Last week, blogger Christopher Blair wrote in with a shocking status report on the fast food situation in Astoria. BK? The King packed up his crown. Mickey D's? Burned down. KFC? Lost its lease. Was it all a conspiracy, as Blair suggested?
Well, Curbed reader Jeanette, a lifelong Astorian (she swears!), would like to tell you a thing or two about what's going on in the neighborhood. She was kind enough to provide us with a detailed account of the recent history of retail and food service along Ditmars Avenue?a history fraught with blood, sweat, tears and ... Cold Stone Creamery. Oh, and more fires. Plenty more fires. And to the conspiracy theorists, she says this: "I would like to agree that there is truly something bizarre going in the Ditmars area, however, a Greek conspiracy surely is not it!" Tune in after the jump, won't you? It's a meaty one.
I live 2 blocks away, and do to bad habits I eat dinner at least 3/4 nights a week on Ditmars. There are still some great fast food spots such as: Pizza Palace which has been there for over 20 years (down sized, but still there), Fresco Tortillas, several chicken places including a new Wing place opening soon in the same area where Burger King was ect. KFC lost there lease and so did Hershey's which has been there for over 25 years which originally started as Baskin Robbins. Both KFC and Hershey's had the same landlord. Years back when Astoria became better known and Starbucks came to the area things have rapidly changed. The vacant store which was vacant for a while is probably the space on 31st Street adjacent to Commerce Bank where Cold Stone Creamery will now be. The fire was not solely in McDonald's, it was also in a brick oven/ panini cafe (can't even remember the name) which opened only a few years back with Manhattan prices, Cohen's Optical and Twin Donuts which was an inexpensive spot to get grilled food as well as coffee. The brick oven/ panini place was expensive and not the best place on Ditmars since slightly up the block and across the street a bigger and better "health food" restaurant, Soho, appeared attached to the Rock Fitness Center. Rumor has it that the fire started at the Small spot with Big prices.
My point is that I believe it to be more of a get rid of Hershey's bring in the Cold Stone; get rid of Dunkin Donuts and bring in the Starbucks... it' s all about who could afford the ridiculous rents! Not to mention prior to the Mc Donald's fire there was another fire at a cafe on the corner of 31st Street and 23 Ave, only 1/2 a block away and not even a year before that there was a fire in a manhole having something to do w/ Con Edison which burned a pharmacy, nail salon, and local fish store. Obviously insurance covered the damages, however, unfortunately the nail salon never returned. The pharmacy and fish store are now better and bigger than before. Maybe there is an Arsonist around soliciting insurance jobs or something! Just incase you haven't checked out the Afghanistan Restaurant on 31st St btwn 23 Road and Avenue, the place is great and expanded!
· Astoria/Ditmars Fast Food Conspiracy [Curbed]