These 7 couples prove that you can find love in Astoria

Photo courtesy of Andriana and Vladimir Stojnic

Valentine’s Day may be approaching, but love is always in the air in western Queens. We have romantic date spots, breathtaking sites and head-over-heels couples who not only live here, but also met right here in the neighborhood.

Seven local couples shared with us their love stories that blossomed and grew in our beloved borough. Trust me, this isn’t some “500 Days of Summer” movie tease; these are, in fact, love stories. So grab a glass of red wine and milk chocolate and get ready to hardcore swoon over these western Queens love birds and their serendipitous how-we-met stories.

Blythe Irish and Kevin Tully

Photo courtesy of Blythe Irish and Kevin Tully
Photo courtesy of Blythe Irish and Kevin Tully

Blythe Irish and Kevin Tully were fortunate to match on OkCupid, but they really hit the lottery once they found out they both reside in Astoria. The couple went on their first date at The Sparrow Tavern off 29th Street and 24th Avenue the first week in June in 2011 and have been together ever since.

“[Kevin] suggested Sparrows after noticing we both lived in Astoria and wanted to keep it local,” Irish said. “He told me it was one of his favorite local [places]. I still remember standing on the corner outside and thinking how much cuter he was in person as he walked up. We wound up staying at Sparrows from around 8 p.m. till 1:30 a.m. just talking and went and swung on swings at the Astoria Boulevard playground afterwards just because we didn’t want the evening to end.”

While Irish bounced around neighborhoods and boroughs for a few years before she decided to make Astoria her home, Tully had only lived in Long Island City and Astoria. After their four-year mark, the couple chose to move in together in Astoria, their favorite neighborhood.

“We both love the strong community in Astoria and love to attend public events, such as movies and music in Astoria Park, art in Socrates Park, and events at Museum of the Moving Image. The local food scene and shops also keep us in the neighborhood. [We] also love exploring all the restaurants and bars that open in the area. We recently discovered karaoke night at McLoughlins, which was a lot of fun,” Irish said.

Favorite Date Spots:

Butcher Bar

Sparrow Tavern

HiFi Records




Gildo and Yukari

Photo courtesy of Gildo and Yukari
Photo courtesy of Gildo and Yukari

How could someone say “I was born and raised in Astoria,” and not win someone over right from the start?

Turns out, it worked quite well for Astoria resident Gildo during his first exchange with his now-wife Yukari, who moved to Astoria from Kobe, Japan, in 2000. Gildo and Yukari met at the pastry shop off Ditmars called LaGuli’s in October 2001.

“We were waiting on line to buy coffee up Ditmars and I introduced myself to her. I am originally from Astoria born and raised and welcomed her to the neighborhood,” Gildo said.

Gildo and Yukari got married in June 2004 with a simple wedding at City Hall. After, they celebrated with a large shindig at the Greek restaurant Stamatis off 23rd Avenue in Astoria.

The longtime love birds don’t have any plans to move away from Astoria. According to Gildo, everything they need is here — most importantly, each other.

Favorite Date Spots:

Astoria Park

Noguchi Museum

Museum of the Moving Image


Erica Romero and JB Reefer

Photo courtesy of Erica Romero and JB Reefer
Photo courtesy of Erica Romero and JB Reefer

When most of us wait for the subway, we don’t normally think how perfect it would be to propose or be proposed to directly in front of the “Broadway” sign on the platform. But for Erica Romero and JB Reefer, whose relationship was born in Astoria and continues to thrive here, then it is the most romantic and ideal spot to decide to tie the knot.

The couple initially spotted (or swiped) each other on Tinder in 2015 and started their first date off at Sek’end Sun off Broadway.

“[Erica] was wearing these jeans with rips and totally blew me away. We romped around Astoria for eight hours — probably the longest first date I’ve ever been on — [and] I was immediately obsessed,” Reefer said. “I spent way too much that night at La Sala. She’s fun to hang out with and I didn’t want her to leave, so swanky drinks and deep couches did the trick. Erica’s amazing. I was hooked.”

The couple is getting married this summer at the Museum of the Moving Image, and Romero and Reefer still frequent Sek’end Sun after big moments in their relationship. After Reefer proposed to Romero at the Broadway station, they met up with friends at the Astoria hot spot and popped a bottle of bubbly.

“We commute to work together every morning and always stand right by that sign. That public spot is so much more to us. Every day, we get to stand together right where we got engaged and relive it all over again,” Romero said.

Favorite Date Spots:

Sek’end Sun

The Bonnie

Museum of the Moving Image

Socrates Sculpture Park


Andriana and Vladimir Stojnic

Photo courtesy of Andriana and Vladimir Stojnic
Photo courtesy of Andriana and Vladimir Stojnic

Remember that person at the bar who randomly started talking to you and your friends? What if I told you they could have been the love of your life? You may not believe me, but I’m sure Vladimir and Andriana Stojnic could change your mind.

The husband and wife originally met in the fall of 2009 at Time Cafe when Vladimir Stojnic started a conversation with Andriana and her friend.

“The moment I walked in, I see a gorgeous girl with beautiful curly hair let down, properly dressed up in suit, talking to her friend. Her friend was much nicer and started talking to me, while this muse was ignoring me fully. Night went by,” Vladimir Stojnic said.

Fast forward to a couple months later, May of 2010, when Andriana and Vladimir crossed paths again at the same place.

