Authentic Mexican food & entertainment at Lime & Salt Cantina

A small business with a huge heart

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Obet Juarez & his staff Emmanuel, Francisco, William, Claudia, Isidro and Catalino give a thumbs up to community.

Queens is nicknamed the “The World’s Borough.” Holding up to its title is a most diverse culinary landscape, where Lime & Salt Cantina holds the mark of distinction for a Mexican restaurant and bar, inspired by iconic taquerias and longtime traditions.

At 98-102 Queens Boulevard in Rego Park, freshly prepared authentic dishes, cocktails and entertainment come together in a colorful ambiance, creating a unique community destination.

Owner Obet Juarez, a 34-year-old Sunnyside resident, cultivated his dream by bringing part of his native residence of Puebla, Mexico to Queens Boulevard, which came to fruition on Feb. 4 of this year.

From the moment patrons enter, they are often greeted by Juarez and his friendly team. Then the personalization continues while sitting at cozy booths or at the bar, creating the sensation of an extended family.

“My recipe for success is to love what I do,” Juarez said.

The chef is his brother, who not only has experience preparing Mexican dishes that resemble “food art,” but with cuisines including French, Italian and Greek.

“We learned from our mother’s style of cooking and loved it so much, that we wanted to share it with the world by offering our food alongside our famous cocktails to introduce something special for the neighborhood.”

His role model also included his bosses. “I saw how well it went for them, so over the years, I wanted to do the same,” he continued.

A bird’s-eye view of authenticity, courtesy of Lime & Salt.

Signature elements of Puebla, the fourth-largest Mexican city, include its culinary history, pottery and Colonial architecture.

Juarez, who emigrated to the U.S. at age 16, has worked in the culinary industry ever since.

He recalled, “I began working as a dishwasher and then I moved into the kitchen. From there, I worked on the floor and was a bartender for 10 years.”

Juarez takes pride in his heritage. He said, “Throughout my time working in Manhattan, I wanted to open a place that felt like home. I dreamt of a Mexican restaurant, where I could sell food that originated in my home country.” The restaurant name bears cultural significance. “We came up with our name, ‘Lime & Salt’ through the years of saying it, since we use lime and salt for our tacos, beer, shots and more foods. It’s very common and the name sounds catchy,” said Juarez.

Lime & Salt’s walls feature murals of a map of Mexico with maracas, a calavera, which is known as a decorative skull, tacos and a chihuahua bearing the Lime & Salt logo.

Other decorative features include a mariachi sombrero, tequila bottles and traditional colorful collectibles hanging from the walls and the ceiling.

Without a doubt, Lime & Salt’s ambiance has been a breeding ground for unique memories since its opening.

“We have a mural that says, ‘Will You Mariachi Me?,’ and we actually had a couple who got engaged here and took a picture with it,” Juarez said.

Site of a proposal. Photo by Michael Perlman

Patrons can sing their way into the weekend with karaoke every two weeks on Friday beginning at 7 PM (subject to change). Occasionally, a DJ adds to the vibe.

Juarez explained a most anticipated dish as the nachos and steak nachos to be specific.

“It comes with mozzarella, black beans, ranch, sriracha, pico de gallo, guacamole and any choice of meat ranging from chicken, chorizo, al pastor, steak, shrimp and birria, but what makes the nachos special is the way our chef prepares the chipotle cheese sauce.”

As for the most unique dishes, he highlighted “mole enchiladas.”

“It is from my hometown. It’s a very unique sauce that is made with 60 ingredients. Examples are chocolate, almond, crackers, raisins and different kinds of chili peppers. It’s a sweet sauce, which is very common where I’m from.”

Their signature dish, “Boulevard Molcajete,” consists of carne asada, chicken, chorizo, queso frito, nopales, papalo leaves, cebollitas, cilantro and salsa mocha, which is served with rice, beans and tortillas.

To warm up this winter, “caldo de pollo” soup or “tortilla soup” would do the trick.

Patrons also have a lesson while enjoying a wide selection of taqueria, such as “al pastor,” consisting of onions, cilantro, marinated pork, grilled pineapple, salsa verde, radish and cucumber, which is served with three tacos. Eye-catching sides include adobo fries and nopales & cebollitas.

A meal is not complete without dessert. A classic is the “tres leches” Mexican milk cakes.

A full lineup of unique cocktails includes a “Rego Park Old Fashion,” consisting of bourbon, amaro Averna, special house syrup and orange aromatic bitters.

Signature cocktails, courtesy of Lime & Salt

For additional zing, choose a “Sweet & Spicy.” This is a serrano-infused tequila, passionfruit, triple sec and of course, lime and salt tajin.

Juarez is a humanitarian. “I donated outside of my restaurant, but we are open to partnering and contributing to community causes,” he said.

Additionally, he is open to hosting community events, family gatherings, parties for all occasions and catering outside his restaurant.

Besides maintaining his dream business that supports the community, his family and staff, he said, “My long-term plan is to create more jobs by opening more businesses.”

Patrons have warmly welcomed Lime & Salt.

A bustling crowd.

Forest Hills resident Audrey Pavey explained, “After reading about this restaurant on Facebook six months ago, I decided to stop by and try it. I had the ‘Mexican cobb salad’ and I always get it to go. I get home late from work and I’m always looking for a quick and convenient place. I love the flavor of the chicken, chorizo, avocado and corn. I am a creature of habit.”

She also admires the rapport and embraces the small business model.

“The owner and staff are very friendly and always invite me to have a seat at the bar, while I wait for my food to go. It’s a very comfortable atmosphere,” Pavey said. “I try to support our local businesses whenever I can, since it’s important to have a thriving community with places to eat, drink and congregate. I hope Lime & Salt remains part of our community for a long time to come.”

“The food is fresh and full of flavor, and we love it,” said Niki Szenasi of Rego Park. Her daughter can attest to that. “So far, I’ve ordered delivery. My two favorite dishes are the chicken quesadilla and the chicken burrito. The ambiance is colorful and fun. I’m also such a loyal customer due to the friendliness of the staff. Every time I call to place an order, the person on the phone is welcoming and overall very pleasant. It’s so important to preserve small businesses since they add personality and character to our neighborhood and help put money back into it,” Szenasi said.

She envisions holding events there. “I could totally see myself hosting a Women’s Empowerment gathering. It’s a wonderful addition to our neighborhood and I’ll continue supporting Lime & Salt.”

Forest Hills resident Lauren Gantman cannot forget the veggie fajita, which she first tried last summer, and most certainly the accommodations.

“I have food allergies, so the wait staff and manager checked all ingredients. They were able to adjust the platter specifically. It’s important to feel safe eating in a restaurant,” she said.

Eddie Alvarez and his family, who live nearby at Birchwood Towers, discovered Lime & Salt over the summer after encountering Yelp.

“One evening, my wife, our three-year-old and I were blown away by the hospitality, food, overall service and experience. We are big foodies and eat here quite a bit,” he said. “We have been here on Fridays for Happy Hour, as well as socializing with family, friends and kids. I have a small group of Forest Hills dads and we grab drinks occasionally, and last week, my wife scheduled a ‘mom’s night out.’”

Some favorite dishes that they don’t seem to deviate from are nachos, mahi-mahi tacos and shrimp tacos.

Their daughter orders from the Kids Corner menu, and enjoys her empanadas and French fries.

“The food is authentic and seasoned just right, and the drinks measure up,” he continued.   

When Juarez is not in the dining area and interacting with patrons, he cherishes his family time, especially with his two daughters.

Owner Obet Juarez & manager William, Photo by Michael Perlman.

“We hope to impress this lovely neighborhood and offer new experiences. From what we have noticed, it’s filled with wonderful people who are from various countries, and we are happy to be part of the community,” Juarez said.

Lime & Salt’s hours of operation are from 11:30 am to 11 pm on Monday to Thursday and Sunday, and until 1 AM on Friday and Saturday.

Patrons can call (718) 275-1575 or place an order online via Grubhub, Seamless, Uber Eats and DoorDash.

For more information about this community gem, visit www.facebook.com/limeansaltRegopark, @lime_andsalt on Instagram or www.limeandsaltregopark.com.

Sounding the alarm: Race to preserve historic FDNY pedestals

Joining forces after a restored fire alarm pedestal vanishes

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Northern Blvd & 55th St, The now missing historic alarm side by side with its plain replacement, Photo courtesy of FDNY.

For over a decade, Woodside resident and volunteer John S. Colgan, nicknamed the “Fire Alarm Box Guy,” has meticulously restored historic cast-iron V.F. (Valentine Fendrich) fire alarm box pedestals.

But without any individually landmarked via the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, some are being removed, including one of Colgan’s restored models in Woodside.

In an age of rapid demolition, residents worry that another chapter of the city’s historic character is further being diminished.

A couple of weeks ago, some locals, including Colgan, were devastated to learn that Box No. 7802, a 1921 V.F. pedestal on Northern Boulevard and 55th Street in Woodside, was removed and replaced with a plain rectangular 1950s-style O’Brien model a few feet away.

Ten years ago, my mother gave me some money and told me, ‘Go paint and clean the neighborhood.’ No one could have known that simple gesture would lead me a decade later to advocating for the preservation of the FDNY fire alarms,” Colgan said.

John Colgan applying finishing touches, V.F. model, 67th Ave & Queens Blvd, Photo by Michael Perlman.

Today, there are an estimated 15,077 fire alarm boxes citywide. A majority of the ornate V.F. models date to 1913, 1921 and 1931, whereas the 1950s non-descript O’Brien models have a prototype dating to 1947.

