fine with it. put up a dunkin donuts (a national chain with a long term lease) in a spot that has been abandoned for three years next to a subpar bakery and the community is torn apart... a great deal of misdirected anger and energy.

      http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141113/forest-hills/residents-plan-hold-protests-after-forest-hills-bakery-is-forced-move

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    3. apparently all the quality restaurants have started to pop up along Metropolitan Ave...

      http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20141219/forest-hills/metropolitan-avenue-turns-into-michelin-road-with-fine-dining-restaurants

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  40. Well, there goes one of the last peaceful spots on Austin Street. Time to mourn.

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  41. The sisters screwed up. If they had a lease, they would be able to stay and DDs wouldn't take the space. I remember being in their store and railing against lawyers. Maybe if they had spent $1500 on a lawyer to get them a lease this wouldn't have happened.

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  42. Well it's official. Saw the Help Wanted posters for Dunkin up on the security grates this morning. Although I agree that it's a charming corner, keep in mind that Baskin Robbins was there for eternity, and King Wok isn't doing that intersection any favors in the charm department. I for one am pretty psyched to have a DD in walking distance once again.

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    1. Best estimate: there are already at least 5 DDs within around a 20 block radius. When was there NOT one in walking distance??

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    2. Something may be within walking distance but not on your way.

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  43. I can live with the Dunkin Donuts - not that it was even close to my top pick for that space. It wasn't even in the top 100. But...I'm not going to get up in arms over it.

    What really bothers me in all of this is the loss of Bonelle. The prettiest storefront and some of the best bread selection in Queens! Very saddened by this news.

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  44. I hate that a DD is going there, because it is not at all needed and I won't ever go there. But Bonelle? Average at best and bad at worst (croissants). The community support it gets just goes to show that a large part of the Forest Hills demographic has poor taste.

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