In an effort to support the economic recovery of Astoria’s restaurants impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new project has been launched to bring a curated selection of the neighborhood’s best eateries to residents while supporting small businesses.
The collaboration between Joe DiStefano, the food writer and tour guide widely known as the Culinary King of Queens, and Innovation QNS will create a new virtual food hall that will bring the diverse tastes of Astoria to residents across the borough.
“For the past 20 years, I’ve been falling in love with the richly diverse food culture of the ‘World’s Borough,’” DiStefano said. “As a partner in Innovation QNS, I’m so excited to help bring Astoria Eats to life. From fresh Greek seafood to classic NYC pizza, in-the-know Queens residents now ill be able to enjoy the very best restaurants Astoria has to offer while supporting these small businesses that are the backbone of our community.”
Astoria Eats, powered by Innovation QNS, will connect western Queens with a selection of culinary establishments curated by DiStefano, author of the book “111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss” and the popular food blog “Chopsticks+Marrow.” Astoria Eats will replicate the traditional food hall experience of sampling different menu items from multiple restaurants all on a single online platform, beginning with a first slate of featured eateries including Astoria Bier & Cheese, Boishakhi, Duzan, Mar’s, Ornella, Tacuba and Zenon Taverna.
View the Astoria Eats menu here.
Additional restaurants are already signed up and will be unveiled in the weeks ahead. In addition to providing Queens residents with a unique dining experience, Astoria Eats will help put more money into local restaurants, which have been especially hard-hit by COVID-19. Innovation QNS will host and support the virtual food hall, offering participating restaurants an alternative to expensive third-party delivery platforms that take for themselves almost a third of order revenues, and will promote the restaurants through press coverage, advertising, social media and other marketing efforts.
“Astoria is one of the most diverse and well-rounded restaurant scenes that New York City has to offer, and that’s saying a lot,” NYC Hospitality Alliance Executive Director Andrew Rigie said. “Enormous respect and congratulations to Joe and Innovation QNS for bringing Astoria Eats to life and providing critical support to restaurants that have been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In addition to curating Astoria Eats, DiStefano will also advise on the mix of restaurants that will be part of the new Innovation QNS district, including a brick-and-mortar Astoria Eats food hall as part of the proposed five-block stretch along 35th Avenue adjacent to Kaufman Astoria Studios.
The district proposal — led by KAS, Silverstein Properties and BedRock Real Estate Partners and developed through more than two years of community engagement — includes mixed-income housing; space for startups, small businesses and nonprofits in the city’s creative industries; community health and wellness facilities; and neighborhood-focused shops, restaurants and entertainment.
The plan also includes more than two acres of open space, educational programming for residents of all ages, space for people to create and enjoy the arts, and support for existing neighborhood small businesses.
“Joe DiStefano knows the Queens food scene better than anyone else. He’s a Queens guy, and his ‘locals only’ insights are so important,” Kaufman Astoria Studios Vice President Tracy Capune said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Joe as a partner in Innovation QNS, beginning with Astoria Eats.”