“I was heading to meet my bestie at Time Cafe for a nice night out,” Andriana Stojnic said. Before they went in, her friend met her outside, saying that “there is this extremely good looking guy in a hat that I must see.

“Shortly after, I notice the guy looking my way and asking the bartender who I was. I am great at reading lips clearly,” Andriana Stojnic continued. “After some time of passing glances, we went our separate ways only to eventually turn around and seeing him in front of me up close. Full of smiles, talking and laughs, we truly made it a night to remember. We have been inseparable since that night.”

The Stojnics remain in Astoria — now with their two kids — and love the diversity and tight-knit feel of the neighborhood.

“Everything we use, do, have, breathe comes from places or people in Astoria and LIC,” Andriana Stojnic said.

Favorite Date Spots:


Taverna Kyclades

Il Bambino

Sweet Afton

Astoria Park



Mary Dannegger and Warren Sheinwald

Photo courtesy of Mary Dannegger and Warren Sheinwald
Photo courtesy of Mary Dannegger and Warren Sheinwald

We can all agree that volunteerism in our borough is important — it benefits the community, makes volunteers feel like they’re making a difference and is a terrific opportunity to connect with neighbors. But one local couple proves that volunteering can lead you to a new relationship, too.

Two years ago, the goodwill of Mary Dannegger and Warren Sheinwald led to the couple meeting at a dart game sign-up at a Thanksgiving canned food drive organized by Astoria Social at The Irish Rover bar.

“The following summer we started dating. Our first date was at Blackbirds, and as of November, Warren is my fiancé,” Dannegger said.

Both Dannegger and Sheinwald feel rooted and right at home in Astoria. The two bonded over their love of recreational activities and now play together on a dart and softball league (shoutout to their teams, Sissy McGinty’s and JTFT).

“We love Astoria because there’s always something to do, a new restaurant or bar in the area, and have met so many great friends from being involved in Astoria Social. [Sheinwald] was drawn to Astoria because some of his friends from Long Island that he grew up with moved here, and I was looking for a change after living in Midtown Manhattan for a few years,” Dannegger said.

The couples Valentine’s Day will be spent cooking dinner together and then having a nightcap at Vintage off Ditmars.

Favorite Date Spots:

The Last Word


Thirsty Koala


Lisa Mayer and John Benevides

Photo courtesy of Lisa Mayer and John Benevides
Photo courtesy of Lisa Mayer and John Benevides

Usually those nights when a friend pushes you to go out and mingle turn out to be the most noteworthy and historical. Without a mutual friend and a bit of crafty planning, Lisa Mayer and John Benevides may not have met in August of 2016.

“A friend of mine at work, who also lived in Astoria, said we should meet up for drinks one night in Queens. After a few weeks of trying to coordinate, we both brought our friends out one night [to Oliver’s off Broadway] and his roommate happened to be [Benevides]. [We] had such a fun night the two of us talking and really hit it off,” Mayer said.

The night came into fruition a little bit differently for Benevides, who decided to take matters into his own hands.

“My roommate told me one of his coworkers lived in Astoria, and I kept nagging him to call her and finally I just texted her from his phone to meet up,” Benevides said.

Who would’ve thought that the girl he texted from his friend’s phone would be his girlfriend two months later? The couple now has their own apartment in Astoria, where they enjoy a cup of coffee on their balcony overlooking the Triborough Bridge and entertain their friends for game nights.

Favorite Date Spots:

Singlecut Brewery

Neptune Diner

BZ Grill


Astoria Craft


Andrea Werwinski and Justin Liberti

Photos courtesy of Andrea Werwinski and Justin Liberti
Photos courtesy of Andrea Werwinski and Justin Liberti

Sometimes the best meet-cutes are the ones you don’t expect at all. After rushing to fly home from a trip to Nashville in August 2016, throwing on a souvenir tank top (her only clean shirt) and racing to get to her friend Ross Liberti’s birthday party at Bohemian Beer Garden, Andrea Werwinski did not expect to meet her current boyfriend Justin Liberti that night.

“My afternoon flight was overbooked and they were offering a large amount of money to switch to a later flight. I almost did it, but I really didn’t want to miss Ross’ party. [On] my way [into the Bohemian Beer Garden] I ran into my friend Ross, who was leaving to go get his brother who was driving in from Boston. Once I sat down with our friends, I ordered my favorite beef goulash for dinner. A little while later, Ross walked back in with his brother, who I had never met. My very first thought [was], ‘Whoa, Ross’s brother is hot!’ Justin sat right across from me,” Werwinski said.

The couple were drawn to each other instantly. Werwinski made the first (and clever) move of offering Liberti the rest of her goulash, which he ate all of.

“We talked and laughed and played games all night. My eyes and my attention were totally drawn to him, and his to me. Late that night he walked me home, and kissed me goodnight (like a gentleman). From then on, we were together,” Werwinski said.

For Valentine’s Day, the love birds plan to keep things pretty low-key. According to Werwinski, Liberti doesn’t need to special day to show her how much he loves her; he shows her every day. However, Werwinski plans to surprise him with this feature about their love story. Happy Valentine’s Day, Justin and Andrea!

Favorite Date Spots:

Bohemian Beer Garden

Museum of the Moving Image

Anywhere that televises sports games

Want to read about more local meet-cutes? Find last year’s roundup of couples who met in Astoria here.