Old-school pizzeria L’inizio opens on Vernon Blvd

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28 Responses to Old-school pizzeria L’inizio opens on Vernon Blvd

  1. Sonny L.

    Congratulations on a great soft open. Huge crowd, great success. Now if only the CB2 would catch up with the times.

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  2. Ray

    So so so disappointed the beautiful backyard is not open for use. Such a shame. I live in LIC overlooking The Creek and the Cave backyard and it's perfectly fine (and I'm a pretty uptight individual)! Its management strictly enforces the hours of usage for the backyard and it's not a big deal AT ALL -- I do not understand this community board whatsoever. It just continues to make me really sad.

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  3. r185

    1) Congratulations and welcome.
    2)CB 2 are a bunch of weak kneed a-holes.

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  4. Carla

    Picked up our pie to go and we're not disappointed. Wishing you a great success.

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  5. mike

    i will check it out for a slice

    old school nyc pizzeria?

    wonder if anyone in there knows what a one & one is?

    hopefully it's good i will not have to go to Greenpoint for my pizza fix

    maybe that crappy place down the block with the terrible pizza

    will step up his game or go away

    that guy totally missed the boat could have renovated that place a little

    and made some better pizza and food

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  6. Anonymous

    $$ broker $$ pizza.

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  7. Thank the Pizza Gods

    Mike, what's a one & one? I've been eating NYC pizza for many years and never heard of it.

    If L'inzio can turn out a solid, no-nonsense/yuppie BS old-fashioned slice like we used to get, it will be my new temple.

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  8. mel

    Do they serve beer and wine?

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  9. Funkybutt

    Stopped by yesterday and tried 3 different slices. Very disappointed. Pizza looks great but it was very very bland. Nothing special. I will go back though.
    And about the CB 2 - there's is actually one person there that opposes to everything. A very very pathetic sad fun-blocker person. We, the long time residents, know who he is...

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  10. Will give them time

    Tried to give L'inzios a shot. Walked in 2 times since they have been open to try them out. It is abundantly clear that no one employed there has ever run a restaurant. 5 people standing behind the counter without any direction/assigned jobs, and a line of customers that has no order, no beginning or end.

    I noticed several people getting frustrated with the lack of understanding as to where the end of the line was, and after waiting 10 mins or so on what they thought was the end of the line, they were told they were wrong and to get on the other end of that line - clearly the majority of those folks walked out.

    All that is needed is to give each of those employees a set job - one mans the register, another to get the order from the customer, another to pull the pizza from the oven, another to serve, and then only one is left to stand behind the counter walking in circles and appearing useless.

    Will try again, but order is necessary to run a successful business.

    Also - the seasoned restauranteur never makes the same mistake twice (if you sell out of dough on one night, you make more for the night after so it doesn't happen again).

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  11. r185

    Funkybutt, You mean William Garrett, right? He's got this pathological drive to silence LIC all because he bought a building on a commercial street to live in, and then discovered that there were businesses next door!

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  12. Lic fan

    Stopped by Sunday afternoon to a sign on the door: "Closed Today", not off to a great start. Hope they get their act together soon. Ended up at Juniors, nothing special but good old style NY pizza.

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  13. Sunny D

    So because they're closed, they're not off to a good start? A lot of restaurants close 1 day a week.

    Manetta's is closed on Mondays, so is El Ay Si.

    I thought the pizza was great. Everyone has different taste. Perhaps they're working out some kinks with organization, but I've experienced that with EVERY single new restaurant in LIC.

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  14. That70sManinLIC

    Quite frankly, these people haven't a clue as to what good old NY pizza is. First off, I get a kick out of these modern-day hipsters, children of 8-s yuppies, who think they can commodify the past to serve it to idiots who fork over lots of money, then drive up the price of things, thus forcing ordinary people like myself out of nieghborhoods in NYC (called gentrification, IT MUST STOP! We need to Stick it to the Man!) It would be a miracle if a place opened up around here that offered real good old pizza at an affordable price, 70s style, that is, if anyone still remembers what a big slice tasked like in the good old 70s (I remember for sure!). In the meantime, this place will NEVER get my business, aside from the 2 measley garlic knots I got for 2.17 ugh! And this 70s Man will never patronize any gentrified outlet serving worthless robots that are another slave to the Man. Dig it?!

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  15. 70s Prices

    No offense, but the dream for pizza (good or bad) at 70s prices is just that, a dream.

    And it has NOTHING to do with the people that are running the restaurant, or when or where they grew up and if their parents were or were not yuppies.

    It has to do with the greedy landlords who think they deserve more profit than anyone else and drive up rent prices to the point where either the cost of goods must increase, or the business owner is forced to move.

    I have seen a lot of restaurants open here, and in manhattan, and elsewhere. All openings have minor hiccups, but when it is apparent to someone who has never worked the restaurant industry, that the restaurant owners are in the same boat... thats not a minor hiccup, that's a severe lack of pre-planning, research and set up.

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  16. Larry

    Great Pizza, good atmosphere, awesome people behind and on the other side of the counter.
    Let's all be happy for a great place to eat and hang out in the community!
    Cheers!!

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  17. doc

    CB 2 continues it 's extortion of local businesses. Do what we want or we'll block the license you legally are entitled to. Vote these a-holes out.