The historic treasures exhibit Beaux Arts meets Art Nouveau vine-like lacework, topped by a torch, where details are often enhanced in gold to accentuate their craftsmanship.

This columnist helped Colgan survey Forest Hills and Rego Park’s historic pedestals and actively supported the restoration process.

Locally, Colgan dedicated a year toward restoring a circa 1929 model on 67th Avenue and Queens Boulevard, which was completed in August, followed by another on 66th Avenue and Queens Boulevard, where restoration is now underway.

Each of Colgan’s restoration projects becomes a public show, as witnessed by passersby who gain an education on their history and intricate nature behind restoration.

As a result, an online petition was posted a week ago, requesting NYC Individual Landmark status for all remaining historic pedestals, a halt on their removal by the FDNY and a reversal on the ones that were already removed.

So far, the petition garnered nearly 600 signatures plus comments.

John Colgan restoring the 66th Ave & Queens Blvd V.F. pedestal, Photo by Michael Perlman.

Colgan believes that no one is suggesting that every pedestal remain precisely where they are.

“We have to be realistic with our goals of preservation, but the city and the FDNY did not consult with local residents to see where we wanted our community’s alarms to be reset. Box No. 7802 was removed and the community does not know where it is located.”

He suggested that it could have been moved two blocks away to a major intersection of Broadway and Northern Boulevard, or placed at a park within his community’s crossroads.

Years earlier, a historic model met the same fate on Austin Street and 70th Road, as well as in front of the Forest Hills Post Office, where a circa 2012 O’Brien replacement is already falling apart.

Referencing the Woodside scenario, an FDNY spokesperson explained that the intersection is part of the NYCDOT street redesign to address pedestrian safety.

“The V.F. pedestal was too close to the intersection where work was being completed. DOT contractors are tasked to install a new O’Brien pedestal in the new pre-determined location, so we can de-energize the old pedestal and activate a new one to avoid any prolonged out of service issues of the alarm box. In this situation, the old V.F. pedestal is returned to an FDNY depot garage. This one will most certainly be preserved.”

The FDNY spokesperson pointed out that if a V.F. pedestal is returned in worse condition, it may be kept for parts for repairs of other such models.

The FDNY Bureau of Plant Operations does not deliberately remove or replace historic pedestals, according to the spokesperson.

“The qualifying reasons for removal and replacement is if the V.F. pedestal is structurally unsound regarding its sub-base or pressure fitted upper portion, which can result in serious injury if it falls. The other is if it is within the perimeter of NYCDOT’s work for pedestrian sidewalk safety. In such cases, the VF pedestals are secured and transported to a FDNY depot, where it is kept for possible future installation elsewhere, if feasible.”

“The FDNY doesn’t produce these types of pedestals anymore. We are vested in the preservation of these historic pedestals and take measures to ensure they are secured and preserved,” the spokesperson continued.

However, after observing the historic pedestal most recently in Woodside, following earlier scenarios, local residents are sounding the red alert.

“Please don’t remove the fire alarms. They mean the world to our communities, for what they symbolize and their historical context,” said Inmaculada Gattas of Kew Gardens.

Another petition signer, tour guide and professor, Riley Kellogg, provided three reasons for on-site preservation.

“These historic fire alarms are beautiful to look at, enhancing the aesthetic experience of a street and neighborhood. It is an educational reminder of the history of our city and technological development. They help keep the appreciation of ‘New York’s Bravest’ in our minds.”

“These boxes are a lovely leftover from my childhood,” added Liz Zollner. “Can’t be fixed? I am sure they could be built to house a modern system. Quit ruining the character of NYC. You have free maintenance from a devoted New Yorker. Let him do his thing.”

Sometimes residents feel a sense of ownership.

“I have one on 70th Ave. and 110th St. I have been wondering for years when they will give it a fresh coat of paint. They should not be removed,” said Mitchel Powers.

Their historic character has been additionally stunning, according to Ida Langsam of Forest Hills.

“John Colgan’s gorgeous restoration brightens up the corner of Queens Boulevard and 67th Avenue, where it is admired by all and adds to the neighborhood’s special nature.”

Colgan sees the fire alarms as the largest and heaviest worldwide.

“It would only seem natural that we would also have the nicest ones in the world, but that is not the case. The FDNY fire alarms are in a horrible condition,” he said, citing decades of paint, rust and human and dog urine, as well as missing pedestal doors, screws, torches and handles.

“The ones that do have all of their parts are being restored citywide by people like me. They grew tired of waiting for the government to do something, and took it upon themselves to paint and preserve their local fire alarms,” said Colgan. Examples are in Brooklyn, Inwood and Northern Queens.

“Local residents decided that their community could not afford to lose such an important piece of our history, so they painted it in hopes that would deter the FDNY from removing their 100-year-old work of art, but that did not turn out to be the case in the fire alarm that I began restoring in Woodside,” he continued.

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission’s mission is to regulate NYC’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites after granting landmark or historic district status.

Citywide, greater than 37,800 properties are landmarked, where a majority are located in 154 historic districts and historic district extensions.

The sum includes 1,446 individual landmarks, 121 interior landmarks and 11 scenic landmarks.

Besides facades, individual landmarks can include street furniture.

For historic lampposts, the earliest date to the mid-1800s, and many will continue lighting the way due to the Commission’s blessing.

An estimated 100 historic cast-iron lampposts were identified, which resulted in the “Historic Street Lampposts” designation in June 1997.

It consisted of 62 lampposts and four wall bracket lamps, spanning Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Notable examples include one on 53rd Avenue between 64th Street and 65th Place in Maspeth and on Rockaway Boulevard near 150th Street.

Meanwhile, the remainder were already safeguarded within historic districts or situated on landmarked sites.

At least seven sidewalk clocks will also keep on ticking, as a result of landmark status.

The clocks were a significant part of the late 1800s NYC landscape.

The designations include a Seth Thomas Co. clock in front of 522 5th Avenue from 1907 and the Bomelstein Jewelers clock by E. Howard & Co. in Greenpoint.

There is much to be discovered about the history of V.F. pedestals.

VF & OB pedestals, 1912 to 1978, Courtesy of FDNY.

To Colgan, each fire alarm is an educational tool for the right teacher.

“The alarms were handmade by long-lost craftsmen and incorporate art, history and American invention and engineering. We don’t know who made the original models and in which foundry, or where the original molds are located and who was the original artist. Many of these questions can be answered over time and by examining multiple alarms, but nothing can be done currently or in the future if there are no alarms left to enjoy.”

Colgan considers them “historic street art.”

“Each is individually made with a unique personality. We must landmark them so future generations can enjoy their beauty, as we do today.”

Village Grill: A town center in Forest Hills

Embracing the magic touch and humanitarian values for 10+ years

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Owner Dina and waitress Angela.

For nearly 11 years, owner Dina Stergiopoulos of Village Grill has opened her heart to Forest Hills patrons and the greater community by working long hours to freshly prepare signature Greek meals and classic American favorites.

Situated on an inviting corner of Ingram Street at 73-01 Yellowstone Boulevard, patrons have sparked friendships with the owner, waitress Angela and fellow patrons, all while enjoying diverse scrumptious foods at reasonable prices.

Along with her late husband, Panagiotis Stergiopoulos, they opened Village Grill on Feb. 28, 2012, which may seem as if it was yesterday.

He was a much-admired face of the community, but passed away on Dec. 31, 2021 after battling cancer.

“My husband was funny, outgoing and always smiling,” Stergiopoulos said.

Panagiotis with food to be donated during the pandemic.

Today her husband is fondly remembered by patrons, and she is committed to keeping his spirit alive with every meal she cooks and by continuing to give back to the community by donating meals to people in need.

Stergiopoulos will host the “Village Grill Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway” on the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“There will be 50 turkey meals with mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, biscuits and apple cake. My goals after my husband passed were to become a better person and try to help people and carry on his legacy,” Stergiopoulos said.

“I want to provide a warm home-cooked meal to people in need. This is a way to remember my good-hearted husband, so his soul can be at peace.”

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple donated a total of 40 meals to Long Island Jewish Forest Hills Northwell Health, NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and the 112th Precinct.

Patrons do not need to travel far to feel as if they are in Greece for an afternoon or dinner engagement, thanks to the charming ambiance that features the color scheme of the Greek flag, model sailboats, paintings and ceramic artwork. One can even take a Greek crash course, where a sign features catchphrases such as “kalo fagito” for “good food,” “orea mera” for “nice day” and “kalimera” for “good morning.”

Stergiopoulos was raised in America, but when she was 16, she built upon her family’s Greek heritage in Athens. Her husband was born and raised in Volos, Greece.

“We came to the USA in 2003 and got married on Oct. 28 of that year,” she recalled.

Dina & her late husband Panagiotis preparing sausage.

They lived in College Point and later relocated to Forest Hills, a close distance to Village Grill.

A tradition runs in the family. “Everyone in my family likes to cook,” said Stergiopoulos.

“My grandma, Pige, was an influence on all of us, as she made everything good, but her signature dish was stuffed grape leaves with rice. My grandma taught me how to prepare them two years before she passed. Mine are good, but my grandma’s were excellent.”

Pige did not use a recipe book. “Her measurements were a handful of this and a pinch of that,” Stergiopoulos chuckled.

Stergiopoulos and her husband had a dream.

