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Rendering courtesy of Franklin Rivera/Photos THE COURIER/By Liam La Guerre
Rendering courtesy of Franklin Rivera/Photos THE COURIER/By Liam La Guerre
Mela’s Café, a new restaurant on Kissena Boulevard, is set to open soon along with other eateries in the area, highlighting an influx of businesses on the commercial strip.


The Hills are alive with the sound of business.

Just two months after mega computer department store Micro Center took up numerous empty lots and opened on Kissena Boulevard in Kew Gardens Hills, three new businesses are set to open on the thoroughfare soon as well.

Main Street, the community’s central commercial strip, has long been the chief hub for business in the neighborhood, but the change Kissena Boulevard is undergoing has some residents and local civic leaders excited.

“People are starting to invest money,” said Mike Sidell, a resident of nearly 60 years. “I just walked past it and I see the difference.”

Mela’s Café will replace a defunct diner and open on 71-02 Kissena Blvd. in about three weeks, said new owners Franklin Rivera and his wife, Ketty. It will serve Latin American cuisine and expects to sell alcohol — the owners are waiting for a response for their liquor license application.

Rivera, who owns the Brooklyn-based restaurant supply company Los Primos Meat Market, said it was simply time for the family to own a restaurant. Ketty will serve as head chef, while he will be in and out as a manager.

The restaurant was named after their daughter Melissa’s nickname “Mela,” because they thought it would be easy to remember. Rivera said he’s excited for the restaurant’s grand opening and the business boom in the area as well.

“On a scale of one to 100, I’m 150 percent excited,” he said. “Business booming is good. It means more people.”

On the next block, two restaurants are set to open, including Wings on Top, which will share space with an extant Subway restaurant.

Despite the influx, not everyone is confident that the change is for the better.

“As far of restaurants are concerned, it comes and goes like the days of the week,” said Jim Jaffe, a director of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association. “There is a big turnover in restaurants in this community. That’s not a rock-solid business.”

 

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