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  18. Gwen

    Went for a nice slice of cheese pizza - literally told
    To go to back of the room or go
    Elsewhere. So odd and very off putting.

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  19. pleased

    Had lunch there with my boyfriend on Thursday. Best pizza in the neighborhood. I didn't experience any rudeness at all. It has a family vibe and I can tell the staff is mostly friends or family of the owner because that's who he trusts. It's understandable. I would do the same thing if it were my first restaurant. In time he will learn that he needs to put an experienced manager behind the counter.

    I think Gwen is a liar. There's no way anyone who works there would ever say that to a customer. It sounds like she's hating on him because he wants to open his yard. Pathetic!

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  20. del

    Visited L'inzinio last night trying to get a slice for myself and my wife. No one would serve me. When I asked the two 'ladies' at the till for my request, they told me to get back in the non-existent line. You do realize that I carry cash and the desire to support local business right? Also, two regular slices of cheese or 'nanna' slices should take little to no time at all. I came in, saw what I wanted and asked for it. The reply? Just tell the cook. What cook? There was no one there. You had your chance to engage me with a hello and sure. What I got was 'I'd rather not' and "my nails are better than yours'.
    I have no problem sharing with potential customers that the 'customer service' is dreadful at best. It took me literally a second to decide that I will never spend a cent in L'inzinio, and I recommend a person try something else. Literally, anything else.

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  21. r185

    How about we all give them time to hit their stride? This happens in most restaurants. Employees, internal systems, staff training, food, management, etc. all go through varying lengths of breaking in time. What would anyone feel if your first day or weeks on a new job were open to public review and comment?

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  22. Will give them time

    There are "we are new and need some time" mistakes, and then there are "we are new and have clearly never done this before, ever" mistakes.

    If I were on a new job making the second kind of mistakes, I'd be dismissed fairly quickly.

    Here's hoping they find an actual restauranteur to help them move from the second kind of mistakes, and fast.

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  23. Leave the guy alone

    For Christ sake, they make pizza, they aren't performing brain surgery. My God, why are you giving this business such a hard time? It's no wonder the retail environment in LIC is so hazardous -- they have to serve you people! I wouldn't want you sitting in my backyard, so maybe it's a blessing in disguise that CB2 won't allow him to use his garden.

    Sometimes things don't go exactly the way you anticipate -- did you ever imagine that? I'm sure the place just needs to figure out the right pacing for the business. You're going to crucify the guy because he hasn't worked out the perfect timing to serve you a friggin' slice of pizza? Are you kidding me???

    I would pass on one piece of advice to the owner. I would urge him to consider the fact that an evidently large number of their customers are know it all, pain in the A$$es. Suck it up, buddy -- you're stuck with them.

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  24. yoursource

    Pizza was good. I wouldn't go nuts raving about it but I would definitely go back. They really need to get their act together in terms of service and knowledge of how to run a restaurant. Tons of people behind the counter and every single one was disorganized. Normally I'd blame this on the soft opening and everyone just starting out but these people didn't seem like they had any restaurant experience at all. A bit worrisome. The staff wasn't very polite either.

    And I say knowledge because when I asked for a cinque terre pie and pronounced cinque correctly, twice, the girl had no idea what I was talking about. Then she replied: "Oh, you mean cinque" and butchered it in a tone that was correcting me. Come on.

    The no backyard open is typical CB2 and is absolutely absurd.

    Oh and "old-school NYC pizzeria" is one of the funniest things I've read in a while. This is as fancy pants/yuppy as it gets. Not old school or NY style in any way shape or form but still good pizza.

    YourSource

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  25. mike

    fyi

    a 1 &1 is a regular slice and a Sicilian slice

    any self respecting ny'er knows this

    walked in this place and saw the writing on the wall

    totally not for me

    I will continue to go to Italy pizza in greenpoint on Manhattan ave

    great pie for $15

    once again a lic business is totally run by amateurs

    when did this hood turn into murray hill east?

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  26. Mel

    Pizza was good and the rice ball as well, yummy!
    I will definately go back and love the atmosphere as well
    But old school it ain't. Polito's in Astoria is old school!

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  27. Kim

    I want to love this place, and the pizza is good, but what is going on with the service? I have to agree with some of the other posters, that it seems no one knows what they should be doing behind the counter. I came in and no one was waiting in line. I stood in front of the pizzas and not one of the four people behind the glass helped me. I said hi to one of them, and he ignored me. I then walked over to the woman at the register, and saw the post-it that said that you could only order whole pies there, and walked back. I finally flagged someone down and ordered my slices. When I went to pay, the woman behind the register didn't even look up, say thank you, nothing. Not even the most minimal courtesy. It wasn't even busy! It's early and I'll give it a couple more chances, but seriously guys, it's a casual pizzeria, they should have it a bit more together.

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Obama’s step-grandmother visits PS/IS 78
From left are, principal Louis Pavone; kindergarten teacher Melanie Gutierrez; Debra Akello, MSOF executive director; Mama Sarah; and Rosela Rasanga, far right, wife of governor of Kogelo, Kenya. (AP Photo/Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, Gerry Gianutsos) Photo: AP

From left are, principal Louis Pavone; kindergarten teacher Melanie Gutierrez; Debra Akello, MSOF executive director; Mama Sarah; and Rosela Rasanga, far right, wife of governor of Kogelo, Kenya. (AP Photo/Mama Sarah Obama Foundation, Gerry Gianutsos)
Photo: AP

Nov. 20, Associated Press with Christian Murray

Barack Obama’s 94-year-old step grandmother Sara Obama paid a special visit to the children of PS/IS 78Q Tuesday.

