FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JULY 2, 2020 • THE QUEENS COURIER 3
Bayside’s Bell Boulevard bustles with life
as restaurants open for outdoor dining
BY DEAN MOSES
Bayside’s Bell Boulevard has always
been a bastion of life in the community
thanks to its bustling bars, restaurants
and street fairs. But due to the COVID-
19 pandemic, the last few months have
seen the thoroughfares end, leaving only
empty streets and eateries off ering takeout
and delivery, with other establishments
being closed outright.
It has been a diffi cult year for both
businesses and patrons alike, but the
methodical clouds could be lift ing for
the summer thanks to the advent of
phase two in New York’s reopening.
Although the sidewalks are a little more
muted and the roadways are
a little less dense with traffi
c, laughter and smiles
can once again be found
along the Bell Boulevard
strip as a semblance of
normalcy has returned
In accordance with
the phase two initiative,
bars can now serve
food and beverages
dining. Many in the
area have erected private
beneath the shade
of awnings and surrounded
dividers in order to help put diners at
ease while also giving them privacy.
With business back in eff ect, owners
have taken the opportunity to bring their
unique ambiance to the sidewalk, Chef
David Arias, creator of Spanglish NYC
(4004 Bell Blvd.), designed and decorated
wooden frames with an eye-catching
urban graffi ti style. Customers dine in
front of Spanglish NYC.
“We wanted to make something diff erent
to get everyone’s attention. It’s really
positive that everybody is now outside.
Everybody is trying to get life back
again, so we tried to be very creative
in the things that we did. We are trying
to do everything better for our customers.
We get a lot of support from
the neighbors. We are doing good now,”
said Charlotte Zubieta, Arias’ mother.
Charlotte Zubieta, mother of Spanglish
NYC creator and chef David Arias.
Others like Maria’s Mediterranean
(38-11 Bell Blvd.) dressed its setup
with vibrant, potted plants that hang
from 18th-century-esque electric
lamps. Although it may not seem like
it from the tables filled with individuals
enjoying their meals, it was a long,
hard road for owner Maria Petridis to
reach this point.
“We are excited to reopen. Th e pandemic
was a diffi cult experience because
we did not off er takeout service before.
We are not a takeout place, so we had
to transition to do that. We worked with
only me, my husband, and one other
person. We tried hard to try to survive
and, thank God, we did it,” Petridis said.
Th e business owners themselves aren’t
the only ones excited about phase two.
Aft er long weeks quarantining and social
distancing, the ability to sit and eat in a
fresh setting can go a long way, even for
Bayside natives like Bruce and Melissa
Barnes, who were born and raised in the
“Th is is new for us, being on Bell
Boulevard eating outside by the storefront,
because most places have a rooftop
or courtyard. In Manhattan, outdoor
eating is a bit diff erent because of cars
and foot traffi c,” Bruce Barnes said while
enjoying cocktail shrimp beneath the
shade of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse (3940
Bell Blvd.). Bruce and Melissa Barnes
dine at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse.
“It’s fantastic to see all of the restaurants
open, I just hope we don’t get
a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. It’s
good to see that some of the small businesses
are making money again, and
hopefully they are able to survive,”
Melissa Barnes said. “It takes away
from a place when you see store
closures. When you drive by and
see so many places closed it is
With all the fanfare about
street dining, it is overlooked
by many that buildings with
the capacity to off er rooftop
services are now permitted
to do so (allowing
only 50 percent of its
capacity). Th is creates a
hybrid feeling between
outdoor and indoor eating,
reclaiming some much-needed normalcy
for everybody involved.
Cajun-themed bar and grill Bourbon
Street (40-12 Bell Blvd.) has reopened,
off ering both curbside and rooft op services.
To accommodate additional customers,
Bourbon Street fi led for permits
that allows them to use the parking
space in front of the restaurant to serve
customers. But with the expansion also
comes a lot of new challenges. Outdoor
dining at Bourbon Street in Bayside.
“We really have to just keep on top of
all of our guidelines and really refresh
ourselves each day and refresh all of the
staff as well, so we are retraining them as
well as retraining ourselves,” said manager
Dan Geoghan. “On top of that, it’s
also working into a new way of life. We
haven’t had an outdoor service like this
out front. We have our rooft op, which is
great, but now out front we are working
through our kitchen in limited space and
we are also doing construction.”
Due to employees’ concerns about
working during the coronavirus, keeping
a full staff has also been an issue.
“It’s a little trying right now. A lot of staff
members are worried about coming back
too early. It’s been hectic trying to fi nd the
staff . We are getting new staff in and trying
to train them and get them acclimated to
our way of doing business and catering to
everyone’s needs,” Geoghan added.
Even so, customers are happy to be out
and enjoy a meal with friends and family.
With terms like social distancing becoming
a life model as we head into our new
normal, the prospect of once again reentering
society to enjoy meals in the presence
of other human beings presents
“It’s so amazing. I was just saying to
the staff that I am so happy to just talk to
people and to interact because I’ve been
cooped up for so long and I feel like we
are all nicer to each other now because
it’s human interaction. Everyone is more
friendly than I’ve ever seen them,” one
Bourbon Street customer said while
soaking in the sun alongside a friend on
the restaurant’s rooft op garden.
“We are very happy to be out.”
Customers dine in front of Spanglish NYC.
Bruce and Melissa Barnes dine at Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse.
Photos by Dean Moses