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Monahan &Fitzgerald marks 15th anniversary

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After 15 years of working to make their namesake Bayside restaurant a success, partners John Monahan and Jim Fitzgerald have learned to live a little, Fitzgerald said recently.

“At one point, we had a catering business, a pub in Flushing and this place,” Fitzgerald said, referring to the partners’ 41st Avenue success story, Monahan & Fitzgerald. “We were working seven days a week and you just can’t do that for long.”

These days the pair has earned the right to relax, but that does not mean the two slack off on the things Fitzgerald said makes their restaurant a success: quality food and customer service.

“We’ll do anything for the customers,” Fitzgerald said during a quiet afternoon at the comfortable eatery. “And we don’t cut corners in quality at all.”

That means fresh food — what Fitzgerald described as “a good, solid pub menu” — and making the patrons feel welcome.

“We’ve made so many friends through the years here, we’ve built up a good patronage,” he said. “It’s a giving business. To get things back you’ve got to give things.”

Giving things means everything from snacks at the bar to the restaurant’s current 15-year anniversary filet mignon special, Fitzgerald said.

“There’s been a tremendous response” because of the anniversary special, he said, describing himself and Monahan as hands-on owners who are always available to the patrons.

Monahan and Fitzgerald began as a catering team about 20 years ago, Fitzgerald said, but the two have known each other since they were children in Little Neck.

“We grew up playing ball together,” he said.

Fitzgerald learned the catering business after training with his uncle in Connecticut for a year and returning to Queens.

He and Monahan started a catering business in 1982, Fitzgerald said, and eventually branched out into JP’s Pub in Flushing.

The pair knew the owner of the building at 214-17 41st Ave., where Monahan & Fitzgerald’s is now located, and kept their eyes on the space.

“I always saw the potential” of the location, said Fitzgerald. The partners took over the building in 1987, he said.

What followed was a complete renovation of the former discotheque, Fitzgerald said, where he and Monahan opened up a large dining room adjacent to a roomy bar area.

The next year the two went to work on the building’s second floor and created a spacious, airy party room complete with a bar, a fireplace and skylights.

Though the Bayside restaurant scene is crowded, Fitzgerald said there has been a sense of camaraderie among the competitors.

“Bayside is a fabulous area,” he said. “That’s the good thing about Bayside — we all get along very well, even though we’re in direct competition. There are a lot of good business people here and it’s a fun area to have a business.”

The popularity of the party room, which holds about 75 people, has given Monahan and Fitzgerald the chance to continue the catering business which brought them together.

Fitzgerald said hosting small weddings, luncheons, christenings and wedding rehearsal dinners has made the restaurant a real part of the Bayside community.

Whether it is couples who have met at the restaurant’s bar and later return to hold their rehearsal dinners or former employees who come back for christening parties, Fitzgerald said, the business has established itself.

“That’s a sign of having been in a community for a long time,” he said.

Monahan & Fitzgerald, which hosts entertainment Wednesday through Sunday, is now on the Internet at www.monahanfitzgerald.com.

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

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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