April 27, 2015 By Michael Florio
The owner of a 30th Avenue restaurant with plans to open a large outdoor café met fierce opposition from nearby residents at last week’s Community Board 1 meeting.
George Sorotos, the owner of Piatsa Souvlaki, a Greek restaurant that opened at 36-02 30th, Avenue earlier this year, went before the board to get approval for a sidewalk café with 36 tables and 70 seats.
Sorotos sought to place a significant number of the tables and chairs on the 36th Street side of the restaurant.
Nearby residents, who turned out in numbers, had a litany of complaints and Sorotos decided to postpone his application until next month’s board meeting.
The residents at the meeting claimed that there was little need for Sorotos to set up so many outdoor seats—arguing that the restaurant is often empty.
Phil Rovere, a long-time Astoria resident, said he did not see the need for this many tables, claiming he had never seen more than a few tables inside the 50-seat restaurant being occupied.
He said that an outdoor café of this size would also lead to garbage being strewn all over the lawns and tree pits along 36th Street.
Rovere was not the only resident concerned about the trash, since the residents said that all that separates the adjacent houses from the restaurant on 36th Street is a small alleyway.
Helen Maloney, another resident, said that she had never seen more than five people in the restaurant at any given time. She, too, was concerned that the houses on 36th Street would become a dump for the café.
The restaurant is currently open until 11 pm Sunday through Thursday and 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights. However, the outdoor seating café would close at midnight.
Patrick Comaskey, another concerned resident, said that an outdoor café open until midnight would attract a late-night crowd, which would lead to cars being driven down the residential street at all hours of the night.
Comaskey added that a lot of senior citizens live in the area and the added noise would keep the residents of 36th Street up late at night.
However, not every resident who spoke at the meeting was opposed to the request. One resident, who declined to give his name, said that he had not witnessed any trash coming from the restaurant at this point and that he likes the food.
Another Astoria resident said that he was excited after learning about the potential outdoor café. He claimed that it would increase property values, create new jobs, and would attract more people to the neighborhood.
The board said that it had additional letters from residents opposing the request.
However, before the letters were read, Sorotos approached the board and said he wanted to table the request until next month’s board meeting, with the hopes of working with the neighbors on a different design.
“I want to work with the residents on a plan that benefits both the neighbors and us,” he said.