Sara Obama, who was married to the president’s late grandfather and lives in Kenya, is in the United States to help develop a better healthcare and education system for her western Kenyan Village where the president’s father was raised and is buried.

The event at PS/IS 78 was kept hush-hush to ensure that it didn’t turn into a media event.

“This was the only school in New York that she went to [while here],” PS/IS 78 Principal Louis Pavone said. “I think she is going to one in Washington.”

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New commanding officer appointed to 108 Police Precinct
Capt. John Travaglia

Capt. John Travaglia

Nov. 20, By Christian Murray

A new commanding officer has been appointed to the 108 Police Precinct, which covers Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City.

Captain John Travaglia, who has spent a significant portion of his career in Queens, will be taking over the command following the departure of Capt. Brian Hennessy.

This will be Travaglia’s first time as a commanding officer. He was most recently the executive officer at the 114th Precinct that covers Astoria. Prior to that, he was an executive officer of the 104th Precinct that covers Maspeth, Middle Village and Ridgewood.

Travaglia takes the top job at a time when there has been an uptick in burglaries and other property-related crime in the precinct.  However, Astoria too has seen a jump in burglaries and other property-related crime.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that he has scheduled a meeting with Travaglia and has heard good things about him. “We look forward to meeting him as we all work to keep the neighborhood safe.”

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City Harvest to package 225,000 pounds of food to deliver to shelters

cityharvestNov. 19, By Michael Florio

There is no shortage of residents looking for a hearty meal these days and one organization is looking to provide the hungry with some relief this winter.

City Harvest, a food rescue organization, will host its second annual 24-Hour Repackathon tomorrow in Long Island City, with the mission of delivering food to the hungry during the holiday season.

The event will take place at 55-02 2nd Street where hundreds of volunteers will aim to package more than 225,000 pounds of donated food—which will then be distributed to families and shelters across the city.

The volunteers will be given 24-hours to pack the food and will work in 3-hour shifts.

The event started last year as a way for City Harvest to package the donated food and increase awareness of poverty. Last year, 215,000 pounds of food was packaged in 24 hours.

The food will be delivered to more than 500 soup kitchens and food pantries, and will be enough to feed more than 2,100 families.

Samantha Park, the communications manager at City Harvest, said that the majority of the end recipients are from working families.

“There is usually at least one person in the family working full time,” she said. “With the expensive cost of living and other expenses, it is really difficult.”

Park said that one-in-five New Yorkers now live in poverty.

Park said that City Harvest tries to focus on gathering fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables. The organization also receives a large supply of canned/sealed food, such as peanut butter and tuna fish, which has a long shelf life.

“This food is very nutritious,” she said.

Park said that the group has enough volunteers for tomorrow’s event.

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President of Dutch Kills Civic Association suddenly leaves, differences over bicycles
Rendering of proposed corrral

Rendering of proposed corrral

Nov. 19, By Michael Florio

The president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association has abruptly left the organization.

Dominic Stiller, who became president of the civic association in January 2013, alerted the organization of his resignation last Monday with a letter to the board.

Stiller’s resignation was based on differing views toward bicycles.

The organization recently held a vote where its members agreed to oppose the placement of bicycle corrals in the Dutch Kills neighborhood if they led to the removal of parking spaces.

Earlier this year, Stiller called for a bicycle corral to be placed in front of his restaurant–Dutch Kills Centraal–located at 38-40 29th Street. His proposal, which he presented to full Community Board 1 in October, would have created room for up to eight bicycles–as well as two planters– but would have removed one parking space.

Community Board 1 voted against the proposal, stating that Stiller didn’t have enough community support.

Stiller said it was not Community Board 1’s denial of his bicycle corral that led him to resign. Instead, it was the vote held by the Dutch Kills Civic Association to kill the concept.

Stiller said the association is more concerned about keeping all the street spaces exclusively for car owners. In his letter he called this view “short sighted and unsustainable,” claiming that it is not working for the greater good.

“There is a recent awareness in the city and country about the importance of providing livable streets… and encouraging alternative forms of green commuting and transport,” Stiller wrote in his departure letter.

“I wish the Dutch Kills Civic had an interest and awareness and open mind to lead or at least support this cultural change locally; it doesn’t,” he wrote.

The new president Thea Romano said the Dutch Kills Civic Association is not opposed to bicycles and noted that the organization has supported bicycle lanes in the past. However, she said, the members are interested in preserving parking spaces.

“We have been fighting for parking for many years,” Romano said. “Whenever there is new construction project, we always request that there is a parking plan put in place.”

“There is a very limited amount of parking space in this community,” Romano said. Therefore, “when he came forward [in April] and said he wanted to take a space away, the board let him know that we weren’t with him.”

Stiller’s term as president was up on December 31st, but he had initially planned on maintaining a position on the board. Now, he said, he will find other ways to improve Dutch Kills.

“Thank you for working with me as president of the DKCA, I hope my resignation from the presidency and the board provides certain awareness to my commitment to alternative progressive methods of urban quality of life improvements. As Dutch Kills moves into the 21st century, these changes will be inevitable,” Stiller concluded the letter.

