Queens Impact Awards: Sunnyside restaurateur advocates for fellow businesses

By Tammy Scileppi

Lily Gavin, owner of popular Sunnyside restaurant, Dazie’s, says she and her family feel fortunate to have been part of the community for the past 40 years.

Conveniently located at 39-41 Queens Blvd., and just a stone’s throw from the Queensborough Bridge, Dazie’s has become a neighborhood landmark, serving up traditional Italian cuisine in a comfortably elegant setting, one of the last to feature a piano bar.

Gavin says she enjoys giving back whenever she can. One way is by offering patrons a great dining experience.

A dedicated advocate for the borough and for education, the longtime Forest Hills resident says she and her family have always given their personal time to the Queens community.

As honorary director of the LaGuardia Community College Foundation, Gavin played an integral leadership role in its growth and development since it was founded in 2003. And through her commitment, loyalty and support, she helped the foundation raise $2.6 million.

She also serves as vice president of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce and was one of the first women inducted into the Kiwanis Club, where she is still a member. And she is a trustee of the Queens Library.

In her spare time, Gavin says she is active at the Sunnyside Senior Center and at the local Y as well as the Queens Council of Tourism and the local Boys & Girls Clubs.

“I love Lily Gavin — that woman is Sunnyside,” Luke Adams, a former president of the Chamber of Commerce said. “She was one of the first people I met when I joined the chamber some 30 years ago. She single-handedly held the chamber together during some of the lean years when we had some of our weaker presidents.”

Adams added that without her support there would be no iconic Sunnyside Arch, the art deco landmark on Queens Boulevard. Adams was the president of Gateway Community Services, a city-funded economic development agency that erected the arch in the early 80s. When Gateway disbanded, the arch fell into disrepair until Gavin was serving as co-chair of the Chamber of Commerce in 2005. She worked with elected officials to fund the $450,000 face-lift. “I think it shows that the community is revitalized,” Gavin said at the time.

“She is such an unsung hero who works behind the scenes and never seeks the spotlight,” Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley said. “Lily is a force that has brought about change in the quality of life in both Sunnyside and Woodside. She’s been so effective on a myriad of issues, the go-to person when the community is in need or when someone needs a helping hand.”

Dorothy Morehead, a longtime Sunnyside real estate agent and member of the community board said, “I feel like I’ve known Lily for a million years. She has been the pillar of the community around here for so many decades, and I might add, her restaurant has the best Italian food in the entire neighborhood.”