QNS’ top 10 stories in 2023

Photo by Anthony Medina

As we prepare for 2024, QNS is looking back at some of our most widely read stories in 2023. Readers were active in 2023, with more than 7 million views. From crime, to local businesses and more, 2023 had a lot to offer in Queens.

Brooklyn woman gets more than two decades in prison for feeding sedative-laced cheesecake to her Forest Hills look-alike: DA

Brooklyn resident Viktoria Nasyrova was sentenced to 21 years in prison for trying to kill a Forest Hills woman with poisoned cheesecake in 2016. Nasyrova possessed many of the same physical traits as the victim and tried to steal the woman’s identity Photo via Facebook

Viktoria Nasyrova, a Russian émigré from Brooklyn, was sentenced to 21 years in prison for attempting to murder Forest Hills resident Olga Tsvyk by feeding her a cheesecake laced with sedatives in 2016.

Nasyrova also stole Tsvyk’s passport, employment authorization card, $4,000 in cash, a gold ring and other valuables. Nasyrova and Tsvyk shared multiple physical traits at the time, including hair color and complexion, in addition to being able to speak Russian. According to authorities, Nasyrova tried to kill Tsvyk in order to steal her identity.

Queens DA announces million-dollar bust of drug, gun trafficking ring in Jamaica

Photo by Anthony Medina

Eight men, including three Jamaica residents, were arrested and charged with trafficking guns and drugs, operating out of Rufus King Park.

After police commissioner’s first visit to Flushing, NYPD confiscates illegal street vendor’s strawberries

Council Member Sandra Ung led NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban on a walk down Flushing’s Main Street. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan
Shortly after the walk concluded and Caban left, an illegal street vendor who was selling fruit at the corner of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue had stacks of strawberries confiscated by police after confirming she was selling without a license.

Ung’s office has been working to locate an alternative space for street vendors that does not contribute to the existing congestion and create safety hazards. Setting up stands on the sidewalks creates a safety risk for pedestrians, especially for the elderly and young children.

Owners announce closure of Bayside Diner, a longtime neighborhood staple

Photo by Ethan Marshall

On Mar. 28, the Bayside Diner officially closed its doors after over a decade serving the community under new ownership and nearly 60 more years under previous ownership.

According to owners Spiro and Elias Katsihtis, inflation and the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were the main contributing factors to its closure.

“It is with a heavy heart that after decades of service to the community, we are closing Bayside Diner,” the owners said in a statement, which was posted on the diner’s front door on Tuesday. “We sincerely thank the Bayside community as well as our current and past employees for their loyalty and hard work. It has been an absolute privilege serving the Bayside community over these many years and we will never forget the love and support our customers and employees have shown us.”

New Trader Joe’s in Forest Hills opening

The new Trader Joe’s store on Yellowstone Blvd. opened its doors to the Forest Hills community this year. Photo courtesy of Trader Joe’s
This marked the third Trader Joe’s location to open in Queens. When the location finally did open, hundreds showed up to shop at the popular supermarket chain.

These Queens restaurants were featured on the New York Times’ ‘100 Best Restaurants in New York City’ list

Photo by Sarah Choi / Queens Night Market

Flushing’s CheLi and Queens Night Market ended up being ranked in the top 10, at numbers 8 and 9 respectively. Other Queens restaurants to make the list included Elmhurst’s Zaab Zaab (14th), Birria-Landia  (18th) in Jackson Heights, Tacos El Borrego (30th) in Corona, Adda Indian Canteen (35th) in Long Island City, Chongqing Lao Zao (46th) in Flushing and Corona Plaza Vendors (48th) in Corona.

Rounding out the list from Queens was M. Wells (50th) in Long Island City, Don Peppe (56th) in Ozone Park, Forever Jerk (62nd) in Springfield Gardens, Mariscos El Submarino (71st) in Jackson Heights, AbuQir Seafood (75th) in Astoria, Pata Paplean Bar (78th) in Elmhurst, Mapo Korean Barbeque (81st) in Flushing, Szechuan Mountain House (90th) in Flushing,  Temple Canteen (96th) in Flushing, Caleta 111 (99th) in Richmond Hill and Zum Stammtisch (100th) in Glendale.

“Queens is the most diverse place on earth, and there is no better way to experience that diversity than through the wonderful restaurants that you can find in every neighborhood throughout the borough,” said Tom Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “We are proud to be home to some of the best cuisine in New York City, and congratulate the 19 Queens-based eateries included on this year’s ‘Best 100’ list. These small businesses are the lifeblood of our borough, creating jobs and opportunity, and we wish them continued success.”

‘The situation is getting worse’: Councilwoman announces petition calling on city agencies to enforce existing street vending regulations in Flushing

Councilwoman Sandra Ung speaks at a news conference in downtown Flushing on Wednesday, March 8, 2023. Ung, local business owners and community members are launching a petition calling on the city to enforce existing street vending regulations. Photo by Paul Frangipane

“I am encouraging everyone who is frustrated like us to sign this petition and show the city that people who live, work and visit here, support enforcement of the no vending zone and want our sidewalks to return back to the pedestrians they’re intended for,” Ung said.

Ung noted the public safety risks posed by the high density of these illegal street vendors, especially in downtown Flushing, which contains some of the busiest intersections in the city.

‘It breaks my heart’: Owner of Irish pub in Maspeth forced to sell after 35 years

Glenpatrick’s Pub owner Phil Hickey stands outside his pub in Maspeth. Photo by Elijah Hamilton
Phil Hickey, the owner of Glenpatrick’s Pub in Maspeth, was forced to sell the Irish pub in February after 35 years of operation.
According to Hickey, a lack of business was the main reason as to why he was selling the pub. He said the pub never fully recovered from the hit it took during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve made thousands of friends. People have met each other and got married [after meeting here]. It’s just devastating to know that after so many years, you gotta walk away,” Hickey said. “It breaks my heart that I’m gonna have to sell my parents’ legacy.”

Operators of several southeast Queens smoke shops arrested after joint operation against illicit cannabis sales

Southeast Queens smoke shops were targeted by the 105th Precinct and the NYC Sheriff’s Office and arrests were made for illicit cannabis sales. Photos courtesy of NYC Sheriff’s Office

“I’d like to commend the 105th Precinct and the Sheriff’s Joint Compliance Task Force for their successful efforts in cracking down on illegal smoke shops in my district,” Queens Councilwoman Nantasha Williams said. “Such operations are essential in protecting the health and safety of the community and ensuring that businesses operate legally and with proper licenses.”

Whitestone resident crowned United States of America’s Miss 2023

Photo courtesy of Katherine McQuade