Sunnyside to hold its first Restaurant Week

Sunnyside to hold its first Restaurant Week
By Bill Parry

The experimental art group No Longer Empty will return to Queens and be part of the first Sunnyside Restaurant Week beginning Monday.

Last year the group transformed the vacant Bank of Manhattan Building — also known as The Clocktower — into an art gallery that brought thousands of visitors to Queens Plaza, something they have done more than a dozen times in different unused spaces throughout the city.

“It’s their first Restaurant Week and it’s a first for us as well,” said the show’s curator, Sarah Corona. “The BID contacted us and so we are providing the site-specific art.”

The business improvement district, known as Sunnyside Shines, formulated the plan, Executive Director Rachel Thieme said.

“I went to the show at The Clocktower and thought we don’t have any art galleries in Sunnyside, so this was a way to draw new people to the neighborhood as well as inspire Sunnyside residents to discover new art and restaurants they haven’t tried yet,” she said. “We’re really excited about it.”

A Sunnyside arts group was not happy initially.

“At first we were disappointed No Longer Empty and Sunnyside Shines didn’t open up installations to our 150-plus local artists. Each of us is a small local business like any other, needing a boost,” said Patricia Dorfman, the founder of Sunnyside Artists.

After much debate, the group decided to take the high road. “In sum, we are in favor of this new experiment,” she said. “Sunnyside Artists is not just about promoting ocal artists but about excellence in local art to make this area a destination for artists, art and art patrons.”

Sunnyside Artists President Manny Gomez said, “We think having outside work, perhaps excellent or provocative, will expand our local horizons. We can go and see what we think, get excited for or against it, and experience or regain our own innate exhilaration. Bring it in!”

Of the 17 restaurants involved in the weeklong promotion, four will host the exhibits on opening night, showcasing the works of international artists from Norway, Italy, England and Mexico. The art will stay on exhibit for two weeks at PJ Horgan’s Pub, Malingo Restaurant, Venturo and Nodus.

Nodus closed down over the weekend, however, Thieme. After a scramble for a different venue, Sunnyside Shines reached an agreement with the owner. “Tony Tang is going to set up the screen in the window so the video loop will still be displayed — you just can’t eat there,” she said.

The show is called “Conveying the Invisible” and it includes video animations, live painting performances and a touring neon-funeral car. The hearse will be parked in front of Horgan’s and it is sure to raise eyebrows because the pub is just doors away from the Edward D. Lynch Funeral Home.

The 17 restaurants run the gamut of international cuisine: Nepalese, Turkish, Japanese, Irish, Mexican, Paraguayan, Romanian and Thai. Venturo, a new classic Italian restaurant, at 44-07 Queens Blvd., will host the opening night reception Nov. 4.

Reach Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.