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.”