Queens Courier Year in Review: The top stories from September 2019

queens courier top sept stories
RentHop/Google Maps/Brian Dempseys

Take a look at some of the top stories from September 2019.

State takes away liquor license from Mazi Nightclub in Richmond Hill

Photo via Google Maps

A Richmond Hill nightspot had its liquor license suspended by the State Liquor Authority (SLA) following a fatal shooting on Sept. 5. Gunfire erupted outside the Mazi Nightclub, at 130-35 91st St., during the early morning hours of Sept. 2 killing a 35-year-old man and wounding two others. EMT rushed the man with a wounded chest to Jamaica Hospital, but he died, according to police.

A second victim was left in critical condition at Jamaica Hospital and a third, shot in both legs, was in stable condition at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The NYPD reported that video surveillance from that same night showed another unrelated incident, where a patron was was beaten inside the Mazi Nightclub and struck in the head with a bottle. The victim, who received medical treatment at Jamaica Hospital, reported bouncers from the club simply ushered him out the door following the assault. The September shooting is just the latest in a series of disorders emanating from the Mazi Nightclub, according to the SLA.

The nightclub was fined $15,000 on Oct. 15, 2018, for charges involving an assault and operating a disorderly premises. But the SLA’s decision to suspend a license isn’t a final determination on the merits of the case, and the licensee is entitled to an expedited administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

Flushing, Astoria and LIC had the highest amount of Health Department violations in Queens

Screenshot via RentHop.com

A report by RentHop sought to find out which areas in Queens had more restaurants that weren’t up to Health Department code. Their interactive map measured which neighborhoods had the highest and lowest restaurant grades based on recent inspections. It also looked at the number of health violations that restaurants throughout the city received from 2016 through 2019, including mice and rodent violations.

According to RentHop’s data, three Queens neighborhoods had the highest amount of violations at neighborhood restaurants between 2017 and 2019: Flushing, 1,529 in 2017, 2,695 in 2018 and 2,611 in 2019; Astoria, 1,263 in 2017, 2,098 in 2018 and 1,830 in 2019; and Hunters Point-Sunnyside-West Maspeth, 1,324 in 2017, 1,880 in 2018 and 1,421 in 2019.

A representative from the Health Department told QNS that RentHop had inappropriately compared violations in this report. Restaurants that go out of business have their data removed from the Health Department’s OpenData dataset, making it so fewer violations will appear for previous years when compared to the current year. Not all violations from 2016 are likely to be included in the counts, even for currently active restaurants, according to the department.

Employee at Bayside eatery under fire for allegedly calling Asians ‘cockroaches’ on social media

Photo courtesy of Brian Dempsey’s

The Asian community in Bayside voiced outrage after a local restaurant employee allegedly posted racist comments on a community Facebook group. Screenshots from a now deleted Facebook page show an employee at Brian Dempsey’s on Bell Boulevard referring to Chinese and Korean people as “cockroaches.” Residents identified the woman as restaurant server Mariesa Stewart, who allegedly posted the comment on the Bayside Facebook group on Sept. 15.

Stewart, however, denied she made the comment and said her account had been hacked. But locals began flooding the comment sections on Brian Dempsey’s Yelp, Instagram and Facebook pages. Resident Koy Penguina, who wished to use an alias for protection, said that the admin of the restaurant’s Instagram was deleting comments calling out the racist behavior.

Stewart, who initially appeared as “Mariesa Mc Cluskey Stewart” on Facebook, changed her name to “Mariesa Stewart” amidst the backlash. She then issued a statement on her page claiming that someone had “hacked” or “cloned” her Facebook. Brian Dempsey’s, which celebrated 25 years of business on Sept. 21, issued a statement on its official Facebook page as well, stating that they do not “condone nor accept these hateful comments.”

Penguina said the community wanted the restaurant to apologize, but when they reached out, the restaurant repeated that Stewart’s Facebook had been hacked.

Construction to expand building begins at the vacant Oasis Theater in Ridgewood

A photo of the Oasis’ exterior in September 2019 (Photo: Max Parrott/QNS)

The former Oasis Theatre, the hulking building at 63-57 Fresh Pond Road, which was remodeled into a CVS pharmacy in the early 2010s, went under construction at the beginning of September to expand it into a large new commercial building.

Seve Sasson, president of ABC Super Stores, filed plans with the Department of Buildings that propose lowering the height of the building and expanding its horizontal dimensions to fill most of the lot. They also involve enlarging the cellar and plumbing work.

In spite of Sasson’s direct association with a chain of discount stores, he said that he has not announced that’s what’s in the cards for the building. He raised the possibility to QNS that there could be more than one store in the building, insisting he’s not ready to disclose his plans for the building yet.

“Everything is on the table,” said Sasson.