Armondo’s reopens on Northern Boulevard after Bruson fire

By Bill Parry

Armondo’s Italian Restaurant has reopened nearly a year after its old Jackson Heights location was destroyed during the five-alarm fire at the Bruson Building in April.

Owner Jerry Crisci moved into the former Trieste Restaurant, at 73-16 Northern Blvd., after a search for space on 37th Avenue.

“My wife Patricia and I had the old location at the corner of 37th Avenue and 75th Street for 42 years,” Crisci said. “Of course, we wanted to stay on 37th Avenue. It’s the main drag in Jackson Heights, but I was shocked at the rents. One tiny place was going for $18,000 a month. It was time to look elsewhere.”

When he heard that Trieste owner Elio Honovic was retiring, he jumped at the chance to move in. After a complete remodeling, Armondo’s had a “soft opening” on Valentine’s Day and now he’s waiting for warmer weather before scheduling a grand opening.

“A lot of our customers are getting up in years, so it’s best to wait until all the ice goes away,” Crisci said. “I was surprised at how many familiar faces made it here on Valentine’s Day. Even though we’re just four blocks away from the old place I was afraid nobody would find it.”

Crisci said the fire that broke out in the Bruson Building was heartbreaking.

“I’m standing there on the corner watching 42 years of my life go up in flames, but it wasn’t just us. There were 50-something businesses that made their home in that building so that was hard to watch.”

Jerry and Patricia Crisci, both 67, thought about retiring but weren’t ready.

“We love the restaurant business and we thought about staying closer to home in Westchester, but our customers in Jackson Heights are like family. If we were going to stay in the business, we wanted to stay in Jackson Heights.”

The new Armondo’s looks different because the decor is more modern, but the staff is the same. The menu has been upgraded with some healthier option.

And well he misses the bustle of 37th Avenue and the proximity of the No. 7 subway line, Crisci thinks Northern Boulevard will suit them just fine.

“Northern Boulevard might become the new 37th Avenue,” he said. “There’s new stores and restaurants opening up here all the time. I think they’re pricing everyone out over on 37th Avenue. I mean, $18,000 a month? I couldn’t believe it.”

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

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