Romano claims that the association’s vote was not against Stiller’s bicycle corral but to preserve parking. However, she believes Stiller took the matter too personally.

“A lot of the stuff that he has been putting out there is just not true. He is putting such an awful light on the Dutch Kills Civic Association,” she said. “He took it very personally, that’s what it comes down too. One hundred percent.”

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Two businesses about to leave Vernon Blvd., casualties of impending rent hikes

vernon boulevard 002

Nov. 18, By Christian Murray

The business body count is continuing to mount on Vernon Blvd—as two commercial tenants are getting ready to leave.

The Institute for Face & Body Solutions and LIC Chiropractic will be moving out of 47-12 Vernon Blvd in upcoming months. The building is about to be sold and they have been told that they should be prepared to leave.

The owner, who runs the beauty shop, said that she is a middle of negotiating a new space nearby. Meanwhile, Dr. Angelo Ippolito, the owner of LIC Chiropractic, has already found space on 47th Avenue, just around the corner.

The owner of the beauty shop said that the combined rent (of both the beauty shop and LIC Chiropractic) will most likely double to $9,000 per month.

The loss of the two businesses adds to the carnage on Vernon Blvd in the past 18 months—with the closure of Cranky’s Cafe/1682 French Louisiana, Communitea, Papo Fried Chicken, Mario’s Deli and the impending closure of the Chinese restaurant New City Kitchen Express.

“The rents are very high and it is very difficult for your typical business to make money,” said Rick Rosa, the managing director for Douglas Elliman’s Long Island City office. “Unless a business is filling a niche it can be very tough.”

Meanwhile, at 47-12 Vernon, two of the four apartments upstairs have already been vacated.

vernon boulevard 003

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LIC Landing to put up an enclosure, to be open all winter

02

Nov. 17, By Christian Murray

Fancy a winter coffee with waterfront views.

LIC Landing by Coffeed, which is located by the water at Hunters Point South Park, plans to enclose its space this winter providing its patrons with protection from the elements.

“We want to make the park more of a destination—a draw for both tourists and residents throughout the year,” said Frank ‘Turtle’ Raffaele, the chief executive of Coffeed. “After all, this is the Central Park of Queens.”

Raffaele is currently receiving quotes for the enclosure—which would be constructed of glass or Plexiglass. He hasn’t decided whether it will be a 400 sqft. enclosure placed directly in front of the pick-up window (catering to about 40 people) or whether it will be 1,200 sqft. and cover the entire canopy area (catering to as many as 200 people).

LIC Landing will be serving its full menu—which includes coffee, tea, wine, beer, pastries, burgers and salads—over the winter months and there will be waiter service for those who request it.

Raffaele aims to have the enclosure up by Christmas, once the New York City Parks Department has signed off on it. In future years, he would put it up in October and then take it down in mid March.

“We want to be open 365 days where we can serve customers as well as the ferry traffic,” Raffaele said. “This is a big win for Long Island City,” he said.

The Long Island City community has been a large driver behind Raffaele’s decision to stay open.

He said that the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, a group that plans events and oversees neighborhood parks, as well as the Hunters Point Civic Association wanted him to do it, as well as several of his customers.

“Even if I break even or lose a bit of money that’s OK,” Raffaele said. “We are serving our customers.”

Furthermore, he said, many of his employees will be able to work all year round.

LICLanding1

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Urban Market opens with promise of competitive prices
2-14 50th Avenue

2-14 50th Avenue

Nov. 14, By Christian Murray

Hunters Point’s second supermarket—Urban Market– opened on 50 Avenue today with the promise of providing residents the lowest prices in the neighborhood.

Sam Mujalli, the owner of the 8,000 square foot store, said that his supermarket will provide Foodcellar (which has been the only supermarket in the area since it opened in 2008) with some stiff competition.

Mujalli claims that his prices will be between 15% and 18% cheaper than Foodcellar’s. He said that he can provide these low prices since he has 11 supermarkets scattered throughout New York City and can buy in bulk. Furthermore, he said, his family has deep roots– and connections– in the industry.

Sam Mujalli

Sam Mujalli

“My family has been in the supermarket business for 45 years,” Mujalli said. “We didn’t just open a store overnight. My grandfather started it and then it went to my father and then me,” he said.

Mujalli said that his grandfather opened a tiny store in Detroit before moving to New York and setting up a small store in Brooklyn. The family’s first big store was a Met Food in a tough section of the Bronx, he said.

“Every two weeks people would come in to the store and take our money,” Mujalli said, as he rolled up his fingers into the shape of a gun. The family no longer owns that store.

Mujalli said that 50 percent of the produce he will offer at Urban Market will be organic, with the remainder standard items. “You have to give people a choice,” he said.

The store has a large produce department as well as an extensive cheese selection and a gourmet deli.

Several elected officials came to the store to offer their support at the opening this morning—such as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, State Sen. Mike Gianaris and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

Gianaris said the store was needed since there has been a lack of supermarkets in the area for some time. He predicted the supermarket would do well.

Meanwhile Mujalli said that he was excited to open in Hunters Point and appreciated the buzz surrounding the opening of the supermarket.

