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The Standing Room, Sage Coffee, Close on Vernon Boulevard

The site of The Standing Room and Sage Coffee, located at 47-38 Vernon Blvd. (Photo: Queens Post)

July 5, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

A comedy club and cafe sharing one site on Vernon Boulevard closed over the last weekend.

The Standing Room and Sage Coffee, both located at 47-38 Vernon Blvd., closed on June 30, with the comedy club sending out a mass message to patrons through e-mail and social media.

“We are deeply appreciative of the support the many Long Island City and Astoria locals have given us over the last three years, and value our loyal and dedicated customers who have helped make the bar and comedy club a special Queens destination,” The Standing Room wrote in an e-mail.

The bar said its last weekend would be a celebration of great comedy, music, drinks, and other festivities.

Paul Italia, the owner of the bar and comedy club, claims he closed down the venue as a result of legal issues and “differences” with the landlord.

“It was purely a refusal to renew our lease,” Italia said.

The owner of The Standing Room claims he bought the prior comedy club, the Laughing Devil, about three years ago, and also purchased the existing lease. He said he ran the business as the Laughing Devil for some time, but then relaunched it as The Standing Room.

But the landlord, Howard Adams, made running the business practically impossible, Italia claims, with complaints about the bar, noise, and Sage Coffee–the cafe Italia entered into a partnership with to operate during the day at the site.

A sign posted by Sage Coffee outside the business. (Photo: Queens Post)

“I think what happened was that he didn’t want us there from the beginning,” Italia said.

In response to Italia’s comments, however, Adams said that “they’re all lies.”

He claims the prior comedy club had brokered a deal to sell the business to Italia unbeknownst to him, violating the terms of the lease.

“Paul Italia was not even the lease holder,” Adams said. “They snuck behind my back and did an illegal assignment.”

Adams said he’s been in court for years trying to kick out the new business, but the case was delayed. Meanwhile, the partnership with the coffee shop added insult to injury for Adams, who says it was another illegal operation.

Italia finally left the site, according to Adams, after a settlement was recently reached in court.

“He basically was bribed out of the space,” Adams said, who is now working on fixing up the locale. “A sweetheart deal to leave.”

As for Italia, his focus is on The Stand, another one of his venues based in Manhattan, and moving it to a larger space in Union Square. While he’s taking a break from Queens for now, he’s not ruling out returning to the borough.

“I got a lot of friends in the area, and if there were some partnerships that would come about—I’m not totally closed off to the area,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Vernon Boulevard landlord said he’s completely calling off the idea of another bar at his site, claiming that the comedy club would make noise until the early hours of the morning.

“I want something very quiet,” Adams said, adding that a retail shop or perhaps a restaurant could work for him.

Update 7/6, 12:19 p.m. – Article updated with statements from Howard Adams, the venue’s landlord.

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30 Comments

dog-lover-that-picks-up

One thing LIC is great for is bitchin’. Whether it’s dogs or comedians someone in LIC has got it in for you.. beware.




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Neighbor

The comedy club was great if you didn’t live nearby. But for those of us who did, it was a terrible neighbor and we’re glad it’s gone. There’s a responsible way to run a business and LIC isn’t the only neighborhood to struggle with noisy establishments. Every pocket in Manhattan with any nightlife has dealt with it. Even in the raucous East Village, neighbors want to sleep and bars make it very clear to patrons that they have to keep it down outside–because they know their future depends on it. Or go to Pete’s Candy Store in Wburg and check that out–it’s clear that you can’t be loud out front. Management cares about the neighbors and cares about noise and doesn’t want to lose their lease or get shut down. The comedy club simply didn’t give a crap and unfortunately comedians are a loud and talkative bunch who love to outshout eachother after their sets, and they do that out on the sidewalk, rarely if ever asked by the club to keep it down. All the Standing Room had to do was give a crap…they chose not to. Why would a landlord allow them to stay when neighbors were constantly bothered and complaining to him? He did the responsible thing for the community by not renewing their lease.




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Robert Kahn

The comedy club patrons were loud, block the sidewalk and liked to leave cigarette butts outside, as if Vernon was their own personal ashtray. Howard’s a completely responsible landlord.




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The Instigator

Great, yet another reason not to live in LIC. About one of the only things the neighborhood had going for it. Pay the marginal extra rent and live in Manhattan. These crappy landlords will never get this neighborhood to realize its full potential…




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brooklynmc

I decided to give Sage a try. Funny thing is, they don’t sell coffee. I got an Americana which is what I do when I am in a foreign country and have no other choice. How can a place named Sage Coffee, not sell coffee?




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Vernon Blvd Resident

Good Riddance and it’s about time! Sage coffee might’ve been great but the comedy club was crap! The manager & bartender were rude and disrespectful, the place always had garbage sitting outside from the night before, patrons were loud and obstructing the sidewalk. I applaud the landlord – I’m hopeful he will get an excellent tenant just like the sushi place next door.




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Passive-aggressive name-writing on venti cup

Aw man, now where else am I going have two simultaneous careers going as a comedian and a barista in the same place?!




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Neighbor

I have to say I am extremely happy this place is gone. The patrons and staff had no respect for the neighbors. They would congregate right outside during late hours, yell and smoke right under signs that said “no smoking” and “keep noise to a minimum.” I have been to UCB and other places where there are announcements before and after performances urging the crowd to be respectful of the neighbors, keep the noise down, and not to linger out front. There was never any mention of keeping the noise down when I went inside The Standing Room. Also, Howard is a very down to earth, decent man. He is far from greedy.




