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Renovated Doug Manor reopens with celebration

New owner Tommy Chan, a...

By Kathianne Boniello

There was a party going on at the newly renovated Douglaston Manor International Tuesday night as the restaurant and catering hall celebrated its official reopening under new ownership with several hundred people in attendance.

New owner Tommy Chan, a Fresh Meadows resident who runs another city concession in Flushing, toasted the crowd in Chinese after a brief speech that inspired rounds of laughter and applause.

Douglaston Manor uses city-owned land in exchange for fees, taxes and a certain portion of its revenue. The restaurant and catering hall has been at the intersection of Commonwealth Boulevard and Marathon Parkway since 1980. It shares the space with the Douglaston Golf Course.

City Comptroller Alan Hevesi accused the restaurant in November 2000 of hiding an estimated $526,000 worth of income from the city after a surprise audit conducted in April 2000. The restaurant, Hevesi said, failed to pay nearly $50,000 in fees on the allegedly hidden income.

Former owner Robert Santucci has disputed the amount of the debt and said in January he had settled his bills with the city agency. Chan took over the property in January.

But Tuesday night’s party focused on the future as several dignitaries, including Parks Commissioner Henry Stern and Deputy Mayor Rudy Washington, joined Chan at his opening night celebration.

Among the crowd, which Chan estimated to be between 350 and 400 people, were Richard Murphy, parks commissioner in Queens, and Estelle Cooper, parks administrator for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Jeff Rosenstock, executive director of Queens Theater in the Park, and Judy Limpert, vice president of North Fork Bank in Bayside and president of the Bayside Business Association, also joined in the fun.

Political hopefuls, such as borough president candidates Carol Gresser, former president of the city Board of Education, and City Council members Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis) and Helen Marshall (D-East Elmhurst), attended the opening.

City Council hopefuls Tony Avella, Bernice Siegal, David Weprin and Hiram Monserratte also joined the party.

Chan said that while the restaurant remained open in the two months since he took over, several renovations have taken place involving new kitchen equipment, painting and other projects throughout the hall, a new snack bar for the golf course and an expanded menu. All of the employees were retained, he said.

“Tonight is the official grand opening and reintroduction to the public,” Chan said.

Stern hailed the renovated Douglaston Manor International and the process by which Chan earned the concessionaire.

“It looks good,” he said as he surveyed one of the catering hall’s dining rooms. “This is a beautiful property. This concession was not awarded based on influence, or anyone knowing anyone — this was done through an open process.”

Cooper called the catering hall “wonderful” and said “we hope to make it a big success.”

Both Rosenstock and Limpert praised the renovated business as well.

“We’re excited because we know Tommy and I think he’s going to do a wonderful job,” Rosenstock said.

As she walked through the door, Limpert said she was curious to see how the place had changed.

“It’s beautiful,” she said, echoing the comments of many at the event.

Chan’s own employees offered kind words for the work their new boss has put into the restaurant.

Banquet Director Ray Esposito, who has been with the business for 15 years, said Chan had made “a lot of improvements.”

“He’s really trying to upgrade everything,” he said.

Harry Lam, head chef who has also been with Douglaston Manor for about 16 years, said Chan was motivated.

“I’m comfortable with the new boss,” he said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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