8 THE QUEENS COURIER • AUGUST 30, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Petition to rename Sunnyside playground for
fallen fi refi ghter gains thousands of signatures
BY JENNA BAGCAL
Just days aft er its inception, a local petition
Stick a fork in Elmhurst’s Outback Steakhouse: It’s done
BY ROBERT POZARYCKI
Th e “steakhouse from the land down
under” has gone under in Elmhurst.
Visitors to the Outback Steakhouse
at the Queens Place mall at 5 p.m. on
Monday aft ernoon, Aug. 27, found the
doors locked and a sign posted in the window
stating, “Th is location is now closed.”
Th e popular Australian-themed restaurant
chain, known for its discount steaks and
blooming onions, had been a fi xture at the
shopping center since 2001.
Th e restaurant is also no longer listed on
When contacted by QNS on Tuesday
morning, a restaurant representative confi
rmed that the Elmhurst location was
closed for good. Th e spokesperson claimed
that Queens Place’s managing company,
Cushman & Wakefi eld, had “other ideas
for the space” that necessitated the eatery’s
However, a spokesperson for Bloomin'
Brands, the Florida-based company
that owns the Outback chain, stated on
Wednesday that "the decision to close" the
Elmhurst location "was based solely on
business circumstances." Th e spokesperson
further indicated that the Elmhurst
restaurant representative's claim about the
shutdown was inaccurate.
Th e Outback Steakhouse is located on
the second fl oor of the circular, four-story
building, which originally opened in
1965 as a Macy’s department store. Aft er
Macy’s moved to the Queens Center mall
in 1994, it was replaced by Stern’s department
store, which ultimately dissolved a
few years later.
Forest City, Queens Place’s former managing
company, then converted the facility
into a four-story mall, with an anchor
tenant, Target, occupying the top two levels.
Electronics chain Best Buy and a
Mattress Firm store are located adjacent
to the now-closed Outback. Th ose stores
A Cushman & Wakefi eld spokesperson
acknowledged the Outback’s demise in a
statement to QNS on Tuesday aft ernoon.
“Queens Place is an extremely well-traffi
cked property in a very busy area of
Queens and is 94 percent leased,” the
spokesperson said. “We are currently looking
at a variety of options for the space to
create the best tenant mix for the center.”
Outback Steakhouse has one other Queens
location, at the Bay Terrace Shopping
Center on Bell Boulevard in Bayside. Th ere
are also Outback restaurants in the Gateway
Shopping Center in Brooklyn, on West
23rd Street in Manhattan and at Island
Park, Merrick and Westbury in neighboring
Although the chain remains popular,
a look at the Elmhurst Outback’s most
recent reviews on Yelp were far from
fl attering. A number of customers complained
of slow service even when the
restaurant wasn’t packed, or feeling completely
ignored by the staff .
Photo via Google Maps
The Outback Steakhouse at the Queens Place mall in Elmhurst has closed its doors.
to name a formerly private playground
aft er a Sunnyside fi refi ghter has
gained over 2,200 signatures.
Residents, with the support of local
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer have
put forth a proposal to name the former
Phipps Playground and nursery (50-02
39th Ave.) aft er local FDNY Lieutenant
Michael Davidson, who died while putting
out a fi ve-alarm fi re back in March.
Th e Friends of Michael Davidson Park
petition was spearheaded by Sunnyside
resident Eileen Connolly and written up
by another resident Jamie McShane. Th e
petition when live on Aug. 23 and had
an initial goal of 1,000 signatures, which
Connolly said was reached in 22 hours.
Th e petition will be submitted to Mayor
Bill de Blasio, NYC Parks Commissioner
Mitchell J. Silver and Queens Borough
Parks Commissioner Dorothy
Lewandowski for their consideration.
Connolly told QNS that she lived next
door to Davidson and his family when
she was a resident of the Phipps Houses
in the 1980s. She said that before Phipps
was in talks to become public parkland
in March, it was privately owned property
where her two children and Davidson
would oft en play. Th e fi refi ghter died a
few days aft er the city bought the property
for $3 million.
“Th e coincidence was so overwhelming,”
In March, Connolly spoke with
Councilman Van Bramer about naming
the parkland — which the Parks
Department anticipates to acquire by the
end of the year — aft er Davidson, and
started persuading friends and residents
in the area to name the playground in
“honor of our local hero.”
She added that the idea to name the
playground aft er Davidson was inspired
by other public spaces named aft er fallen
heroes such as the Lawrence Virgilio
Playground in Woodside. Virgilio was a
local resident and fi refi ghter who died in
the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Center.
“I can’t imagine anyone more deserving,”
she said of Davidson.
Over the weekend, a team of 15 to 20
volunteers — including members from
the Friends of Michael Davidson Park,
Davidson’s three young children, Engine
69 Firefi ghters who worked with him
and Councilman Van Bramer — banded
together for a cleanup eff ort of the playground.
Photo courtesy of Friends of Michael Davidson Park
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