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Two Restaurants Get Chilly Reception Over Sidewalk Seating Plans

tru cafe

April 22, 2016 By Michael Florio

More outdoor cafes are slated to spring up on Astoria’s sidewalks, but not without resistance from some local residents.

Seven restaurants went before Community Board 1 seeking a recommendation for sidewalk café licenses Tuesday, two of which received harsh criticism from neighbors.

One establishment that Astorians spoke out against was Tru Café, a Mediterranean bar/restaurant located at 35-19 Ditmars Blvd., which was applying to renew its license for 26 tables and 54 chairs.

The Board received two letters of complaint about this restaurant. Complaints included double parked cars along 36th Street, blocked driveways, littering, “biker gangs” and loud music, as well as drunk customers vomiting and urinating on the lawns.

“In our 25 years this establishment has been by far the worse we have seen,” one longtime 36th Street resident wrote. “We never know what we will need to clean up upon waking up in the morning.”

The owners said they were surprised by these complaints.

Upon receipt of the letters, the Board asked Tru Café’s owners to sign a stipulation to their license, stating that they would station an employee outside the restaurant from midnight until closing to keep tabs on their customers. The owners consented.

The Board then voted in favor of the license renewal 24 to 10.

However, not all the applicants were as fortunate.

Beija Flor, a Brazilian restaurant/bar located at 38-02 29th St., approached the board with its application for a 13-table, 26-seat outdoor café.

Owner Lucia Cruz said the bar, which is open from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. during the week, and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, had not received any complaints from neighbors.

However, multiple residents spoke out against the establishment and said they did not want Cruz to have sidewalk seating.

Complaints included noise, fights and drug use outside of the bar, as well as the bar staying open until 4 a.m.

“There are drunk people making noise and fighting in the streets,” one resident who lives near the establishment said. “No one is sleeping.”

“Marijuana smoke always goes up into the windows,” another resident said.

“I am so surprised,” Cruz said. “I have great reviews and never heard these complaints before.”

Detective Edwin Negron of the 114 Precinct said that the precinct has not received any complaints concerning the establishment.

However, based on the outcry from residents, the Board unanimously voted against Beija Flor’s application.

Despite the Board’s decision, Cruz told the Astoria Post that she plans to move forward with her application. The Board’s vote is sent to the Department of Consumer Affairs, which ultimately decides on outdoor café licenses.

Several businesses received new licenses without an issue.

Mokja, a Korean restaurant located at 35-19 Broadway, gained the Board’s support for a nine-table, 18-seat cafe. The restaurant will be open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The outdoor café will run along 36th Street, according to the shop owner.

Mussles N Sausages, which recently opened at 35-01 Ditmars Blvd., requested a license to set up 20 tables and 40 chairs. Four of those tables and eight seats will be located on the Ditmars Boulevard side, with the remaining 16 tables and 32 chairs going along 35th Street.

The Board voted unanimously to approve this application, as long as the owner will sign a stipulation that he will remove one table and two seats from the Ditmars Boulevard side.

Others, such as 60 Beans (six tables, 12 chairs), Martha’s Bakery (18 tables, 36 chairs) and La Pequena Colombia (four tables, 16 chairs) all renewed their outdoor seating café licenses.

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46 Comments

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Zorbo

Thanks for driving property values up. I could give a $h$t how much noise is made I’m just waiting for my day to cash out. For now I’ll sit back and collect my continuing rising rent from the bearded ones.

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Its_Now_GayStoria

These outdoor seatings only attract Queer Cruising after midnight. NOT GOOD.

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ivan beacco

ahahhahahah Queer Cruising…….who talks like that? oh, sorry, didn’t see your username right away…..

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If you don't enjoy

The sites and smells of city living- perhaps it’s time to consider country life? And the manure smell might be people fertilizing their lawns and gardens.

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George

i agree its been smelling like horse manure lately because of DEP but they don’t look into important things only bullshit!!

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mounopano

Oh yea like who doesn’t love the smell of horse sh*t, weed, car and plane pollution, the site of the ConEd plant fuming the sky line with fumes and dirt, the sounds of the MTA and Amtrack, i could go on but I would run out of space. “And I think to myself what a wonderful world…”

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yuck

I don’t know how people can sit outside, eat and deal with that sewer smell in the Ditmars area. It was so strong today.

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George

Yea that smell is pretty bad i think they should complain about things like this to DEP and never mind the BS they complain about,its smelled like horse manure

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yota

I agree. It is getting worse each year. I guess the direction of the wind is pushing the smell even further into the ditmars area. I can even smell it on 23rd avenue. Some days i can not open my windows because of the harsh smell and i live on 38the street and ditmars which is far from Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant. It does indeed smell like horse manure and I wish more people would take the time and call about this issue.