“We wanted to work hard and retire in Greece at a small village outside Athens, where he could have a small parcel of land and raise his own chickens and plant vegetables,” she said. “I am focusing on the business very much these days, so I do not feel the pain that is left behind when a loved one goes away. I am very blessed that I have customers; my friends that have supported me. My customers walk into my shop and I mostly know them by name. They walk in and say, ‘Dina, what am I eating today?’ That is a beautiful feeling. I greet my customers like friends that come to visit. It’s beautiful how even customers that moved away still come to dine.”

Village Grill has a “recipe for success.” “I always say we are not perfect, since mistakes happen, especially when it is very busy. If a dish is undercooked or overcooked and is brought to my attention, I will make it right. The one thing I say and I am always proud of is that it’s fresh. This is how I managed to stay open for nearly 11 years,” she said.

Between the walls are many timeless memories.

Dina & her husband Panagiotis upon first opening in 2012 .

Stergiopoulos considers the restaurant as her home that she erected with her husband, and she spends more time at the restaurant than her residence.

“It is our baby,” she said.

A memory of the recent past surfaced. “Even when my husband was ill in the wheelchair, he spent his day at the restaurant window, greeting people as they walked. He did not want to stay home.”

Another fond memory was celebrating her husband’s 55th birthday on April 9, 2021, where not only family was in attendance, but a family of close friends. To mark the occasion, there were 55 balloons.

Dina’s husband Panagiotis, head of table on his 55th birthday with 55 balloons, April 9, 2021.

Family-style recipes are always on the menu, in contrast to gourmet recipes.

Stergiopoulos said, “People want to eat, especially if they’re enjoying their food, so we serve a good-sized portion.” For example, a platter consists of a Greek salad, a side dish and meat. Once a patron orders a platter, they receive their salad as the meat is freshly being prepared.

“Every souvlaki and meat is cooked to order,” she continued.

Stergiopoulos is detail-oriented, which also contributes to her success.

When patrons often ask what makes a great Greek salad, her response is the olives and the feta cheese.

“I only use imported Greek feta and olives. I am in general a big cheese eater, and when I go out to eat, if another restaurant doesn’t know the brand of feta, I won’t order the salad,” she said.

Since day one, she goes on a trek for quality meat. She explained, “I don’t order meat to be delivered, but have to hand-pick it to ensure it is not laying around on a truck. I cut and marinate all of my meat at the restaurant, and it’s never frozen.”

Spinach pie is among her patrons’ favorites. “It is prepared with many fresh herbs and original feta to make the difference,” she said.

Dina & her “Never trust a skinny chef” collectible.

A popular soup is chicken avgolemono, featuring celery, carrots, lemon and orzo.

A unique pita sandwich is Bifteki souvlaki sandwich, which consists of a meatball with spices, tomatoes, red onions and tzatziki sauce.

A beef gyro platter (80 percent beef and 20 percent lamb) and features a small Greek salad, tzatziki, pita and a side of one’s preference.

Also available is a variety of starters, salads, burgers and wraps, such as the Santorini fish wrap and a Mediterranean wrap. Authentic sides include oven-roasted lemon potatoes and grilled vegetables.

A meal is not complete without dessert, such as baklava, galaktoboureko and rice pudding.

A full line of beverages includes Greek coffee, cappuccino and shakes.

Every day on Village Grill’s hot table, comes the “Special of The Day,” which remains identical on certain days. Stergiopoulos said, “Monday is always oven roasted chicken legs. Wednesday is spaghetti Bolognese, and Thursday it’s chicken again, since people love it. Friday is usually a fish dish, Saturday is pastitsio (Greek lasagna) and Sundays is usually beef stew. People ask me what is in this dish, and my answer always is ‘a lot of love,’ since I like to cook and create new recipes.”

Village Grill is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily, with the exception of Tuesdays, and free delivery is available until 8:45 p.m.

Village Grill’s authentic Greek ambiance.

On her day off, she is an early and determined riser who cleans her home and then enjoys a leisurely walk with her dog, goes shopping and watches TV with Sophie at her side.

“Cleaning is another obsession. If your space at home or in your ‘second home’ is clean and orderly, your life will be,” she said.

If Stergiopoulos decides to retire someday, she hopes to relax, but cannot visualize herself sitting and doing nothing. “I want to volunteer in helping people in any way I can, and especially young children,” she said.

Until then, her priority is Village Grill, where every day she shares her magic touch among a community of friends.

She is open to community partnerships for the upcoming Village Grill Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway, particularly to benefit the needy. Interested organizations can email [email protected] or call 718-544-4024.

Forest Hills Gardens Foundation updates archive, engages public

Rediscovering and preserving Forest Hills Gardens history

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Archives Committee of FHG Foundation at work.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s board and Archives Committee is on a mission, preserving a photo, illustrated map and a publication at a time.

Last week, they reviewed the archives, and brainstormed how to take it a step further by sharing never before seen memorabilia with local to worldwide residents and researchers.

The locations featured in most photos are easily identifiable, but as for others, the Foundation and residents may feel like team players and can say, “There’s a mystery on our hands.”

Many photos featuring early Gardens residents also remain to be identified.

Founded in 1909, Forest Hills Gardens, designed by principal architect Grosvenor Atterbury and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., is a quintessential example of an earliest planned garden community nationally.

This model residential development, complete with Tudor and Arts & Crafts-style mansions and rowhouses, few apartment buildings, winding streets, lush parks and monumental trees, was inspired by Sir Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Movement.

Today, clubs including the Men’s Club of Forest Hills, Women’s Club of Forest Hills and West Side Tennis Club remain in existence, which are testaments to neighborliness and community spirit for generations.

Clubhouse of West Side Tennis Club.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s history can be traced to 1909 as an advocacy group, formerly known as the Forest Hills Gardens Taxpayers Association (FHGTA), with a mission statement that reads: “The purpose of the Association shall be the promote the common welfare of all persons residing within the territory of Forest Hills or Forest Hills Gardens.”

“They successfully advocated with government and service providers to help obtain a local fire company, increased rail service, a post office, schools, a playground and much more,” said Foundation President Bruce Eaton, a 23-plus-year Gardens resident who feels that he enjoyed every minute of it.

“The Gardens is an important community from a historical perspective, but also to those of us who live here. It is a physical manifestation of how good community planning can enhance our quality of life,” he continued.

As for the Foundation, he explained, “Residents crave to know our history, so it falls on us to help preserve it.”

Although the Foundation originated as the FHGTA, it morphed into the Community Council circa 1919.

“When the Sage Foundation Homes Company pulled out of the Gardens in 1922, the community formed the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation to take over the community’s maintenance. Many of the people who helped create the FHGC and who became leaders within the FHGC were from the Community Council,” Eaton continued.

“There has always been synergy.”

When residents and visitors picked up a copy of “Forest Hills Inn,” an early 20th century illustrated pamphlet by philanthropic organization Russell Sage Foundation’s subsidiary, Sage Foundation Homes Company, they learned about the Gardens’ benefits of location, education and business, as evident by the planning of parks and open spaces alongside homes embodying architectural treatment.

This primary source exists within the archives. The archive also enables its audience to realize the potential for restoring neglected sites such as the historic Flower Shop and trying to solve the mysterious disappearance of relics such as original signage from a series in Station Square, which is supposedly safeguarded by restrictive covenants.

Forest Hills Flower Shop circa teens, but now abandoned.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s archive features historic events such as annual Fourth of July celebrations in Station Square, which includes Col. Theodore Roosevelt’s “100 Percent American” speech on July 4, 1917 at Forest Hills Station, as well as festive gatherings on Flagpole Green.

Col. Roosevelt delivers his 100 Percent American speech, July 4, 1917.

Eaton began serving as Treasurer in 2011 after longtime resident Paul Stanley died.

The much-admired William E. Coleman served as President since the 1990s, and then in 2018, Eaton acquired his role, representing a younger generation of Foundation leadership.

That is also when the organization was renamed from the Forest Hills Gardens Taxpayers Association.

Major committees include Finance, Nominating, Archives and Website & Marketing.

“We have 10 board members and are looking to expand,” Eaton said.

The Forest Hills Gardens Foundation’s board and Archives Committee consists of diverse members who have a significant interest in history and participation in community affairs.

Forest Hills Gardens resident Bea Hunt, who co-chairs the West Side Tennis Club’s Tennis History & Archives Council, is also grateful to serve on the Board and Archives Committee of the Foundation.

“We have a unique opportunity to expand the Foundation’s physical and electronic archives, in order to document and preserve our great heritage for residents and researchers worldwide,” she said.

“I am delighted to serve on the board of the Foundation, since it fills a large vacuum in the preservation of our local history,” said resident Ann Chamberlain, who is also active on the board of the Forest Hills Women’s Club and has served on the Forest Hills Gardens Beautification Committee.

She explained, “The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation’s mission is to maintain, and where needed, repair the physical plant that is the Gardens, whereas we strive to record the Gardens’ evolution throughout its over 100-year existence.”

One may wonder about an estimate of historic images and documents that exist within the archive.

“We are planning on doing a drive to gather more photos and documents on our website, but there are 829 historic images and 340 historic documents, dating from 1910 to 1935 or so. We have over 100 vintage home photos that current owners seem to enjoy,” Eaton said.

Some of his standout images are the early construction of Station Square and early community events such as Children’s Day.

Childrens games at annual 4th of July festivities circa teens.

“Perhaps my favorite depicts horses drinking from the horse trough (now benches) that was in the middle of Station Square,” he added.

Eaton is also very much intrigued by Forest Hills Gardens Bulletins by the Sage Foundation Homes Company from 1915 to 1925.

