June 7, 2019 By Shane O’Brien
Jolsons Wine & Liquors, which has been in Astoria for 85 years, has reopened on 23rd Avenue after closing down its 31st Street location eight months ago.
Eric Bernabo, the owner of Jolsons, said his new 26-20 23rd Ave. storefront is significantly smaller than his previous space but he believes he can service the community better that what he did before.
“We’re not at the biggest location like we were on 31st Street, we’re about a third of the size, but I think we’re cosier, more quaint, and we can be a bit more involved with the customers than we were before,” Bernabo said.
Jolsons moved a mere three blocks from 22-24 31st St. but the relocation has been riddled with delays.
“It took us five and a half months just to move the liquor license three blocks and ever since then it was construction and dealing with the Department of Buildings,” Bernabo said.
Bernado said that rapidly rising rents were what prompted his move. He said that it is very difficult for independent business owners to stay viable on 31st Street. Additionally, the MTA is repairing the Ditmars Boulevard train station, which has reduced pedestrian traffic.
“Rent doubled on us, and in conjunction with the partial closing of the Ditmars station on the weekends, it was a recipe for disaster. So, when your rent goes north of $30,000 a month and you’re losing half of your customers, you can’t stay in business.”
Bernado said that 31st Street has taken a turn for the worse.
“I think anybody who looks at 31st Street [knows] it’s a shell of what it once was. There are numerous stores that are out of business and the landlords up there are just looking for corporate tenants.”
Born and raised in Astoria for now 59 years I have seen our my neighborhood
and for better and worse.
It was a sight to see as when four decades ago Mom and Pop stores lined Ditmars Blvd
and 31st Streets.
On the corner of 29th Street and 31st Street we had Deutsche Meat market.
Next to La Guli was Carl’s Dairy, family owned deli.
Jacobi (Herman’s), a Mom and Pop food store where one can sit at a table and
enjoy a home made egg cream with your sandwich.
Kiddeland was next to Pizza Palace and after having a terrific ice from La Guli Pastry Shop the kids would go to Kiddieland.
Weber clothing was somewhere near where Chase Bank is today.Much better that our current TJ MAX. A wonderful gentleman name Harold owned the store.
I remember him well.
Frank’s Sporting Store and John’s Bargain Store. Heppt’s bakery on 23rd Avenue.
Bobbie’s Beat Music. Leonard’s Bakery, and although a chain Woolworths was a great place to shop.
I like Mom and Pop stores and I do not care much for the chain stores.
Nothing at TJ MAX that ABC Store (now gone) didn’t have.
The Mom and Pop shops provided our community a variety, a charm, a spice of life that
that I surely miss.
C’est La Vie!
O’Shea and Hoey, La Guli Pastry Shop, Pizza Palace, Bartunek, are 4 of the remaining business from the good ole’ days.
Ditmars is now just as chaotic, loud and dirty as Broadway and 30 Ave. The quiet, friendly and family oriented sense of community is gone.
The old neon Jolson sign was too cool and unique so they had to ruin it.
It’s not only the landlords, the Ditmars Blvd station repairs and the construction on 31st has driven away a lot of the foot traffic. The corporate tenants such as TJ Max and Taco Bell (which is taking over the old Jolson’s location) can ride out these storms. The independent businesses can’t.
Great even more drunks in the neighborhood will go hang out in the residential areas! As if that loud bar across the street was not enough. So tired of living here. Cant wait to sell to some developer.
It’s a legitimate small business. What, does your family never throw parties with wine and spirits? Remind me to never come over to your house.
I prefer shopping for beverages at Astoria Park Wine & Spirits which is on 24th Ave and 28th Street. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the store is very inviting and well-kept.
85 years and they didn’t buy the building? They should of owned half of Astoria by now.
You read my mind!
It’s disgusting what the greedy Landlords are doing, I hope/wish they price themselves right out of business!
They are making 31st Street and Steinway street a ghost town for stores.
Astoria is now well known for its dining atmosphere and night life which attracts many people from all over the city. Most new restaurants and bars that are taking over are packed in the Ditmars area. On the weekends people hardly have any space to walk on the sidewalk especially with all the outside dining. Its what customers want and what business people are willing to pay for a place around here. Its not all on the Landlords.