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Editorial: Restaurant should be a plus for Bayside

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In 1993, in response to the killing of an off-duty police officer on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, the State Liquor Authority adopted rules that would restrict the opening of an establishment with a liquor license within 500 feet of an existing establishment serving alcohol.

The change in rules, prompted by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), was clearly intended to stop the proliferation of clubs and bars on Bell Boulevard. The rule was never intended to stop people from opening a high-quality restaurant that happens to serve alcohol along with it meals. It should not be difficult for the SLA to agree to the opening of a new “fusion” restaurant on Bell Boulevard at the site of the former Bayside Quad movie theater.

The restaurant, which is tentatively called “39 East,” will feature French, Italian, Thai and Japanese food. It will be owned two people with a proven track record in Bayside: Dominick Bruccoleri, the owner of Papazzio’s, and Paul Lim, the owner of Erawan’s.

Unlike some of the watering holes and sports clubs, we have never heard of patrons leaving Papazzio’s in a drunken haze, looking for a fight, urinating on public property and, in general, ready to raise hell. To the contrary, Papazzio’s is a quality restaurant that draws upscale customers to Bell Boulevard. There is every reason to believe that 39 East will do the same.

A hearing was held last week to solicit public opinion on the new restaurant. The owners are asking the SLA to waive the 500-foot rule. The SLA will not make its decision until after May 30.

Opposition to 39 East appears to be thin. Most Baysiders know that the two restaurants involved have been responsible members of the business community. They also realize that there is a difference between a bar and a restaurant that happens to serve alcohol. Surely Sen. Padavan would agree that the bill he introduced was never intended to discourage this kind of establishment.

Like others in Bayside, we were saddened to see the Bayside Quad close its doors for the last time. This theater was a part of Bayside history. But clearly its time had come. Today that property is becoming an eyesore. At a time when the city is just beginning to emerge from a recession, Bayside is lucky to have quality entrepreneurs who are willing to invest here.

Unless someone can demonstrate that “fusion” food will be disruptive to the quality of life on Bell Boulevard, we see no reason to stop this restaurant from opening.

Editorial: No welcome mat for new OTB

Not every new business is a positive development. The residents of Fresh Meadows have good reason to oppose the opening of an Off Track Betting parlor on the Horace Harding. Although we are certain that there are quality people who place an occasional bet at the OTB, it’s hard to argue that the OTBs do not also attract a crowd that is, to say the least, undesirable.

It’s not that we are opposed to the OTB or other forms of legal gambling. If people are going to gamble, that’s their right and it makes sense that the city and state should get a cut. But we readily understand why any neighborhood would be reluctant to welcome a new OTB.

The OTB is one of those if-you-build-it-they will-come kind of places. Since this block of Fresh Meadows would rather the OTB go somewhere else, we hope it will.

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