“There are so many things that are still topical today, such as mosquito control and the Spanish Flu of 1918, and many others that truly reflect the time; such as WWI’s impact and the process of building a community,” Eaton said.

In 2017, www.foresthillsgardensfoundation.org was launched, and it has become a searchable resource.

Highly illustrated Forest Hills Gardens map, 1927.

Eaton said, “In the upcoming year, we intend to scan the Gardens Bulletins in a more interactive format. They are online now, but you cannot perform internal searches. A portion of the photographic images are downloadable, but we intend to make them all downloadable at some point.”

Eaton believes that there is nearly not as much awareness of the Foundation’s pursuits as there could be.

“Many residents would enjoy perusing the content on our website if they know about it. I also feel they would be surprised at our achievements spanning a 113-year history,” he explained.

To organize and catalog an extensive collection based on professional standards, Certified Archivist Lois Kauffman was appointed, and in January 2022, archival records were organized in acid-free folders and five archival document boxes.

Rusty metal was removed and deteriorating documents were copied onto acid-free paper. Then a finding aid was produced to inventory and describe the collection.

The collection consists of six series: Incorporation, bylaws, tax exemption; Board of Directors; Projects, activities, history, publicity; lectures and special events; publications; photographs.

A decision was made to store these materials in an environmentally-controlled storage facility.

Eaton explained the next steps. “Now that we have a real structure, we will conduct outreach to local residents to gather more materials that we know many residents have. We will add to our collection and make them available digitally. The Seeler family, longtime residents, agreed to donate bound copies of Forest Hills Gardens Bulletins, which we will make scannable online. At some point, we may request materials that the Sage Foundation donated to Cornell University and are stored there.”

When the Foundation reoriented its focus on education and preserving history, at least one major event takes place annually.

Eaton said, “This year, we held a presentation honoring the 200th anniversary of Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthdate, with Olmsted biographer and Gardens resident Justin Martin speaking. It also featured a video we produced of the Olmsted family’s impact on the Gardens.”

In recent years, also of great public interest, was a film and lecture about the Olmsteds and presentations by guest experts on Grosvenor Atterbury and the influences that shaped the Gardens.

Scholarly articles have also been published locally.

According to Eaton, the board has some very ambitious thoughts on what the Foundation can become. “We have been debating a drive to create a physical presence in the Gardens where residents can come browse our materials and website in a gallery-like setting, but that would be a long way ahead.”

Although restoring historic properties falls outside their scope, the board and Archive Committee may be able to assist with research requests to help accomplish that.

To submit vintage photos or reproductions, email [email protected]

Chic new cafe opens in Forest Hills

Forest Cafe wants to be an ‘oasis’ for locals

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Forest Cafe’s attractive storefront.

All coffee lovers of Forest Hills and its surrounding communities now have a brand new cafe to add to their lists.

Forest Cafe, located at 68-04 Burns Street, celebrated its grand opening last Saturday, inviting the community into their spacious, bright and comfortable location.

The cafe is powered by the family-run staff of sisters, Julie and Nina Fung, and Nina’s fiancé, Paul Shim.

The trio has been residents of Forest Hills for about a decade, and are proud to serve their neighbors and the community they call home.

Forest Cafe’s three-person team (L to R): Nina Fung, Paul Shim and Julie Fung.

“Since we’ve been residents of Forest Hills for such a long time, we’ve always wanted a cozy cafe in the neighborhood to be able to study and work,” Julie Fung said. “Earlier this year, we saw this place and we just had a very clear vision of what we wanted it to be.”

The space, decorated in a trendy, minimalist style with pops of green both in the form of plants and the canopy exterior, offers a peaceful and cozy atmosphere for patrons.

Photo courtesy of Julie Fung.

Fung describes the cafe’s interior as a combination of Japanese and Scandinavian influences, and a mixture of all their decorative tastes.

There is ample seating for guests, including booth-style tables, stool seats, window benches and two cushioned chairs situated by a coffee table.

Also a plus is the complimentary Wi-Fi offered to patrons, as well as outlets to charge electronic devices.

Photo courtesy of Julie Fung.

“We really hope this place becomes an oasis for the Forest Hills community, for our friends, family or really just anyone who’s looking to stop by,” Fung said. “We wanted to make our cafe as peaceful as possible, which is also why we love this location so much. It’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Austin Street, while still being in the heart of Forest Hills.”

Forest Cafe offers a variety of drinks, including classic espresso drinks, such as Americanos, macchiatos, cortados, cappuccinos and lattes.

The drinks are made with Project X Coffee beans, which are inspired by Japan, grown in Brazil and roasted in Chicago.

They’re also excited to share some signature drinks, including their Forest latte, iced shakerato, ube latte, matcha latte, hojicha latte and a homemade iced tea.

The cafe’s namesake beverage is their signature latte that’s made with organic maple syrup, a hint of cinnamon and can be served hot or iced.

As for food, they serve croffles, which is a hybrid of a croissant and a waffle. They explained that the croffles are made fresh daily, and come in the flavors of plain, pistachio, Nutella or s’mores.

The team hopes to expand their menu soon, hopefully to include more savory items, as well as possibly obtaining a liquor license to experiment with drinks in the future.

“We make a lot of drinks at home that we’ve never been able to share publicly, or they’re hard to find. We have our own twist on these drinks, so that’s also what we wanted to provide,” Shim said.

“We enjoy seeing people drinking these drinks and enjoying it, and if it can get any better, we’d love to work on it,” he continued. “We all just love food, drinks and sharing it with others. It’s a love language.”

Living in the neighborhood for some time, all three team members love the beauty and the friendly, community atmosphere Forest Hills has to offer.

“I actually wouldn’t mind staying here for the rest of my life, to be honest,” Fung said. “I might wander here and there, but I think I’ll always want to come back to Forest Hills.”

“Our goal for this cafe is to become a staple in this neighborhood, a landmark. For example, if you’re in Forest Hills, you know about Forest Hills Stadium,” she added. “That’s how big we want to grow this place to be.”

Forest Cafe is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

For more information, visit @forestcafenyc on Instagram, or stop by Forest Cafe to welcome the business to the neighborhood.

EEEEEATSCON Festival returns to Forest Hills Stadium

Martha Stewart visits Forest Hills

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Culinary sensation Dan ‘Grossy’ Pelosi with the legendary Martha Stewart at EEEEEATSCON, Photo by Michael Perlman.

EEEEEATSCON can be considered a festival like no other, especially at the nearly 100-year-old Forest Hills Stadium, a breeding ground for tennis and music history.

After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the festival made a strong comeback, building upon the success of the 2018 and 2019 events.

Throughout the afternoon of Oct. 8 and 9, an estimated 10,000 guests made their way through the stadium and its accompanying grounds, where every turn had a surprise in store.

With 32 restaurants, families and friends discovered a highly curated selection of culturally diverse foods that are both locally and nationally sourced.

Additionally, they dined to the beat of unique bands and a DJ, enjoyed activities, picked up souvenirs and attended presentations by industry pioneers and culinary and creative professionals, including the legendary Martha Stewart.

“This is a special event for The Infatuation and Chase Sapphire, since we really take the time to consider the community experience,” said Michael Sinatra, chief of staff of The Infatuation x Zagat. “Ensuring that we have a wide offering of food representing so many different cultures, interesting panel discussions that merge food and culture, and some incredible entertainment, make it a truly unique experience.”

Sinatra pinpointed behind-the-scenes facts. “The Infatuation curates all of these restaurants using insights from our food writers across NYC, the U.S., and London. We’re not just bringing any Cuban sandwich up from Miami, but rather we connect with our Miami writer and ask what the best option is, as in this case, Sanguich De Miami. The same can be said for our options from Los Angeles, London and beyond.”

The festival is the product of imaginative teamwork. “In some ways, we’re planning for these events throughout the year, as we do it with our partners at Chase Sapphire in Los Angeles in the spring and Forest Hills in the fall,” Sinatra said. In 2021, The Infatuation was acquired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. “The aim was accelerating their investment in dining, and it further demonstrates JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to meeting customers where they are with exceptional benefits, useful content and one-of-a-kind experiences. Consumers can expect to see more partnerships between the brands, as we continue to grow together,” he continued.

A family enjoying simple pleasures alongside The Infatuation backdrop, Photo by Michael Perlman.

Food vendors felt like a “who’s who” in the culinary industry.

Apollo Bagels, whose team originated in June with sourdough bagels in Williamsburg, is now popularizing their bagel halves with toppings including lox, heirloom tomatoes and red onions.

All the way from L.A. is Harold & Belle’s, which has a 50+ year history, and they are renowned for classic Creole dishes.

Shake Shack x Hoppers marks an exclusive EEEEEATSCON duo featuring the London-based Sri Lankan restaurant.

Attendees were advised to anticipate a burger with spice, curry and punchy flavors.

West African style grain bowls were also on the menu, thanks to Teranga in East Harlem.

Friendly service at the classic Sally’s Apizza, Photo by Michael Perlman.

The legendary Sally’s Apizza was established in 1938 in New Haven, CT, and served scrumptious brick oven pizza, earning it a spot in the “Pizza, A Love Story” documentary.

Detroit-style pizza could be found by visiting the kiosk of the Williamsburg-based Ace’s Pizza.

If one was craving home-style South Indian specialties, Semma made the cut and is rated a Best New Restaurant of 2021.

Not so far away, Zaab Zaab came from Elmhurst to serve highly regarded Isan dishes from northeastern Thailand, prepared with chilies, herbs and lemongrass.