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betty

I think alcohol should be banned from the outdoor seating area of a business establishment. The same way smoking is not allowed. And the same way you are not allowed to drink alcohol in front of your house. This would solve some of these issues.

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viky

These disturbances are only getting worse with all these new places popping up every month and trying to open outdoor seating. I think it is all about who you know when it comes to getting approved.

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ilk

What? Restaurants/Bars that are open until dawn are causing disturbances with local residents in Astoria? Lies! Lies I say! (insert eye rolling here).

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ben

By “biker gangs” I believe the person might be referring to a group of what appear to me like middle aged men who ride Harley Davidson bikes and frequent Tru on Ditmars. I pass by that area daily and have seen them. To me, they look harmless but may cause some noise on the block while looking for parking (like many vehicles and delivery trucks in the area). Thirty sixth Street is a nice block however it is located right by Ditmars in the middle of everything and noise, late night talking or shouting etc. is bound to happen.

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Ben Dover

By biker gangs they mean 4 middle aged greek losers that have gotten kicked out of every cafe in astoria because they all order an American coffee for 2 bucks and sit there for 4 hours. I’m sorry let me correct myself, 3 losers. One of them actually has high mileage on his harley and rides all year round. A true biker, not like the other idiots

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George

Only 1 drinks american coffee and sits fir refills for 4 hours u dweeb,why dont u come forward and show who u really are??talking shit behind the screen

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tito

Ditmars between 29 street and Steinway is so noisy and a mess and not the place for those seeking peace. It is full of vehicle and pedestrian traffic especially during warm weather and the weekends.

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The "Wannabee Biker Gang " :(

The “Old Hag” on 36 st. that complains ALL THE TIME is a few cents short of a dollar n the whole block knows it !
Even with Fed Ex n UPS trucks that block her driveway to deliver packages for few minutes…cause they can’t block the bike lane stupidity !!
…n do you know what a biker gang looks like “Dumb Ass” ? …or are the batteries running low in your rabbit n you’re getting hot flashes ?
If you don’t like a vibrant neighborhood move to Creedmore or the Catskills
…n by the way the success of these cafes are raising the price of your $hit Hole…Now do us all a favor n GIT some DURACELLS !!

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Moriarity

I’ve been going to Astoria for over 50 years. Know residents and many owners, there is a problem. People deserve quality of life especially if this is there home. By the way I’ve been in the restaurant, bar and nightclub business and some NOT all of these places should be shut down. You’re either 14, a recent transplant or a hipster douche bag if you insult RESIDENTS, they have rights. Judging by your nasty disposition and entitled attitude I’m sure you’ll make some insulting or threatening comment to me, but guess what you are an insignificant asswipe of a proto human!!!

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j

Astoria has never been a shithole and maybe vistors should have respect for familes and people that have lived here for 50 years.

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tom

It is not against the law to smoke outside. No one can stop you from leaving the seated area of a restaurant and smoking on the sidewalk or in front of someones house! If you do not like it then close your windows.

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Ellen

Sadly it is time to leave Astoria. This is a disgrace that these restaurants would violate basic human decency. Some on these homeowners are elderly. I am disgusted with these establishments and with the board for approving….I say call the 114th Precinct every day and make sure your complaint is on the record….Then hire a lawyer and get some cash out of these greedy owners and so called politicians!

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Steve

If it wasn’t for all these restaurants all these old Greek uneducated fucks wouldn’t have a shitty hole in the wall worth over $1m. Now they are complaining. By the way I’m Greek. Enough already! Most of them have millions of dollars and miserable and complain all day long. Relax already

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tom

People have every right to discuss and have their concerns voiced to the proper authorities no matter what their home market value is. That is what Boards and yearly reviews are for. The same way renters and homeowners must oblige by laws and quality of life issues so should business establishments.

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kyle

Homeowners are not the only ones complaining many renters do also. As a renter, I have called 311 numerous times because of, for example, late night disturbances or annoyances that need to be looked into/stopped.

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ok

Well you see it that way. However, let us not forget that many people came to Astoria because of its proximity to the city by train, diversity, and most importantly overall quality of life (safety, peace, etc.) which many homeowners can be given credit for before this now bigger food/bar/out door seating trend. To say it is only because of “restaurants” that home values and rental profits in Astoria have reached high numbers is ridiculous.

