July 22, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
Two local business owners are spearheading the revival of a popular open street program on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria.
The open street — which sees a section of Ditmars Boulevard closed off to vehicular traffic — will return Saturday and stretch four blocks from 33rd Street to 37th Street.
The car-free street will run from noon to 10 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through to the end of December, organizers say. Eateries will be able to expand seating onto the street while there will be music and other family-friendly activities in front of Queen’s Room, a cafe-restaurant located on the corner of Ditmars and 36th Street.
The Ditmars Boulevard open street was held in 2020 and 2021 but the DOT could not find any local organizers to host the program for this year. The DOT typically partners with local business owners or volunteers to organize the program.
The open street was not included in the DOT’s full list of 156 open streets announced in April — and it looked doomed to be canceled this year.
However, business owners Nicole Panettieri and Antonia Joannides have stepped in and secured a permit to host the program for the rest of the year. Panettieri owns The Brass Owl boutique and The Tiny Owl baby store while Joannides owns the Queen’s Room. All three establishments are situated within the Ditmars Boulevard open street.
Panettieri said they decided to help revive the open street because it boosts the local economy and brings the neighborhood together. She said it was very successful over the last two years.
“This community is important to me and doing things that help support the community and bring attention to our neighborhood in general, is important to me,” Panettieri said.
She said the open street will mostly benefit the area’s restaurants as owners will be able to expand seating on the street.
However, Panettieri said that all stores along the street will gain from the extra foot traffic.
This year’s open street will also be larger than in previous years — running one extra block up to 37th Street.
Panettieri said workers for Dave’s Lesbian Bar, a local pop-up bar, will set up an area outside Queen’s Room at 2 p.m. Saturday where performers will play live music, tattoo artists will showcase their work, and family-friendly activities will take place. The bar’s workers will also be taking donations to support local mutual aid causes.
“It will be very community-oriented,” said Panettieri, who said she is excited to get the program up and running again.
Panettieri is also appealing to other local businesses, groups and vendors to contact her about hosting events along the open street over the coming months.
Those interested can email [email protected].
She also asked that residents follow the open street’s official Instagram page for updates and to share information about the program.
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