BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
After neighbors challenged his plans to put a nearly 100-seat open café along 30th Avenue at 36th Street, restaurant owner George Sorotos agreed to meet with them and retool.
Sorotos owns Piatsa Souvlaki Café at 36-02 30th Ave. in Astoria. He approached Community Board 1 on Tuesday with plans to wrap 36 tables and 70 seats around the exterior of his restaurant.
However, a group of neighbors from the Norwood Gardens Neighborhood Association voiced opposition to the plans on the grounds that it would add noise, congestion and trash to an already cramped corridor.
“I’ve been in Astoria for over 50-odd years and I’ve seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood – some are good, some are bad,” resident Phil Rovere said.
“You can’t stop change. However, the change that is being requested here is, I think, quite unbelievable,” he continued. He argued in particular that the proposed café would contribute to garbage that builds up on the sidewalks during the warm months.
Resident Patrick Comaskey said the number of tables on 36th Street would be “encroaching on our elderly residents up on top who’ve spent all their lives here, and now the golden years of their lives, cannot sleep at night because of the noisey café noise.”
“I’m all for progress, but let’s curb the ridiculous table placement,” he added.
Several other residents took the microphone to speak about, among several worries, the difficulty of navigating the sidewalks in a wheelchair past cafes, and a shared concern that Sorotos’ restaurant does not draw enough customers to justify an expansive outdoor space.
Following the testimony, Sorotos decided to withdraw his application for the outdoor café and to meet with the neighbors to guide a redesign of his plans. Board members applauded this announcement.
NGNA members also voiced their appreciation after the meeting.
“I’m happy with the outcome,” Comaskey said. “If this was the tradition, the neighborhood would be very happy.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, email@example.com or @JNStrawbridge.