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Anonymous visitor

Young working people gravitate to the neighborhood because of the proximity to Manhattan where they increasingly work (and millennials appreciate the diversity of food that has always existed). Elderly and families move out as demand, and subsequently rents rise. Many more restaurants open to support this growing young base (who don’t cook and go out and drink in the evenings). Neighborhood is changing… deal with it. There is no amendment in the constitution that says neighborhoods must remain exactly as they always are.

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Michael Boylan

Lets make all pedestrians walk in single file or in street so all these establishments can take over the sidewalk. OK with CB#1?

Ellen

Steve, you can relax. These outdoor seating areas are awful and make living here awful. And guess what I am Greek too! I do not need your sour comments. Have a nice day.

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L Jenn

Frankly, the precinct probably has more important things to do. Unless its an emergency file your complaints on the city’s website.

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tiger

Oh yea they are too busy cracking down on scooter delivery guys. Complaints are monitored and recorded whether through the phone or internet. More people should get involved and use 311 or http://www1.nyc.gov/311/

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HappyAstorian

I am so glad I live in Upper Ditmars! Things may change but so far it so much better than the rest of Astoria if you are looking for peace and a place to raise a family.

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Pete

What would the damages be that the lawyer seek monetary damages for?

You would have to prove something like, the car that blocked the driveway was the direct result of the restaurant which then prevented an ambulance from getting to a person who died but would have otherwise lived if it wasn’t for the blocked driveway.

Does anyone have such a claim?

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corey

Actually if you follow disabilities circles. The damage/danger/exclusion is daily, accumulative and real. ESPECIALLY when the cafe BLOCKS the sidewalk itself.

Forcing people with mobility and other impairments to take lengthily detours across intersections or into the street, treacherous to anyone with sensory or mobility difficulty, endangering their lives further, where there would be less or no danger, if the sidewalk was never blocked to begin with.

This is a MAJOR problem for any cafe that do not have physical bolted down barriers that separate the diners from the pedestrians.

Most sidewalk cafes, where I live during business hours, become COMPLETELY blocked on repeated many times on daily basis, especially when the server comes out with a tray. Or when customers move chairs and tables.

They do it on purpose, to discourage the public, from using the sidewalk, so they don’t have to deal with strangers walking so close to their food and clientele.

I have personally witnessed people with disabilities on 6 different occasions in last 2 years, being forced to turn around go back the way they came, and I do not get out much.

I have personally repeatedly have had to wait until clientele or waitress move to make a single file opening not even shoulders wide(about 2- 2 1/2 ft. Where the regulations are 5ft must be maintained for public pedestrians at all time.

I personally have repeatedly told these very businesses that they need to move their furniture and that they have caused people with disabilities to take long detours who already have difficulty getting around. They do not do anything because they are so desperate and greedy, I am forced to report it to the city, who then sends letters to these businesses and they STILL do not comply.

I have personally repeatedly have moved signs and chairs and tables and planter to take back the pedestrian legal right away.

my feeling is if it can not be physically separated with a unmovable barrier, then NO sidewalk cafe. Especially on sidewalks that were never designed for cafe to begin with. Like where I live.

Believe me its really bad from a persons with disabilities perspective but you don’t hear from us because we deal with so much discrimination and denial of participation, and so tired of our voices not being heard we just bottle it up. Just because there is no public record of complaint does NOT mean many people in community do not have problems.

By the way most of the non-walled sidewalk cafes in the USA, when in use, violate the Americans with disability act of 1990 equal access and participation. For people with disabilities that are trying to get from point A to B. Due to encroachment and direct use by business employees and patrons. Two scooters/wheelchairs/power chairs must be able to pass each other at walking speeds, thus the 5ft minimum.

last Saturday I was threatened severe bodily harm by an employee or possibly the owner, For telling them, they had to move the two barricades they made with their tables and chairs to prevent pedestrians from even using the sidewalk, illegally in violation of city , state, federal and the ADA of 1990.

I had to call the non emergency police number, to have them go over and document the barricades and tell them they need to keep the sidewalk accessible to the public. The police sent the file to the department that deals with permits and fines.

There is also a disability housing building 1 block from this business on the same side.

There is a possibility that this particular bar/pub may or may not lose their sidewalk cafe permit, due to past complaints and mine. Especially considering the threat to do harm to a member of the public, that was trying to exercise their right to the use of the public sidewalk that was illegally barricaded by the business.

many of us with disabilities have learned that in many cases people without disabilities, won’t take us seriously, when we have issues of access and participation, because those we talk to for help just can not comprehend our struggles and the severe impact of exclusion/discrimination.

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