Caffé on Green successor set to open in spring

By Nathan Duke

The long-awaited restaurant and catering hall that will replace Bayside’s Caffe on the Green could finally open in the spring now that the site along the Cross Island Parkway is undergoing renovation, Community Board 11’s district manager said.

The project had been moving along slowly because the site’s concessionaire had been awaiting permits from several city agencies, such as the city Department of Buildings and city Public Design Commission. But community board leaders from northeast Queens said they were given an update Monday on Valentino’s on the Green, which will replace the Caffe at 201-10 Cross Island Pkwy. in Bayside.

Valentino’s is now expected to open its doors at some point in the spring.

“I just wish they’d open as soon as possible,” said Eugene Kelty, chairman of Community Board 7. “I understand they’ve needed to get approvals. It’s just the time frame that’s annoying. The [city] Parks Department should have helped the concessionaire to move forward as quickly as possible.”

Caffe on the Green closed its doors permanently Jan. 1 after the city decided not to renew concessionaire Joseph Franco’s contract. Earlier this year, the city chose Manhattan’s Friendship Restaurant Group to take over operations for the site.

“The Parks Department does not collect any revenue until they open up,” Kelty said of the restaurant. “They’ve lost a whole year of business. But the design looks very nice. It’s keeping with the romantic Valentino feel. They seem to be on the mark.”

The site was formerly the home of silent film star Rudolph Valentino.

Friendship Restaurant Group is made up of several groups, including White Plains restaurant Famous Famiglia. Paul Kolaj, president of Famous Famiglia, did not return calls for comment.

Seinfeld said she was told at this week’s meeting on the site that Valentino’s will include two sides of a restaurant on the first floor and a catering hall on the second floor. The site will retain its bar and hold wine tastings as well as upgrading its fireplace, she said.

Jerry Iannece, chairman of CB 11, said the restaurant will be able to seat 170 people, while the catering hall will have room for more than 200 people.

The building will include an exterior elevator that will provide handicap accessibility.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said he was glad to hear the restaurant will finally open in the spring, but the process has taken too long.

“[Caffe] was a favorite watering hole where many people had functions,” he said. “But I drove by it with my wife the other day and we said, ‘Wow, it’s still not in there.’”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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