By Joe Anuta
The new owner of the cafe at Whitestone’s LeHavre on the Water is whipping up unique menu items that are as good as the picturesque view outside.
Logan O’Connor cut the ribbon on Logan’s Cafe in February, and diners who patronized previous iterations of the restaurant will be in for a pleasant surprise.
Instead of run-of-the mill hotdogs, hamburgers and bratwurst, the 20-year-old has been serving eggplant burgers and fresh chicken wraps for residents of the expansive housing complex — along with those who have come from northeast Queens just to sample the fare.
“Everything I make is all fresh,” said the lifelong Whitestone resident. “I don’t just buy frozen food and reheat it.”
One of O’Connor’s most popular creations this summer is the Texas wrap, which consists of a fried chicken cutlet, sauteed onions, barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese wrapped in a tortilla.
The entrepreneur cut his teeth in several area kitchens before taking classes on both the culinary arts and the business side of hospitality management.
On a November day last year, he was visiting his grandparents, who live in the complex, and noticed on a bulletin board that the previous owner was shuttering the cafe.
The building is technically part of LeHavre and the complex brass wanted to keep a cafe on the spot, but needed a new tenant, which is when O’Connor had the idea of going into business for himself.
He would not be the first in his family to do so. The O’Connor clan seems to have a congenital aversion to bosses. His father started his own balloon company before passing it on to O’Connor’s 21-year-old brother, Devon O’Connor, who also runs a civic organization called Welcome to Whitestone.
“There is nothing like working for yourself and having complete control over something that you love doing,” O’Connor said.
With a little help from the rest of his family, he began planning a menu and within months had redone the inside of the store and opened up shop.
His menu items are not always pre-planned, though.
One day earlier this year, a woman walked into the cafe and placed a rather unusual request that soon became a best-seller.
She knew O’Connor made his own crab cakes. She also knew he made crepes.
She wanted them combined, and soon a new O’Connor creation was born.
“‘That’s weird,’” the chef recalled thinking. “‘But I’ll do it.’ I made it for her, put it on the special board and then a bunch of people started ordering it. They said it was the best thing they’ve ever tasted.”
And sometimes the best side dish to a good meal is a good view.
“You have a perfect view of Fort Totten and Little Bay Park,” he said.
The restaurant faces the Long Island Sound, where the Throgs Neck Bridge makes a long arc over the water, and is right next to the LeHavre pool.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.