Friday, August 10, 2012
How many is too many?
From DNA Info:
Dozens of sidewalk cafes dot the streets of Astoria these days, attracting locals and visitors from around the city.
But while the crowds enjoy sipping their coffee and eating food al fresco, some residents say their increasing numbers are hard to swallow.
Outdoor seating started arriving in the area about two decades ago, but in recent years they have been popping up in increasing numbers, especially on 30th Avenue.
More than 20 of the 53 outdoor cafes in the neighborhood — the majority of the 88 in Queens — are located on the stretch, which has a variety of Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Greek and Italian restaurants.
Loizos Loizon, the owner of Avenue Cafe on 30th Avenue, said they have become an integral part of the neighborhood, where many residents are of European descent and the outdoor setting reminds them of home.
“Back in Europe, people like to sit outside and look at the sea or nature,” said Loizon, who came to the U.S. from Cyprus. “Here, we look at the streets, but it is better than nothing.”
But some residents say the al fresco dining scene is giving them agita.
When Patricia Schrader, a teacher and Astoria resident for 25 years, walks home from work along 30th Avenue, she says she has to slalom between various obstacles.
There have always been bus stops and street vendors there, she said, but in recent years a growing number of cafes have taken over a large portion of the sidewalk.
“It grows like a little tumor, they sprawled out all over,” said Schrader. “Sometimes the sidewalk isn’t wide enough.”
Moving around is especially difficult for people walking with a baby carriage or carrying bags. “Sometimes it’s difficult to pass through,” she said.