More than a dozen restaurants—fed up by the way the media portrays Long Island City as well as the adversarial nature of the Health Department—have come together and formed an association to promote the neighborhood and tackle a range of issues from the health department grading system to sanitation problems.
The group, called the Long Island City Restaurant Association, held its first meeting at the Creek and the Cave, located at 10-93 Jackson Ave., last Tuesday. The owners/managers of several well-known establishments participated, including: Alobar, Masso, Alewife, Manducatis Rustica, Riverview Restaurant & Lounge and LIC Market.
Rebecca Trent, the owner of the ‘Creek and the Cave’ and the association’s chief organizer, said the members all have similar concerns.
Trent said they are frustrated by the how some members of the media try to compare Long Island City to Williamsburg. “We are not a hipster haven,” she said. “This is a neighborhood of young professionals and children– not men with handlebar moustaches.”
“Some of the older journalists—who are not tapped in– think that anyone who is in their 20s/early 30s is a hipster,” Trent said. Furthermore, “many of these same reporters haven’t even spent any time here.”
Another issue is that some media outlets pitch Long Island City like it’s a hotel.
“Some people promote the area as a cool place to live given how close it is to the city—but fail to say what a great place it is to hang out in,” said Jeff Blath, the owner of Alobar.
Therefore, the restaurant owners say, the underlying message can easily be interpreted to mean: hang out in the Manhattan, sleep in Long Island City.
The organization aims to speak with one voice, where its members refute the hipster and hotel generalizations–and promote the Long Island City restaurant and bar scene as a destination for visitors.
Bath said the organization, which is expected to meet monthly, will grow as awareness increases among restaurant owners.
The new organization aims to promote its own events such as a restaurant week. “We are in the best position to determine when is the best time of the year to hold events,” said Doris Nowillo Suda, who manages Riverview Restaurant, as opposed to newspapers or outside groups. “We all know when the slow periods are and how to price specials.”
Trent said that the group is useful in that they can work together in discussing Dept of Health issues, which continues to be a concern.
Trent is confident that the group’s health department concerns will be listened to. She said that Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office sent a representative to the meeting and that Van Bramer sponsored legislation that was passed in October that helped reduce fines.