The vibe further comes alive through guests from not only New York, but numerous states.

Dr. Jaimee Hazel of Jamaica, Queens attended with her mother, Dr. Donna Elam, and her daughter Jazzi Rhodes. “The highlights were trying food from all around the country and some from NYC that I never heard of, but the best experience was exploring the event with my mother and daughter. We had a blast at the La Croix experience. We acted like kids at a carnival and received some nice swag in the process,” she said.

As for the presentations, she added, “I learned that Martha Stewart is a down-to-earth person and willing to share her culinary expertise with anyone who asks.”

When she thinks of EEEEEATSCON, “unique” immediately comes to mind.

Swinging with Aperol Spritz, Photo by Michael Perlman.

“People from different cultural backgrounds, living in all boroughs, from all walks of life, were able to mingle in a beautiful setting while being unified by their common love of food and merriment,” Hazel said.

“I passed this train stop multiple times and never knew Forest Hills Stadium existed,” she continued. “What a gem. I look forward to attending more events.”

It’s so great to be able to attend events like this literally in our own backyard,” said East Meadow resident Jhoesly Santana, who attended with friends Tim and Carmellie and brother-in-law Irfan.

Santana enjoyed the exposure to great food from all over without having to leave NYC.

“We came prepared with a list of places to try, but were pleasantly surprised with the additional places. The best parts included the authenticity of The Wiener’s Circle crew featuring the best hotdog I ever had, the Peppa’s Jerk pork, and the catfish nuggets at Harold and Belle’s, and I don’t even eat seafood, so that should tell you a lot.”

Santana took pride in how a multitude of vendors set up their stations creatively, as well as the exclusive collaborations, several bars, various lounges and performances.

“There was always something going on. We were having drinks while waiting in line and could watch the marching bands or The W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew dance, or take pictures with the decorative displays which made everything interactive. The caviar lounge was also very nice.”

First-time festival attendee Rosa Maria Lazon of Forest Hills enjoyed the afternoon with her family.

She said, “It is a unique event that offers and supports diversity, where there is something for everyone to enjoy. It is meaningful for such a historic site as Forest Hills Stadium to host it.”

She praised the variety of food, the music, the DJs, emcee, the drummers, the drinks and ice cream, topped with delightful, sunny weather.

Another resident, Joseph Gasso attended with friends. His highlights included the Wiggle Room pop-up, which featured house cocktails such as the Slam Dunk Disco with mezcal, under a disco ball, and having big eyes for variety.

He said, “This is an affordable festival for foodies that’s coordinated by one of the most reputable food sources, The Infatuation. I loved that most of the food vendors were close to the entrance. There was plenty of space to walk around and the vibe was great. This was my third EEEEEATSCON and I can’t wait to come back.”

The lineup of musicians transcended attendees to far corners of the world.

The sensational FogoAzul surprises guests, Photo by Michael Perlman.

On Saturday, as patrons were sitting at picnic tables on the stadium’s court, dining in the exclusive Chase lounge, or making their way up to the multi-tiered food kiosks on the stadium’s stage, FogoAzul NYC offered one of the most rhythmic experiences.

Based in Queens, they are characterized as NYC’s all women/non-binary Brazilian American drumline.

They feel that “music and rhythm is in every human, if you give them the means, very loudly.” On average, they perform at 150 events annually, including parades.

Red Baraat, which originated in Brooklyn, prides itself on initiating unity and joy, and consolidates hard-driving North Indian bhangra with hip-hop, raw punk and jazz elements.

Also from Brooklyn, the nine-piece band, Brass Queens, draws inspiration from New Orleans music with modern pop.

Some of their performance spots include “Good Morning America” and the 2021 Met Gala.

Another show-stopper, W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew (We Are Family For Life Entertainment), made its way around the stadium campus.

They explained, “In the LiteFeet dance community, there are different teams; we knew with the platform of dancing on the subway, we can start our own. What makes us unique is everyone’s individuality and talents. We are great by ourselves, but better together.”

DJs played various genres including Latin, hip-hop, 1980s rock and dance, thanks to DJ OP!, DJ Matthew Law, DJ Perly and DJ Lovelisa.

Saturday’s guest speakers included Martha Stewart, Bun B and Black Thought of the Rappers Who Cook panel, whereas on Sunday, Hasan Minhaj and Ramy Youssef were also attractions.

Bun B is known for impacting the hip-hop scene over 25 years ago as one half of the acclaimed UGK.

Black Thought is co-founder of “The Roots” and is a most prolific voice in hip-hop, who won three Grammy Awards.

Minhaj originated the weekly Netflix comedy series, “Patriot Act,” with Hasan Minhaj.

Award-winning Egyptian-American Youssef is a comedian and actor who produces and stars in “Ramy,” a popular Hulu show.

Not a seat was left empty when it came to Martha Stewart, who spoke in a tent for over 45 minutes, which also consisted of a Q&A session.

She is an Emmy Award recipient TV show host and an entrepreneur who founded the first multi-channel lifestyle company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and is also a best-selling author of 100 lifestyle books.

She maximizes everyday living by capturing audiences with cooking, gardening, healthy living, pet care and collecting among other topics.

“One of my mottos is to learn something new every day,” said Stewart. “I have a new show coming out on Roku. We signed a new contract for 39 shows a year for the next three years. It’s divided between cooking, holiday and gardening. Talking to interesting people every day is so important to me.”

She also discussed The Martha Stewart Podcast on iHeart.

“I’ve had everybody from Snoop, who I find extremely interesting, to Kris Jenner, Clive Davis, who’s an old friend. I try to get people that I actually know. I want to talk to them about what they’re doing and what interests me about what they’re doing. Sometimes we go over an hour and a half or almost two hours, and I don’t even realize that we’ve been talking so long. When that happens, you know you had a good conversation.”

When asked if there is a form of media that she has yet to tackle such as a documentary, she responded, “Well, I’m working on that. You’re going to love this documentary. Netflix bought it. It will come out within a year.”

It will be produced by R.J. Cutler, who is associated with Billie Eilish and also focuses on legends such as Elton John.

“It’s unusual, but then the fictionalized version will come out after that. It will be me exaggerating my life. It hasn’t been announced yet, but wait for that,” she continued.

Andre’s Hungarian Bakery: A cornerstone for generations

A taste of Hungary in Forest Hills

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

One mom and pop shop that reads NYC all over it is Andre’s Hungarian Bakery, which has enticed palates with authenticity for generations.

This cultural gem has welcomed patrons since 1976 at 100-28 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, and today it is one of the last-of-its-kind traditional kosher bakeries, especially for Queens.

Their slogan, “Where pastry is art,” comes alive as soon as patrons encounter the window display and enter the small, yet charming and nostalgic shop, where the experienced staff complements the culinary experience with a smile.

Rose Heimann (1919-2018), who emigrated from Hungary, is the original owner who achieved the American Dream.

“She asked me what I should name it, and I said to name it ‘Andre’s Hungarian Strudels & Pastries,’” her 73-year-old son, Andre Heimann, said.

With much faith, she granted life to an empty storefront, and as of 1981, he entered the business and they both became faces of the community.

The ambiance features cases and shelves of Hungarian pastries, stained glass fixtures and bricks, and shelves of native collectibles with a tributary photo of “Grandma Rose.”

“I’ve kept the bakers and all of the old recipes and traditions of the holidays alive,” Heimann said. “She deserves all the credit in the world, and the fact that the Forest Hills mom and pop shop is there after 40 years, is something very few stores can say. People took Andre’s home for the holidays and they still are.”

Despite today’s rise in chains and shift in real estate values, the ownership and staff at Andre’s, who considers themselves “a family,” is determined to persevere by continuing to bake Hungarian pastries by hand the old-fashioned way, while using the finest ingredients.

Fatima Auwar, Tino Melendez, Lucio Carlos behind delectable Hungarian pastries.

At the time that Andre’s opened its doors, the neighborhood was dotted by kosher and traditional bakeries, delis and butchers, including Jay Dee Bakery, Evelyn’s Bake Shop, Peter Pan, Sandy’s Surf Delicatessen, Boulevard Delicatessen, Ben’s Best, Glick’s, and Lazar’s.

Traditional favorites that are bursting with flavor are plentiful and include blueberry, plum and apple pies, Napoleon, rugelach, babka, strudel, Sacher torte, Dobos torte, croissants, Linzer tarts, fruit squares, danishes, assorted cookies, floden and beigli.

To become better acquainted, babka is a sweet yeast cake swirled with either chocolate or cinnamon raisin.

Their classic rugelach features nuts, raisins and a mix of apricot and raspberry jelly, whereas chocolate rugelach offers a rich chocolate filling and a hint of hazelnut.

Classic Rugalech

Layers of walnut and poppy seed come together with prune lekvar on top, if one is craving for Floden.

An artful beigli pastry consists of sweet yeast bread, complemented by dense walnut or poppy seed filling.

Sacher torte is a dense chocolate sponge cake with chocolate glazing and layers of apricot jam and finely grounded nuts, invented by Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Metternich of Vienna.

Dobos torte is a layered sponge cake with chocolate buttercream, topped off with caramel, and named after Hungarian chef József C. Dobos, a Budapest delicatessen owner who invented it in 1885.

Adding to traditions, Andre helped develop an online presence in relatively recent times, which included shipping baked goods countrywide.

The website further engages patrons with a behind-the-scenes clip titled, “Making Strudel.”