“Lots of people have been on Facebook and Instagram in the past two months wondering when we were opening.”

urbanmarket2

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Darren Aronofsky and Patti Smith to appear at Museum of the Moving Image

SmithNov. 12, By Michael Florio

Singer Patti Smith will join director Darren Aronofsky at the Museum of Moving Image next week to screen his film Noah.

Smith and Aronofsky will talk about the film and their collaboration following the movie on Monday, November 17, at the museum.

Smith will perform her song “Mercy Is,” which is featured in the film.

Noah, which premiered last spring, is a based on the Old Testament story and stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson.

“Noah is a remarkable cinematic accomplishment, a dazzling epic as well as a thoughtful and very timely interpretation of the biblical story,” said David Schwartz, the Museum’s Chief Curator in a statement.

“We are thrilled Darren Aronofsky and Patti Smith will be here to discuss the movie, and it will be very special to hear her live performance.”

Tickets for the event cost $25 and are currently on sale.

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Station LIC on track to open November 17

StationLICphoto1

Nov. 11, By Christian Murray

The railroad-themed bar/restaurant that is coming to Hunters Point is on track to open next week.

Station LIC, located at 10-37 Jackson Avenue, will be opening on Monday, Nov. 17, according to its owners.

Gregory Okshteyn, a co-owner who had originally planned to open the bar/restaurant in spring, said he had to push back the date several times since he had to overcome several obstacles — such as obtaining a certificate of occupancy to getting the gas turned on.

But the main delay, he said, has been his desire for perfection. “We want to show it off in its grandeur,” Okshteyn said. “We are patient and we want to do it right.”

A few extra months is not much of a delay in the scheme of things. Okshteyn signed the lease 2 ½ years ago and has spent plenty of time on design and construction since.

Okshteyn, who designs bar/restaurants for a living, set his sights on converting the triangular shaped building into a station house from the get-go. The establishment sits directly above the Vernon/Jackson subway station.

Okshteyn, who has lived on Center Blvd for the past three years, was able to nab the location by happenstance. He was walking past the site with Rabbi Zev Wineberg, who is in charge of the JCC-Chabad LIC, and suggested to him that it would make for a great place for a bar/restaurant. Rabbi Wineberg just happened to be investigating the location in his quest to find space for a synagogue. He handed Okshteyn a copy of the lease.

The building had been empty for the 20 years—although it had been used for the movie ‘Cocktail’ starring Tom Cruise.

The location is best known among long-time residents as the home of Blessinger’s, a local watering hole that was there for 50 years (1930s through the 1980s). Okshteyn, who wanted to know about the history of the location, was able to find a Blessinger via Facebook who was able to provide him with some background information.

Construction began on the bar/restaurant in January.

Okshteyn said that during the demolition phase the first thing he got rid of was the sheet-rock. In doing so, he uncovered the wooden beams, exposed brick walls and iron columns that are now features of the establishment.

The bar/restaurant has two levels. The upstairs has capacity for 55 people—including the bar area—and the downstairs has room for 16. In the downstairs hallway, Okshteyn has photos of famous train wrecks that took place in Europe and North America in the past century.

The building’s exterior currently features a red light denoting the point of entry to the station. However, Okshteyn has plans to permit artists to paint murals on the outside walls—perhaps on a quarterly basis. He wants to create a place where artists, filmmakers and photographers all feel welcome.

The bar/restaurant is likely to offer American bistro-style food such as broccoli Parmesan fritters, fried green olives stuffed with gorgonzola, jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon along with sandwiches and salads.

Larger plates will consist of spice rub roast chicken, fried eggplant Parmesan with smoked mozzarella and its own house burger called the Station Burger that will feature grass-fed beef, maple glazed bacon and pepper jack cheese.

However, Okshteyn is looking to offer what will be known as the Ponzi burger. He said the concept is that you get your burger for free under the condition that you buy the next persons.

The idea is that you will meet the person who bought you your burger and you will also meet the person who you bought the burger for.

“I want people to get to know their neighbors,” Okshteyn said. “I even put the tables close together for this reason.”

The venue will be open at 5pm during the week and noon on weekends. The establishment is permitted to open until 2 am.

stationLICphoto4use

stationlicphoto5

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Urban Market opens with promise of competitive prices
2-14 50th Avenue

2-14 50th Avenue

Nov. 14, By Christian Murray Hunters Point’s second supermarket—Urban Market-- opened on 50 Avenue today with the promise of providing residents the lowest prices in the neighborhood. Sam Mujalli, the owner of the 8,000 square foot store, said that his supermarket will provide Foodcellar (which has been the only supermarket in the area since it opened in 2008) with some stiff competition. Mujalli claims that his prices will be between 15% and 18% cheaper than Foodcellar’s. He said that he can provide these low prices since he has 11 supermarkets scattered throughout New York City and can buy in bulk. Furthermore, he said, his family has deep roots-- and connections-- in the industry.
Sam Mujalli