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LICBlows

of course he lives upstairs! i feel like you know that already. He lets his dog piss in the middle of the sidewalk too. Instead of trying to work something out with the tenant who took over the Laughing Devil he was a greedy shit about it. LIC is a wasteland. Nothing remotely interesting going on in this entire area. Why do you think so many businesses close here? How on earth is anyone stupid enough to pay the high rents these landlords charge? There’s no foot traffic and everyone leaves for somewhere else on the weekend. The retail is so valuable here, yet it’s only food. No one is stupid enough to open a legitimate retail operation because it’s too fucking expensive. LIC blows. Developers ruined it, and landlords followed suit by overcharging for their retail spaces. The food options suck here. You have 15 italian restaurants within a five minute walk in any direction. no diversity. the area is a bust and they just keep building.




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Anonymous

3 things.
1) The dog is a service animal and was trained to go at the edge of the sidewalk and not in the street. The animal was specifically trained that way and when 50 people were smoking on the sidewalk blocking the dogs spot, yes sometimes it would go on the sidewalk as close as it could get to the edge. I happen to know the dogs Both the last one and new one. (last one died)

2) In neither the Landlord or tenants comments was there ever any mention of money being the issue. So how do you conclude that greed has anything to do with it?

3) People have a right to live/sleep in peace. It was supposed to be a comedy club but was open all night as a bar with loud people and loud music. We all know they were terrible neighbors. Anybody with any sense wouldn’t want a wild scene outside their home like that. Good riddance!

If you miss the place than go to the creek and cave. Great drinks and comedy 2 blocks away! Not like this was the only bar or comedy spot in the hood anyway.




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brooklynmc

Dogs peeing on the sidewalk really bothers me. It is easy to fix and really is a huge quality of life issue for non-dog owners.




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charles a castro

Astoria and LIC are the biggest rip offs in the city as far as dining and drinking go. Manhattan spots are now a lot less expensive than all of these rip off Hipster joints. I know that the landlords are greedy, so it’s a combination. Start wining and dining in Manhattan, let the neighborhood that have been ruined by the Hipsters who have no vision or discernment eat the expensive crap here.




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brooklynmc

Not true. There is some good dining to be had here in LIC and Astoria. Hipsters live in Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick. LIC nor Astoria are filled with hipsters. You are just an angry old grouch who lashes out at people he does not even know.




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charles a castro

You could say what you want New Jack, but you cannot deny the truth. I bought a bagel at Brooklyn Bagel, 90 cents for a slice of cheddar cheese, 70 cents for a thin slice of tomato, etc. etc. So for a mini bagel with turkey bacon, lettuce tom, & onion and cheddar, no coffee $12.90.. You get a sandwich four times the size of that at Sal Chris and Charlies, but since these trust fund idiots have not discernment, they pay whatever, $5.00 for coffee.. So trust me, New Jack, I rather go to Manhattan where I find $1.00 oysters, $7.00 Burgers, $3.00 beers.. Astoria, LIC NYC biggest ripoffs.. PERIOD




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brooklynmc

Just for the record, I have lived on Center Blvd for almost 5 years and have not met a single person who does not work very hard. The majority of families are two income to survive raising children in NYC. Everyone knows NYC is expensive and it is not because of some small percentage of so called “trust fund idiots”.




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Ha

Ok that last bit is BS. There are a ton of stay at home moms on center.




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tim

Only a newjack herb would patronize a wack establishment like Brooklyn Bagel-then whine about the prices on a blog. Stay in Manhattan you Nerd




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charles a castro

Bobble Head, where would you like me to whine about it? Soft whispers in your boyfriends ear perhaps, yell about it on the subway, hand out fliers at a anti- Trump demo? Blogging is the way of life in 2018 dope, how did you wine up here?




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Curmedgeon

Howard Adams sounds like one of these characters that probably lives upstairs and doesn’t want anything interesting or different on Vernon Blvd. Just board up your windows and put curtains in your doors like 47-16 and it will be quiet. Or open another sports bar/sushi place and it will always be empty. So boring and lame.




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Concerned Citizen

Perhaps if the owners of the Standing Room were more $upportive of a certain someone’s three years in advance fundraising effort for election to Borough President, matters would be different.




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Anonymous

This is a huge bummer. Standing Room had great cocktails at reasonable prices, and had some good acts too.

I don’t know what the landlord wants — the space itself is really weird, so narrow and long, so he should be grateful to get anyone in there who can make a go of it.




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HB

I don’t even see why the landlord would care what was there if they were getting their rent paid? It certainly seemed like folks were respectful of the space. I’ll especially miss Sage Coffee, I really liked their lattes and croissants. 🙁




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GMG

Well word on the street was that they were always late on their rent, some vendors stop selling to them for lack of payment…who know…




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MRLIC

Oh great, another example of these greedy landlords, like the president I voted for, hurting working families like me and my stuffed animals.




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MRLIC

The FAKE MRLIC wrote the July 5, 2018 comment on Greedy landlords and stuffed animals. Get your own SCREEN NAME. No one believes you are me.




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Whoooaaa

/////Bong Rip
Who is anyone really, but products of one another’s collective perception?




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MRLIC

So true. So, so true. You’ve really made me take another look at the situation. Thank you for that, my friend.

Say, let’s have a parade!




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