This legendary dessert is prepared on a long table and features a light and flaky crust with sweet or savory fillings.

According to the staff, “Making strudel is a form of art that takes years to perfect,” and they owe much gratitude toward Andre for one-on-one training.

Andre was born in 1948 in Újpest, the Fourth District in Budapest.

“In 1949, my parents left, since many Jews wanted to leave Europe after WWII. I grew up in Brazil and Caracas, Venezuela, and then we ended up in the Bronx,” Heimann said.

“In 1962, I started seventh grade here. My younger brother was born in Brazil. My parents came here with a suitcase and two kids to start a life. Coming to America was not easy,” he continued. “They didn’t speak the language, but they were willing to work. She had a drive to succeed.”

Rose & her son, Andre Heimann on her birthday in 2010.

His mother once lived in Elmhurst.

Andre reminisced about opening day, which was prior to Thanksgiving in 1976. “It was a huge hit. There were lines. It was a very Jewish neighborhood. Those were the golden years, and there was a demand and products spoke for themselves.”

Linking the past to the present, he said, “Everything is made the old-fashioned way. Nothing is mechanized or bought frozen. Everything is touched by hand.”

He continued, “The key in the bakery business is selling fresh pastries, or you won’t get a return.”

Prior to 1976, his mother Rose was an employee at another famous bakery, Mrs. Herbst’s Homemade Strudels & Pastries, which was located at 1443 Third Avenue in Manhattan, but replaced with a residence. “Her first paycheck was $1.10 an hour in 1966. That was minimum wage. Imagine working for that,” Heimann explained.

Mrs Herbst’s in the 1930s, where Rose Heimann began working.

“She worked in Yorkville, which had many Germans and Hungarians. She was there for over 10 years before opening up the little shop you see in Forest Hills. She took one of the best bakers to come and work with her, Mr. Hans, who was German. He ordered all the supplies, had the recipes and did all the baking. She also took along the strudel lady, who would come two to three times a week. She had to come in the evening, since you don’t have the space.”

After Andre’s father passed away in 1981 and as a result of the old-time baker passing away, it motivated him to become more involved.

“I was very eager to help my mother. I never worked in a bakery, but had to start from scratch. I taught myself, but there were also many Hungarian and German bakers willing to teach me,” he said. “At that time, everyone had a little recipe book. You couldn’t Google recipes. I had to put in a lot of hours to get to the point to bake everything in the store.”

In those years, there were trained bakers who worked in Europe prior to emigrating, Andre recalled. “There was a little more respect and it was easy to find Hungarian bakers,” he said.

Rose Heimann at Andre’s circa early 1990s.

As a businessman, he then felt determined to build upon his recipe for success.

Two blocks east of Andre’s, he owned the Jet Age-inspired Empress Diner in the 1980s and applied a Hungarian twist (now demolished), and then in the early 1990s, briefly owned Andre’s Café on Restaurant Row.

In 2004, he opened a branch at 1631 2nd Avenue, later renamed Budapest Café, which specializes in traditional entrees, strudels, crepes, wine, espresso and cappuccino.

At 1049 1st Avenue is Andre’s Hungarian Strudels & Pastries.

“I took pride in quality products, these businesses and the fact that I could make everything, since at one time I couldn’t,” he said.

Andre recalls his mother as an unbelievably dedicated, strong woman, partially motivated by his father, who had a few businesses overseas that were unsuccessful.

“They don’t make that breed anymore. She was there from opening until closing, every single day. Whenever someone came into the store, whether it was at 8 a.m. or 8 p.m., she would still be there. She was a tough cookie. I don’t think you’ll find that dedication anymore,” he said. “She worked full-time in the bakery until she was 89 and passed away at 99. It was her oxygen. I would work in the back with the bakers as she would work in the front with the customers, handling the cash. She made sure everyone got fresh pastries, every single day.”

Today’s staff continues to keep the tradition alive.

“We keep the old recipes. Everything is old-school, the way it was over 40 years ago, and that’s why people keep coming here,” said front manager Fatima Auwar, a nearly nine-year employee. “I know a lot of customers for a long time, and I feel very happy.”

She is most tempted by their chocolate croissants and Sacher torte.

Tino Melendez and his brother, Eric Melendez, dedicate much of their energy toward operating the business.

Tino, who held his current position for the past two years, but worked with Andre for many more, pinpointed a key ingredient.

“We feel at home like a family,” he said. “Andre and the chefs taught us how to bake everything from scratch.”

His favorite pastries are Napoleon and plum pie. He is often in the back, ensuring that the baking supplies are spotless and ready for the next order.

The head baker, Jaime Vasquez, has a long history at Andre’s, which dates back nearly three decades. Second-hand baker, Lucio Carlos, has been a mainstay for six years.

When it comes to his favorite pastries, he said, “I don’t have a choice” and chuckled, but then selected a traditional seven-layer cake.

“I work eight hours daily and six days a week, and I aim for the best quality,” he continued.

For a taste of Hungary in Forest Hills, place your order at (347) 935-3120 or say “hello” to the crew in person.

The forgotten art of advertising thermometers

From functional thermometers to collectible art

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

Lawrence Brown Prime Meat Market circa 1940s, Rego Park.

Some vintage items may be collecting dust, but think twice about tossing them — since they may hold artistic, historical and financial value.

Such is the case of long-forgotten “advertising thermometers,” which were advertised in newspapers in the late 1890s, while keeping in mind that Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit invented the modern thermometer in 1714. These relics could be found locally and nationally.

In the 1890s, America was largely rural and other than postcards and trade cards, it was generally a challenge to advertise, but thermometers engaged the public in a unique way through design and could be readily observed and utilized.

In the 1920s, as towns and cities across America evolved from rural to more urbanized destinations, the analog thermometers became even more prevalent.

They were a popular form of advertising for everything from bakeries to liquor stores to meat markets, and from food, automobile, healthcare and photography industries to World’s Fair expositions.

Most came with hangers to display inside or outside a home.

After the 1980s, they dwindled in popularity, and increasingly so as a result of mass advertising and detecting temperatures through digital technologies.

Today, there is an average of 11,000-plus advertising thermometers on eBay at any given time, and they are indeed a hot commodity, which capture nearly every theme and size imaginable and sell anywhere from 99 cents to $8,345.

1942 Art Deco Coca-Cola advertising thermometer.

Some standout thermometers are a die-cut 1910s “Drink Moxie,” a St. Bernard washed coal, a girl drinking Coca-Cola in 1939, Snow White cream soda, OshKosh B’gosh Work Wear, a Norman Rockwell-themed 1984 General Motors Parts, a cartoon-like Nesbitt’s Orange Soda and “Plant Coker Hybrids.”

Decades ago, a business owner could not have predicted that what was offered to patrons as a promotional means, whether free or as a bonus alongside a purchase, would hold a high value for today’s collectors.

Often for local brands, rare early wood thermometers could be circular and nine to 12 inches in diameter, whereas a rectangular model could be astonishingly up to six feet.

Most frequently, they were 17 inches.

Empire State Building advertising thermometer.

Diverse shapes initiated character with round signs bearing clock-like hands, whereas others were vertical rectangles or squares.

Sometimes they resembled the products that they represented such as a bottle of soda.

It was the thought of advertisers that it would remain on display in a shop longer than a more predictably shaped advertising thermometer.

The outdoor models, which rose in popularity in the 1920s, especially for rural areas, enabled residents to determine not only the temperature, but wind direction.

Advertising thermometers can be found in styles including Colonial, Victorian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Early models were manufactured from tin and wood, which somewhat transitioned to porcelain.

In the 1940s, Masonite was the preferred choice for drugstore advertising thermometers.

Some manufacturers’ names can be discovered in classified ads, if not evident on advertising thermometers.

An ad published in The New York Sun on Aug. 15, 1897 read, “Wanted — Our line of advertising thermometer novelties for 1897-1898 is now ready. We pay liberal commission to competent salesmen. Send 10 cents in stamps for catalogue, sample and terms. Taylor Bros. Co., Rochester, N.Y.”

“Where the good thermometers come from” was their slogan.

Taylor Instruments was founded by George Taylor, a Stoddard native in 1851.

In the early 20th century, their factories were not only in Rochester, but in Toronto, London, New York City, Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, St. Louis and Philadelphia.

The firm evolved into what is presently known as Taylor Precision Products, which is acclaimed in measurement products.

The Feb. 22, 1899 edition of Printers’ Ink — A Journal For Advertisers, featured a Taylor Bros. Co. ad, where an excerpt reads: “The wood thermometer has been used as an advertising medium for a number of years and is to-day a staple article. The force of the wood advertising thermometer lies in being able to read weather temperatures at a greater distance than is possible with small thermometers.”

It continues, “By omitting the words usually printed upon one side of the thermometer scale — ‘Zero,’ ‘Freezing,’ ‘Temperate,’ etc., and alternating the figures of the scale on either side of the tube, makes it possible to use figures more than twice as large.”

An illustrated Taylor Brothers Co. ad ran in The Magazine of Business in 1905, which read: “What will you give your customers this year? The best thing to keep your name before them is an Advertising Thermometer. More valuable than calendars or novelties because they are appreciated and work for you every day for years. Better pay 12 ½ cents for an attractive 7” x 2” aluminum thermo with your ad on (see cut) than one-half as much for a one-man or one-year advertisement. Our 56 page Catalog B of other styles free.”

Another ad, published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on Jan. 11, 1925 read, “Fastest selling advertising thermometer calendar combination, 17c, metal back, three colors, uncond. guarantee, money making sideline. Newton Mfg. Co., Dept 17, Newton, Ia.”