Sam Mujalli

“My family has been in the supermarket business for 45 years,” Mujalli said. “We didn’t just open a store overnight. My grandfather started it and then it went to my father and then me,” he said. Mujalli said that his grandfather opened a tiny store in Detroit before moving to New York and setting up a small store in Brooklyn. The family’s first big store was a Met Food in a tough section of the Bronx, he said. “Every two weeks people would come in to the store and take our money,” Mujalli said, as he rolled up his fingers into the shape of a gun. The family no longer owns that store. Mujalli said that 50 percent of the produce he will offer at Urban Market will be organic, with the remainder standard items. “You have to give people a choice,” he said. The store has a large produce department as well as an extensive cheese selection and a gourmet deli. Several elected officials came to the store to offer their support at the opening this morning—such as Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, State Sen. Mike Gianaris and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. Gianaris said the store was needed since there has been a lack of supermarkets in the area for some time. He predicted the supermarket would do well. Meanwhile Mujalli said that he was excited to open in Hunters Point and appreciated the buzz surrounding the opening of the supermarket. “Lots of people have been on Facebook and Instagram in the past two months wondering when we were opening.” urbanmarket2
Darren Aronofsky and Patti Smith to appear at Museum of the Moving Image
SmithNov. 12, By Michael Florio Singer Patti Smith will join director Darren Aronofsky at the Museum of Moving Image next week to screen his film Noah. Smith and Aronofsky will talk about the film and their collaboration following the movie on Monday, November 17, at the museum. Smith will perform her song “Mercy Is,” which is featured in the film. Noah, which premiered last spring, is a based on the Old Testament story and stars Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson. “Noah is a remarkable cinematic accomplishment, a dazzling epic as well as a thoughtful and very timely interpretation of the biblical story,” said David Schwartz, the Museum’s Chief Curator in a statement. “We are thrilled Darren Aronofsky and Patti Smith will be here to discuss the movie, and it will be very special to hear her live performance.” Tickets for the event cost $25 and are currently on sale.
Station LIC on track to open November 17
StationLICphoto1 Nov. 11, By Christian Murray The railroad-themed bar/restaurant that is coming to Hunters Point is on track to open next week. Station LIC, located at 10-37 Jackson Avenue, will be opening on Monday, Nov. 17, according to its owners. Gregory Okshteyn, a co-owner who had originally planned to open the bar/restaurant in spring, said he had to push back the date several times since he had to overcome several obstacles -- such as obtaining a certificate of occupancy to getting the gas turned on. But the main delay, he said, has been his desire for perfection. “We want to show it off in its grandeur,” Okshteyn said. “We are patient and we want to do it right.” A few extra months is not much of a delay in the scheme of things. Okshteyn signed the lease 2 ½ years ago and has spent plenty of time on design and construction since. Okshteyn, who designs bar/restaurants for a living, set his sights on converting the triangular shaped building into a station house from the get-go. The establishment sits directly above the Vernon/Jackson subway station. Okshteyn, who has lived on Center Blvd for the past three years, was able to nab the location by happenstance. He was walking past the site with Rabbi Zev Wineberg, who is in charge of the JCC-Chabad LIC, and suggested to him that it would make for a great place for a bar/restaurant. Rabbi Wineberg just happened to be investigating the location in his quest to find space for a synagogue. He handed Okshteyn a copy of the lease. The building had been empty for the 20 years—although it had been used for the movie ‘Cocktail’ starring Tom Cruise. The location is best known among long-time residents as the home of Blessinger’s, a local watering hole that was there for 50 years (1930s through the 1980s). Okshteyn, who wanted to know about the history of the location, was able to find a Blessinger via Facebook who was able to provide him with some background information. Construction began on the bar/restaurant in January. Okshteyn said that during the demolition phase the first thing he got rid of was the sheet-rock. In doing so, he uncovered the wooden beams, exposed brick walls and iron columns that are now features of the establishment. The bar/restaurant has two levels. The upstairs has capacity for 55 people—including the bar area—and the downstairs has room for 16. In the downstairs hallway, Okshteyn has photos of famous train wrecks that took place in Europe and North America in the past century. The building’s exterior currently features a red light denoting the point of entry to the station. However, Okshteyn has plans to permit artists to paint murals on the outside walls—perhaps on a quarterly basis. He wants to create a place where artists, filmmakers and photographers all feel welcome. The bar/restaurant is likely to offer American bistro-style food such as broccoli Parmesan fritters, fried green olives stuffed with gorgonzola, jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon along with sandwiches and salads. Larger plates will consist of spice rub roast chicken, fried eggplant Parmesan with smoked mozzarella and its own house burger called the Station Burger that will feature grass-fed beef, maple glazed bacon and pepper jack cheese. However, Okshteyn is looking to offer what will be known as the Ponzi burger. He said the concept is that you get your burger for free under the condition that you buy the next persons. The idea is that you will meet the person who bought you your burger and you will also meet the person who you bought the burger for. “I want people to get to know their neighbors,” Okshteyn said. “I even put the tables close together for this reason.” The venue will be open at 5pm during the week and noon on weekends. The establishment is permitted to open until 2 am. stationLICphoto4use stationlicphoto5
DOT to add protective barriers to Vernon Blvd bike lanes
Jersey barriers

Jersey barriers

The Department of Transportation plans to put up jersey barriers on Vernon Boulevard—from 46th Avenue to 30th Road in Astoria—as a means to protect bicyclists from motorists. The jersey barriers represent another step by the DOT to provide a smooth bicycle connection between the parks in Long Island City and Astoria. The bike lanes on Vernon Blvd – from 46th Ave. to 30th Road-- were redesigned last year, when the DOT created a two-way protected bike lane running along the west side of the street. A buffer of 5 feet– between cars and cyclists--was included. However, Shawn Macias, project manager for the DOT, said that the agency has received feedback since its 2013 redesign that some cyclists want more protection that the existing buffer provides. He said that some motorists use the bike lanes to turn their vehicles around or will even park there illegally. Therefore, Macias said the DOT plans to put up jersey barriers where the 5-foot buffers are currently located. The DOT will not be placing the barriers across the entire strip—just in certain locations Community Board 2 at its monthly meeting Thursday approved the plan. Macias said that since the DOT redesigned the bike lanes in 2013 bicycle and pedestrian traffic has gone up significantly.

