Metro Village hosts 2nd Community Day

By Jessica Meditz

Rachel Kellner and Mark Libertini, the husband and wife team behind Aigner Chocolates.

This past Saturday, community residents from all walks of life gathered on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills to celebrate Metro Village Forest Hills’ second annual Community Day.

Metro Village Forest Hills is a small business alliance founded by Rachel Kellner of Aigner Chocolates and Eileen Arabian of DEE’S Wood Fired Pizza + Kitchen, which was born out of high tensions amid the pandemic.

It was during this time where the businesses got the idea to host their first Community Day on the Avenue, and hope to continue the tradition for years to come.

“Aigner’s was robbed a few years ago during the pandemic, and the businesses really came out to support us. We decided to create an informal business alliance to provide support to each other and to preserve the richness of the community here,” Kellner said.

“We want to keep those businesses around, and so during the pandemic, obviously events had to be outdoors. So we had this idea to do a Community Day and we did it last year with 30 businesses participating,” she continued. “It went so well that we decided to keep it going. Now it’s going to be a tradition here.”

The Community Day spanned from Royal Collectibles to DEE’S, with businesses up and down the Avenue offering various treats, gifts and positive greetings to visitors.

In addition, 29 businesses participated in a scavenger hunt, where guests received a series of clues and had to guess which business corresponded with that clue, who would then mark it off.

The bingo board-like template was created by community member Samantha Weitzberg.

All guests who filled out their cards completely were entered into a drawing to win a $100 gift certificate to DEE’S and Aigner Chocolates. The winner will be announced by Metro Village this week.

Additionally, 150 prizes were given out at random throughout the day at all the scavenger hunt locations to participants.

Local elected officials took the time to soak up one of the final days of summer sun in Forest Hills, including Councilwoman Lynn Schulman.

Councilwoman Schulman and Alfred Vitsentzos of Nick’s Bistro

“It’s so important to have days like this with people coming out to see all the different kinds of stores, it’s very eclectic,” Schulman said.

“It’s so nice to have local owners and it’s really important to help them,” she continued. “It’s just such a community atmosphere here, and everybody’s just so nice and welcoming.”

Arabian is proud to celebrate the success and accomplishments of businesses on the Avenue, including DEE’S, which just relaunched its weekend lunch service since the start of the pandemic. She believes that this year’s Community Day had an even bigger turnout than last year’s, and hopes to see the event continue to grow.

She admires the diversity of the businesses and all that Metropolitan Avenue has to offer.

“This day brings a lot of exposure to Metropolitan Avenue, which is so important because everyone knows about Austin Street, and they don’t always know about Metropolitan,” she said.

“It really has everything to offer: retail, restaurants, barber shops and hair salons, nail salons, butcher shops, attorneys, everything. So it’s a great way to draw people in and open up the doors of opportunity for other businesses.”