This firm was founded in 1909.

From 1940 to the early 1970s, a dominant manufacturer was the Pam Clock Company, which produced advertising thermometers and clocks for large firms, and epitomized the industry. Coca-Cola and RC Cola were among thousands of organizations that appointed the firm to illuminate their image.

“Go For Bunny Bread” and “Ask For Valvoline Motor Oil” are two classic examples of round Pam thermometers, which consists of a 14” aluminum housing with domed-glass crystal.

The analog dial would be customized by logos or slogans.

Along the lines of the Pam Clock, the thermometer was backlit with super bright LED lamps.

Forest Hills and Rego Park shops earned their spot in the advertising thermometer field.

These collectibles that were distributed at local businesses are hard to find nowadays.

Continental Wine & Liquor Store, Forest Hills.

One example features “Continental Wine and Liquor Store,” which was located at 107-18 Continental Avenue and notes “Next to Forest Hills Theatre” in a nameplate accompanied by Art Deco detail.

It also ensures prompt deliveries and features a vintage phone number with a prefix: BOulevard 8-8865/8866.

The backing is wood and it features a carved frame that supports a colored mirrored surface.

The charming imagery consists of a woman sitting with her cat in front of a fireplace, and above the mantel are two candlesticks alongside a built-in thermometer. The manufacturer likely felt that this relaxing scene would complement any home’s décor while drawing one’s eye to the business.

Sometimes advertising thermometers tell a story that extends beyond a business, as in the case of the rare “Tilden Dairy and Delicatessen” collectible. This cherished business was located at 73-06 Austin Street and reads, “Everything from soup to nuts.”

Tilden Dairy & Delicatessen at Tilden Arms, Forest Hills.

Besides a thermometer, a three-minute sand glass was attached, which came in handy in the kitchen.

It dates to the time when Austin Street was nicknamed “The Village.”

This business was named after Tilden Arms at 73-20 Austin Street, a Georgian Colonial apartment building, completed in 1931.

It takes an advertising thermometer to inspire further research, where one learns that it was named after “Big Bill” Tilden, who won the U.S. National Championships, with wins in Forest Hills in 1920, 1924, 1925 and 1929. That included the first year at Forest Hills Stadium.

He holds a record for the most men’s singles titles and was the first American to win Wimbledon in 1920.

Advertising thermometers are bound to come in unique shapes. A classic example is a supersized ornate brass key that supports a thermometer.

It reads “1939 World’s Fair” and embossed on top is a depiction of the Fair’s symbolic Trylon and Perisphere monuments, which reflects the multicultural and innovative “World of Tomorrow” theme and could also be found at the Trylon Theater, on stationery, on cakes and on other forms of advertising countrywide.

1939 World’s Fair key thermometer with Trylon & Perisphere monuments on top.

Continuing the innovative theme, along with “Peace Through Understanding” is a 1964-1965 World’s Fair thermometer, which featured an embossed brass Unisphere, mounted on wood.

1964 – 1965 World’s Fair advertising thermometer.

Some advertising thermometers take the viewer to the great outdoors, as in the case of the circa 1940s “Lawrence Brown Prime Meat Market” thermometer, which features a watercolor-inspired scene of a Tudor cottage and a lush garden overlooking a lake with ducks.

This neighborly business was situated at 92-07 63rd Drive in Rego Park and memorializes the vintage prefix phone number found in HAvemeyer 4-0850.

The frame features unique Art Deco motifs.

In the 1950s, it became “Consumers Meat Market,” which longtime and former residents recall more so, but that too is long-gone.

“I enjoy looking at the wide variety of these thermometers available on the second-hand market,” said David Barnett, co-founder of Noble Signs and the New York Sign Museum.

“They showcase many styles of design and lettering. Some were distributed to shops and others as keepsakes directly to consumers. The practical value of a thermometer in a pre-digital age helped increase the likelihood that the advertisement would be saved instead of discarded.”

Now if you are not a collector, perhaps the foundation for an intriguing journey is about to begin

High Line-esque linear park to come to Queens

Opposition says QueensWay is not the way

By Jessica Meditz

[email protected]

Eric Adams paid a visit to Forest Hills for the announcement.

After over a decade of advocacy, the QueensWay is slated to make its way into Queens.

The city plans to spend $35 million to begin phase one of construction for a linear park along 3.5 miles of abandoned railroad tracks that run through Central and Southern Queens, Mayor Eric Adams announced last Friday.

Adams and other elected officials gathered on Trotting Course Lane in Forest Hills, just where the Metropolitan Hub, a portion of the QueensWay will be situated, to make the announcement.

QueensWay will be built along the former Rockaway Beach Branch line, which has not been utilized in more than 60 years. Once completed, the project will connect the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, and provide a 47-acre park and seven miles of greenway.

“Phase one will convert abandoned railroad tracks which have been used as a dumping ground into a five-acre linear park and provide a safe way for residents to walk, jog or to enjoy the open space. We’ve learned during COVID-19 how important it is to have good quality open space, and it can’t be just in one part of the city…This park is going to be the center of the lives in this community,” Adams said.

Along with benefitting physical and mental health, Adams cited air quality improvement, increased visibility for small businesses, creativity and better accessibility to public transportation as upsides to the park’s development.

He added that linear parks have proven to be successful, as seen by the Highline on the west side of Manhattan.

“We can have High Line and High Times in the outer boroughs as well, and that is why we’re bringing [QueensWay] to this amazing community here in Queens,” Adams said.

“Because of the density of our city, linear parks penetrate deep into neighborhoods, and don’t just focus on one particular area, allowing us to go further in open space. It allows eyesores like what’s behind us to go from an eyesore to an oasis.”

Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, who represents the neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill in District 29, has been a key force in getting QueensWay off the ground — advocating for the project since her days at Community Board 6.

“I can’t believe that we’re here today…We are facing a once in a civilization public health challenge to save our planet from destruction within, and today’s investment by Mayor Adams in a linear park right here in Forest Hills, Queens is a huge step and meeting this challenge,” Schulman said.

“It was 10 years ago that two friends and constituents…brought me their dream of creating a linear park where our kids could play, seniors could exercise and get fresh air and bicyclists could have safe bike paths. There were many obstacles to overcome, but I was determined when I took office in January that I would bring this extraordinary vision to fruition,” she continued. “The QueensWay will now become a reality.”

Approximately 322,000 people live within a mile radius of the QueensWay.

The proposed project would connect residents to 10 bus lines and four subway stations.

In addition, there are 12 schools within a five-minute walk of the QueensWay and two Little League field complexes directly adjoining it.

A map of the proposed QueensWay.

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar expressed her support for the plan, as she represents District 38’s neighborhoods of Glendale, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, and Woodhaven.

“This is a great day for my district. It’s a great day for South Queens,” she said. “QueensWay will draw 1 million visitors every year. It will generate $2.2 million in new revenue…also, all the major thoroughfares in my district will be connected to QueensWay. That includes Rockaway Boulevard, 101st Avenue, Jamaica Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. This is extremely exciting for my district.”

The announcement was met with some criticism and slight heckling from advocates of the QueensLink, a proposed 3.5-mile long transit and park corridor in the same space, which would connect northern and southern Queens.

The plan calls for both transit and park space in the community, and puts forth the argument that building only the park would “block any future use of transit on the line and deprive Southern Queens residents of a faster commute and less traffic while reducing pollution and carbon emissions.”

“We can have both, but if they design the park first without knowing where the train’s going to be, they might have to tear up the park to put in the train later. It makes no sense,” Miriam Bensman, senior adviser at QueensLink, said.

“They’re talking about transit, but they’re not doing anything about it. So the key is, if you really do care about public transit, and it’s not just a campaign slogan, then you need to take it seriously and study the integration of a Transit Link, which would be a subway and a park,” Rick Horan, executive director of QueensLink, said.

“Our goal is to try to see if there’s enough value in this project to get it there. But the only way we can do that is to study it,” he continued. “So we’ve been promoting an Environmental Impact Statement for QueensLink, which includes rail entry.”

QueensLink penned a letter to both Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul last month in support of an EIS for the project.

Fifteen local elected officials signed off on the letter, including Rajkumar, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Assemblyman David Weprin — who were all present at Friday’s announcement.

Rajkumar told The Queens Ledger that she is still in support of the QueensLink, and that both plans are needed for residents of Queens.

“Together, these plans both create green space and meet our transit needs. Constructing the QueensWay while also reactivating the rail line to create the QueensLink is perfectly feasible,” she said.

“Rail service combined with greenway, known as ‘rails-with-trails,’ is incredibly common: there are 343 rails-with-trails in the United States alone, with a combined length of almost 1,000 miles,” she continued. “In fact, building the QueensLink along the QueensWay would be very similar to plans to add rail service to Atlanta’s BeltLine elevated park. I continue to support an Environmental Impact Statement on the QueensLink, which would fill our transit desert with a vital north-south Subway corridor.”

Legendary Midway Theatre turns 80

A milestone at a Golden Age theater

Midway Theatre, today

By Michael Perlman

[email protected]

It is not too often that patrons can take their children to the theater where their great-grandparents had their first date or saw a “who’s who” of actors in Classical Hollywood Cinema.

Those memories come alive at the historic Midway Theatre at 108-22 Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, an Art Moderne community-recognized landmark.

Patrons can say “Happy 80th Birthday, Midway!” which debuted with a gala opening on Sept. 24, 1942, earning it the status of one of Queens’ longest continuously operating theaters.