2014 10 Vernon Blvd Cb1 Cb2

Capt Brian Hennessy, head of the 108 police precinct, transferred
Captain-Brian-Hennessy1Nov. 6, By Christian Murray The commanding officer of the 108 Police Precinct—which covers Sunnyside, Woodside & Long Island City—has been transferred to head up a larger more crime-ridden Queens precinct. Captain Brian Hennessy, who has spent just 18 months as the commanding officer of the 108, started today as the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct, which covers Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and the north section of Corona. That precinct is larger and has more problems--such as gang activity, prostitution and drugs. The move represents a promotion, since gaining experience in a tougher precinct is often viewed as the way captains climb up the NYPD ladder. While the 108 has had some high-profile crimes recently—such as the robbery of an 81-year old at a Chase ATM and a wave of burglaries in Sunnyside—the precinct is still viewed as a low-crime area. The crime rate—based on the number of reports—is flat so far this year, compared to the same period in 2013. The number of murders and reported rapes are down—although the number of burglaries are up about 7 percent. Hennessy said he enjoyed his time at the 108 Precinct. “I love this community and its leaders,” Hennessy said. “There are so many people who care and want to get involved,” he said. “It was an honor to be there.” The NYPD has yet to appoint a new commanding officer. In the interim, Capt. Richard Hellman, the executive officer of the 108th Precinct, is in command. However, Hennessy’s short stint did disappoint many—since most commanding officers stay at a precinct for two-to-three years. “I am very upset that he is leaving us so soon,” said Diane Ballek, the president of the 108 Community Council. “He is the best captain we have had in a long time,” Ballek said. “If you needed to reach him he was always there,” she said. “He would talk to people [with quality-of-life issues] for an hour some times.” His predecessor Capt. Donald Powers was viewed by many as less responsive and not so much of a people-person, several people said. “I am disappointed [that Capt. Hennessy has been transferred] since I believe he was doing a good job,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “I appreciated working with him and thought he was responsive and a straight shooter who cared about our neighborhood.” Van Bramer said he would be asking NYPD officials whether Hennessy’s short stint represents a new policy or whether what happened was an anomaly. Van Bramer also said he wants a new commanding officer to be named soon. “We cannot have a prolonged absence of leadership,” he said.

Crime Numbers 2014

Wolkoff claims that the 5 Pointz name is his, plans to use name for new towers
JacksonAvenueNov. 5, By Christian Murray Jerry Wolkoff, who is the final stages of demolishing Long Island City’s famous graffiti Mecca, said he plans to call his residential development 5 Pointz. Wolkoff, whose company G&M Realty filed an application to trademark the name in March, has received a wave of criticism from artists who claim they made the name famous. A spokeswoman for the artists told DNAinfo yesterday that Wolkoff’s trademark attempt was an effort to bank on their name. "It's ironic that the same corporation which single-handedly destroyed all the artwork known as 5Pointz is trying to capitalize on its name," she told DNAinfo. "The disrespect continues, I suppose,"  said Jonathan Cohen, who was the curator at 5Pointz and goes by the tag name Meres One. Wolkoff said the property is known as 5 Pointz. “People would go to 5 Pointz to see the street art,” Wolkoff said. “They would go visit my building—not anyone else’s building—to see the art.”
Jerry Wolkoff (source: Newsday)

Jerry Wolkoff (source: Newsday)

Furthermore, Wolkoff said, he worked with Meres in coming up with the 5 Pointz name in the first place. He said that Meres did not come up with the name alone--despite reports saying otherwise. “We collaborated on it,” Wolkoff said. “Do you think I would just let any name go up on my building?” Wolkoff said that Meres used to walk around 5 Pointz thinking it was his building—particularly after he announced his plan to develop the property. “I gave him permission to use it for all these years…and he would work with artists,” Wolkoff said. But the property was always mine to develop, he said, and deep down Meres and his crew knew that. Wolkoff is about to start construction at the beginning of 2015 on two high-rise apartment towers containing 1,000 rental units. Wolkoff said that he is always going to be criticized by a handful of artists. However, he hopes that will change once he has completed the two towers and the artists are invited back to display their street art. But he said that he has come to the realization that developers are not typically seen in a positive light. “I am the man with the black horse because I am the developer and they will always be riding the white horse,” he said.  
Dedicated bike lane spanning Pulaski Bridge to be completed by spring
Rendering of dedicated bike lane from Brooklyn

