Rohan Aggarwal loves Queens. After growing up in Kew Gardens, he began working at an early age at his father’s Forest Hills restaurant Baluchi’s, where he learned the trade and later managed before attending a culinary school.
After briefly managing The Water’s Edge in Long Island City, he went on to open his own eatery at the same location of Baluchi’s in 2017.
Aggarwal and his partner, childhood friend Suraj Patel, opened Queens Bully, a spacious barbecue restaurant located at 113-30 Queens Blvd. that was just hitting stride when the COVID-19 pandemic forced its shutdown.
“We were doing all right with delivery and takeout service but then we got involved in local relief with other groups, like the Corona-based apparel shop All the Right, and started preparing meals,” Aggarwal said. “Then we got involved with World Central Kitchen with the amazing chef José Andrés, and before long we were preparing thousands of meals a week to distribute at area community centers, firehouses, EMS units and hospitals.”
Throughout the pandemic, Aggarwall’s love for the borough grew deeper and he wanted a way to bring residents together to celebrate the “World’s Borough” — so on Sunday, July 18, he is launching the first-ever “718 Day” and partnering with the best of Queens, including Queensboro Football Club, Queens Finest, Officially Threaded, Etto Espresso Bar, QNS Service, Blend and many more.
“718 is our Queens area code and the date will be July 18 … 7/18,” Aggarwal said with a laugh. “It’s going to be the perfect way to show our appreciation for all things Queens. Because of many COVID restrictions, we weren’t able to get a large venue, so we decided to do it right here at Queens Bully.”
The name of the restaurant is what Aggarwall and Patel used to call Queens Boulevard when they were growing up along the thoroughfare in Kew Gardens and Forest Hills.
“We weren’t able to get the permits to do this as a street festival, so we’re going to use what we have: a large outdoor patio area,” Aggarwall said. “We’ll put up a festival tent over our parking lot for live music with DJs, bands and other performers and we’ll set up food stalls inside the restaurant.”
Ten to 15 local businesses are taking part and there will be food eating competitions, raffles and giveaways. Tickets are quickly selling out, and each $10 ticket gets you two $5 vouchers to spend on many of the booths.
For more information and tickets for 718 Day, visit the Eventbrite page here.
“It’s going to be a great celebration,” Aggarwal said. “We’re going to showcase the people and businesses that make Queens such a great place.”