Aug. 21, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Mysterious signs advertising fake businesses have been sprinkled up Ditmars Boulevard over the past several days.
The small, colorful signs have been seen stuck to vacant storefronts roughly between 31st and 37th Streets. They promote nonexistent events and businesses, from the relatively innocuous to the sensational.
Among the signs that the Astoria Post has observed were “coming soon” announcements for a Home Depot Housewares Store, Donald Trump campaign offices, an HIV needle exchange and a performance by the apparently fictional “Tony Kliftonopoulis.”
Regarding the campaign office announcement, a Trump campaign spokesperson said, “there is no truth to this.” The sign claims to have been paid for by the Donald Trump Exploratory Committee; the spokesperson said that committee dissolved as soon as Trump’s campaign began.
The Home Depot also refuted that a store is coming to Astoria. A spokesperson had never heard of a “Home Depot Housewares” store.
The Tony Kliftonopoulis concert claims to take place at Uncle George’s Annex, 33-17 Broadway, in October. Michael’s Restaurant sits at this address.
Uncle George’s Greek Tavern used to occupy 33-19 Broadway. Staff member Vasso Safaka said no such concert is scheduled at Michael’s.
An “Astoria Needle Exchange” sign does not refer to any existing agency or organization, and reads, “help stop the spread of diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis and Moosebumps.”
Salvatore Barretta is the manager at Alba’s Pizza, which owns the adjacent property where Home Depot signs were affixed.
Barretta described the signs as “silly” and “funny,” but added that it was frustrating to remove them.
According to Barretta, the signs were glued to the window and needed to be scraped off with a razor blade.
It is unclear who is making the signs, and whether they are all made by the same person or group.
“It’s commentary on something – we don’t quite know what,” Antonio Meloni, chair of Community Board 1’s public safety committee, said. “But it’s not the right way to do it because it does tend to give people the wrong ideas.”
Meloni said he had also seen signs claiming that a Burger King was coming to the old Okeanos restaurant, 35-02 Ditmars Blvd., which several other residents told the Astoria Post they had seen as well.
Burger King could not be reached for comment, but the signs have since been removed.
“In and of itself, it’s not a big deal,” Meloni said. However, he added, the apparent prank might have the negative effect of discouraging new tenants in vacant spots.
“It’s already hard enough to be a business owner, or business starter in this community, without having to worry about false advertising,” he said.
“It’s just strange that somebody would actually go out of their way to do that,” Barretta said.