Rendering of dedicated bike lane from Brooklyn

Nov. 4, By Christian Murray The construction of the two-way protected bike lane spanning the Pulaski Bridge is expected to be completed by spring, according to the Department of Transportation. At a City Council Transportation Committee meeting yesterday, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer asked DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg when the delayed bike lane would be completed. Van Bramer was told that it should be ready by spring 2015 since the project’s contractor was recently approved by the DOT and a construction timeline will soon be released. The dedicated bike lanes, which were expected to be completed in 2014, will bring an end to the tense relationships between cyclists and pedestrians who currently share a lane. The change will result in a two-way protected bike lane that will span the bridge for cyclists. Meanwhile, an existing 8 ½ foot wide lane—that is currently used by both cyclists and pedestrians—will be for the exclusive use of pedestrians. The decision to add the lane comes after years of friction between cyclists and pedestrians. In 2009, when the community sought a solution to the problem of bike/pedestrian congestion, the DOT added markings and signage to help organize traffic and increase safety on the bridge. “Since then, the pedestrian volumes have increased almost 50% and the bicycle volumes have more than doubled, which is huge growth particular in the bicycle mode,” said Nick Carey, Project Manager at NYCDOT Bicycle Program, earlier this year. However, the creation of the dedicated bike lane will bring some changes to Brooklyn-bound motorists. The three lanes on the bridge going from Queens into Brooklyn will be cut to two, to make room for the dedicated bicycle lane.
New design

New design

LIC Holiday Market kicked off Saturday, open through Dec 21
Holiday marketNov. 3, By Michael Florio The LIC Flea & Food kicked off its ‘Holiday Market’ this past weekend and will be open every Saturday and Sunday until December 21st. The holiday market takes place inside a warehouse adjacent to where the LIC Flea & Food market takes place during summer--at 5th Street and 46th Ave. The indoor holiday market, which has come back for its second season, is open for an extended period this year. Last year, it opened on December 7 and went through until December 22. Many of the usual LIC Flea vendors will be at the holiday market. There will be clothing, jewelry, antique and art vendors—as well as those selling food and drink. The market will provide children with the opportunity to get their picture taken with Santa. There will also be live holiday music. The LIC Flea Beer Garden, which opened for the first time in mid-September, will be open serving locally-brewed beer as well as wine. Hours: 11am-6pm Saturdays, Sundays  
New sushi restaurant to open on Vernon
sushirestaurant Oct. 31, Staff Report A new sushi restaurant is opening on Vernon Blvd. The restaurant will be located at 46-44 Vernon Blvd between Alobar and  Petey's Burger. The establishment is expected to open by the new year and currently does not have a name, according to Matt Quigley, whose company Plaxall owns the property.
5 Pointz building just weeks away from becoming rubble
bigbuilding Oct. 30, By Christian Murray Demolition of the five-story building that was once at the heart of the 5 Pointz graffiti Mecca began earlier this week and is expected to be gone in about three weeks, according to building owner Jerry Wolkoff. Wolkoff said that the final stage will begin in about two weeks when he starts demolishing the Jackson Avenue section--which once housed businesses such as local bar The Shannon Pot. “All the buildings should be down by the middle of December,” Wolkoff said. “Then it will be a matter of cleaning up the site and getting ready to start building early next year.” The demolition represents the end of a pitched battle between Wolkoff and the graffiti artists, who were given permission in the mid 1990s to transform a beaten up warehouse into an aerosol canvas. The relationship soured in 2012, however, when Wolkoff announced that he wanted to develop the site. Wolkoff, who said he has had security guards and cameras at the location since demolition began, said the process has taken place without incident. “Most people who have come to the site have come to take pictures—not cause any trouble. Most have been very respectful.” Wolkoff plans to build 1,000 apartment units contained in two towers—with one tower being 47 stories and the other 41 stories. He said most people have supported his decision to develop the property. “About 99% of the people said ‘you gave them the place to work and it is your building,’” Wolkoff said. The artists fought to save the 80-year-old building and filed a lawsuit claiming that their artwork was protected by the Visual Artists Rights Act. The lawsuit is still pending. Wolkoff said that he likes the artists and street art. He said that there will be room for about 20 art studios when he has completed his development and he will place their artwork inside and outside the buildings. JacksonAvenue

Video by Hans von Rittern (go to 4:10 minutes in)

Halloween ‘Trick or Treat March’ to be biggest yet
2014 parade route

2014 parade route

Oct. 29, By Michael Florio The Long Island City Halloween parade is likely to bigger than ever before. This year’s ‘Halloween Trick-or-Treat March’ is expected to draw as many as 900 people to Vernon Blvd Friday, with more than 40 businesses participating. The event, in its seventh year, begins at 4:15pm at Gantry Plaza State Park and goes up 48th Avenue. From there it snakes around 5th Street to 50th Avenue. It will then go up 50th Avenue before making a left turn on Vernon Blvd. Last year, 650 people marched in the parade, with about 400 of them being kids, said Gianna Cerbone-Teoli, the owner of Manducatis Rustica and one of the event organizers. In the first year there were less than 50 children. The number of businesses that are participating has doubled this year. “All the businesses in Long Island City are invited to participate,” Cerbone-Teoli said. Businesses will be offering snacks, candy, photos with super heroes, movies and story readings. Many of the restaurants are also offering dinner and drink specials, according to Cerbone-Teoli. Cerbone-Teoli also added that residents from Jackson Heights and Sunnyside came to participate in the march last year. “It’s great when members of other communities come out,” she said.
Some of the businesses that are participating

Some of the businesses that are participating

Restaurants

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