Midway Theatre upon completion in 1942.

The theater was named after achieving an American victory in the Pacific island outpost during WWII’s Battle of Midway.

Opening attractions were the U.S. Navy’s Technicolor short subject, “The Battle of Midway,” as well as “The Pied Piper” and “Just Off Broadway.”

A long-list of the theater’s other classic films include “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” “Casablanca,” “Pride of the Marines,” “Help!,” “West Side Story” and “Saturday Night Fever.”

Films further came to life with celebrity visits including Bob Hope and Lucille Ball, who conducted a meet and greet.

The “MIDWAY” vertical beacon and marquee offers a lighting spectacular along Queens Boulevard.

Also of distinction is a streamlined accordion-style and curved corner façade, and a whimsical circular lobby with a 30-foot ceiling with domes and a sweeping staircase leading to a picture window.

Architect Thomas White Lamb, Courtesy of great-grandson Tom Andrew Lamb.

The Midway was designed by America’s foremost theater architect, Scotland native Thomas White Lamb (1871 – 1942), along with consulting architect S. Charles Lee.

“Intimate Facts About Myself,” a whimsical cartoon-illustrated pamphlet introduced patrons to the theater in 1942. It read, “I am what you call modernistic – with all the newest wrinkles and latest gadgets. Here and now I want to give thanks to the late Thomas Lamb, one of the greatest theatrical architects. In me, his last theatre, you will find the best example of his genius.”

Offering insight to novelties, it read, “You, the patrons of the Midway will vote for the outstanding star each year. His or her picture will then be placed in especially designed panels in the Hall of Fame, which are located in each side of the auditorium.”

It continued, “A thing of beauty and a joy forever… that’s me all over!”… “Harold Rambusch, famous interior decorator surpassed himself designing my color scheme and it’s something ‘out of this world.’ You will admire my stepped ceiling, with the cleverly concealed indirect flood lights and those unusual lighting fixtures on the side walls.”

Today, Regal UA Cinemas’ Midway Theatre is a go-to destination for first-run films, but was also known for its Walt Disney cartoons and up-to-the-minute news.

Midway Theatre grand opening, auditorium, 1942. Photo courtesy of Dallasmovietheaters under a Creative Commons license.

Historically, operations shifted from RKO to Skouras to United Artists. It also transitioned from a single screen to a quad to nine screens, and in more recent times, digital advances and recliners were introduced.

One of the earliest Forest Hills patrons, Richard Delaney, who now resides in Cary, N.C., said, “I was six when the Midway opened, and my mom told me what a major event it was. It was a formal affair, with klieg lights on Queens Boulevard. Some celebrities were present.”

The Midway was an attraction upon entering. He said, “The ticket booth had a curved front and on top of the glass in gold was a map of Midway Island and surrounding islands. There was a long passageway with four wooden railings: two for people entering to see a film and two for exiting. There was quite a line of people waiting. Those were the days of double features. After you had your ticket torn in half, you entered a beautiful Art Deco lobby with a curved staircase to the mezzanine. Either side of the candy and popcorn counter were entrances into the main auditorium.”

He recalled a series of circular lights in the auditorium. “They had black backgrounds, but in the center were figures of dancing ladies. A glow would come from the circle surrounding the figures.”

Midway Theatre Art Deco Auditorium angular view.

There were uniformed ushers and usherettes who would accompany guests to their seat with a flashlight, if the film was already on, according to Delaney.

Additionally, he can still sense the matron walking up and down the aisles, ensuring that everyone behaved.

If not, he recalled, “She would have you come out of your seat and you would be asked to leave.”

On Saturdays in the 1940s, beginning at 10 a.m., a children’s show often spanned four hours.

“They would have a double feature, 10 cartoons and sometimes 10 to 15-minute serials, with one to two chapters each week, leaving you hanging in suspense. Sometimes they would show ‘Dick Tracy,’ ‘Flash Gordon,’ ‘Roy Rogers’ and ‘Gene Autry.’ Some would go for 20 chapters.”

Delaney also saw many films during the heyday of the Hollywood Studios system.

With his mother, he would see Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Ann Sheridan on the big screen.

Usually on a Friday night, there was a request for contributions to various charitable organizations, such as March of Dimes.

“The manager would make an announcement on the stage and ushers would pass canisters up each aisle for people to deposit a contribution,” he said. “They also sold war bonds or war saving stamps.”

Delaney is hopeful for a belated Midway extravaganza. “You can have a big 80th birthday cake in the lobby with a Saturday evening feature. It’s an iconic theater, so you can have a plane fly over Forest Hills with ‘Happy 80th Birthday Midway Theatre’ written in the sky.”

Local 306 projectionist Fred Hadley, formerly of Forest Hills, now lives in Boca Raton, Fla.

He reminisced, “I worked as a union projectionist in 1972 at the then-single screen Midway, which we salute on its 80th anniversary. I remember showing ‘Cabaret’ to full 2,000-seat houses. In those days, movies were projected using 20-minute reels of 35 mm film. The multiplex concept was just beginning.”

Forest Hills resident Patty Bugland believes that additional original art moderne features exist, such as above dropped ceilings in the auditoriums and the outer lobby.

“It was great to go with friends and wait for the lights to dim and the planetarium ceiling lights to twinkle. I always looked for Midway Island. This was the original ceiling of the whole theater when it was a single screen. It featured a map of the world and the constellations. This was as fascinating to me as the movies,” Bugland said.

She would attend every Disney animation and musical, including “South Pacific” and “West Side Story” and historical costume epics, such as “The Ten Commandments” and “How the West Was Won.”

Bugland continued, “Often, there was a double feature with that phrase, ‘Selected Short Subjects,’ which meant the forerunner of music videos or a very short comedy film, a short documentary or several cartoons. A video I remember most vividly was Ray Charles and The Raelettes performing ‘Hit the Road Jack.’”    

Midway Theatre lobby before approaching the grand lobby, 1942 Photo courtesy of Dallasmovietheaters under a Creative Commons license.

Another resident, David Gelman, said, “As with many of the classic buildings that are protected, I would be sad to see the Midway coming to end if it’s not preserved. It’s a quintessential part of Forest Hills.”

He recalls seeing classics such as “Goldfinger” and “Mary Poppins,” as well as waiting on a long line to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Westchester resident Barry Werbin takes pride in how grand and huge the Midway is.

“In my days growing up in Forest Hills, there were no multiplex theaters locally. The Midway is an architectural gem worth landmarking. Just look at what happened to the Forest Hills Theatre where I have other memories. I feel thankful I got to come of age in such a special place,” he said.

“Preserving the beautiful art moderne architecture of the mid-20th century is important, since this is a period when New York City was still becoming a world-recognized center of art and culture, and the many periods that represent this evolution are disappearing in many neighborhoods,” said Forest Hills native Jackie Fishman.

She would like to see an 80th birthday celebration conceived as “a star-studded, old-fashioned, elegant event complete with showings of movies from 1942.”

Original Art Deco ticket booth, 1942 grand opening Photo courtesy of Dallasmovietheaters under a Creative Commons license.

“It would be fun to turn this into a week-long event that is open to everyone, with the opening day and night as an invitational party, and the proceeds could benefit a local preservation effort,” she said.

“The Midway seemed like a mini Radio City Music Hall,” said Denise De Maria of Forest Hills.

As a child, she attended a spin-off of the popular “McHale’s Navy” sitcom.

“Several cast members came up on stage afterwards, shook hands and gave out autographed pictures. Co-star Tim Conway was there and I got a picture. I was thrilled to meet a friendly celebrity, who became so well-known for decades,” she said.

Virginia resident Alison Turnbull Schoew, who was raised in Sutton Hall in Forest Hills, remembers the matrons and ice cream bonbons in little white boxes, but her truly special memory is attending the children’s matinee of “Big Red” in 1962.

She said, “The movie was the story of a lovely Irish Setter and her hijinks. After the film, a kind dad brought his own Irish Setter to the Midway and all of us got to pet it. I was too young to know that I wasn’t patting the star of the movie, and I carefully protected my petting hand from the rain all the way home.”

Marla Duffy-Eng, who was raised in Forest Hills, recalls promotional giveaways, as in the case of a plastic seat belt for Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

Additionally, she said, “I remember special signage for big movies like ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ and ‘My Fair Lady.’ For ‘Cleopatra,’ the studio created a special marquee with giant letters in red and black.”

Forest Hills resident Amanda Killian said, “The Midway was the go-to for the big openings.”

Fast-forwarding to summer 1996, she had several teen friends who were employed at the Midway.

“I was invited into the projector room watching my friends load the reels and then watching the movies from a different vantage point. I would help them clean the theaters after, so that the staff and their friends could have private showings with unlimited popcorn.” For a celebration, she said, “It would be nice to see time capsule style photos of the Midway. You would really be able to see the evolution of the neighborhood.”

Her husband, J.P. Killian said, “I remember back in 1989, when I was excited to see ‘Batman’ with Michael Keaton, and so was the rest of my fifth-grade class. As years have gone by, I’ve seen countless blockbusters from ‘Training Day,’ ‘Fast and Furious’ movies and ‘Die Hard.’”

He also embraces preservation.

“I love the fact that the Midway is still around and people are still watching blockbuster hits on the big screen. For a celebration, it would be great if the Midway had an eighty-cent movie deal for a day,” he said.

“It is a shame other theaters in the area have not fared well, but I hope as the Midway turns 80, we as a community can keep it alive.”

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