Hot Dog!

Interstate Bakeries opts to keep Jamaica factory running, retaining hundreds of jobs

Interstate Bakeries opts to keep Jamaica factory running, retaining hundreds of jobs

Crain’s New York

Hot dogs won’t lack buns in Queens

By Hilary Potkewitz

Published: February 22, 2009 – 5:59 am

Residents of Jamaica, Queens, can sleep soundly. Their buns are staying in the oven.

After emerging from bankruptcy early this month, Interstate Bakeries Corp. wasted no time in trumpeting the glad tidings: Its Jamaica factory, the city’s largest maker of hot dog rolls, will remain open. The century-old plant on 268th Street and Douglas Avenue has about 350 full-time and more than 100 part-time workers. Its products are made under the Wonder Bread and Nature’s Pride labels.

“This was extraordinary news for us,” says Richard Werber, director of the business services group at the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. “We want to hold on to those manufacturing companies, because generally speaking, their jobs pay far better than retail jobs and provide a clearer and higher ladder for advancement.”

About 70% of the plant’s employees live in Queens, according to GJDC data. Kansas City-based Interstate filed for Chapter 11 in 2004. It has closed several facilities in the Midwest, eliminating hundreds of jobs.

Though the Jamaica plant isn’t Interstate’s most advanced facility, New York is one of the company’s largest markets, so keeping production here made sense, according to Interstate.

As a bonus, New York ranks No. 1 in the nation’s top 10 hot dog-eating cities, buying about $113 million worth of franks a year, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council’s most recent survey. That’s not surprising, given the Big Apple’s multiple sports arenas, Coney Island’s Nathan’s Famous and an army of street vendors.

Queens also has bragging rights in that Shea Stadium beat out other Major League Baseball venues in the all-important hot dog sales standings, the council says. Mets fans ate more than 2 million dogs—with buns—last season, barely six miles from Interstate Bakeries’ cargo bay.


How Clean is That Restaurant?



January 31, 2009
Diners to Get a Quick Guide to Cleanliness

For the first time, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will compel the city’s nearly 25,000 restaurants to publicly post inspectors’ cleanliness ratings, which have previously been available only online or at the department. Rating signs, to be supplied by the city, will be required to be visible from the street, either in a restaurant window or vestibule.

The agency also plans to switch to a letter-grade system similar to that used for years in Los Angeles (using the letters A, B and C for passing inspection grades). The new rules, which will be part of a broad revamping of inspections, will be put in place over the next two years, giving restaurant operators time to comply.

The department said that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed off on the program as part of the executive budget announced Friday. He has scheduled a Saturday news conference to announce the new procedures.

“We expect this will improve our inspection program,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the city health commissioner. “It will encourage restaurants to be cleaner and inform people so they can make better choices about where to eat.”


Bay Terrace Ben’s Deli – Lease Extension

Bay Terrace Ben's Deli Lease Extended

Bay Terrace Ben's Deli Lease Extended

Victor Mimoni reports in the Queens Courier that a lease extension between the Bay Terrace Ben’s Deli and Cord Meyer Development is a done deal. The lease extension will allow Ben’s to remain at their current location in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center.

Panera Bread, which was going to take over the Ben’s location has agreed to instead occupy space that was formerly home to FedEx-Kinkos and Camelot Home Furnishings. Hopefully this saga is now finished.

The Cafe wishes Ben’s Deli continued success and welcomes Panera Bread to the neighborhood.

Caffe on the Green Looking to Expand


Caffe on the Green Looking to Expand

According to an article in the Daily News, Caffe on the Green will be renamed Valentino’s on the Green and is looking to expand.

“I don’t know what to expect,” said Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty, who is worried about possible expansion on the site. “The other restaurant worked well and didn’t hurt other businesses.”

Kolaj said the group has numerous partners, including affiliates of Famous Familigia restaurant, the operators of the World’s Fair Marina restaurant. Well-known chef Don Pintabona will act as a consultant.

“We are hoping to expand and add a brunch fare,” Kolaj said.

New operator tapped for famed Queens restaurant


From Crain’s New York:

January 05, 2009 3:23 PM
New operator tapped for famed Queens restaurant

Site is the former mansion of Rudolf Valentino, Fiorello LaGuardia and others.

The city’s Parks & Recreation department has tapped a new operator to run the popular restaurant in the Bayside, Queens mansion that was once the home of silent-film star Rudolph Valentino, and later, of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia. The current occupant is Caffe on the Green.

Beginning February 1, Friendship Restaurant Group—a new joint venture between Famous Famigilia Pizzeria and Usha Holdings—is expected to take over the site located alongside Clearview Golf Course. Usha operates another city-owned property—World’s Fair Marina Restaurant on Flushing Bay—as well as 26 other restaurants in the city, according to the Parks Department.

Caffe on the Green lost its contract with the Parks Department in June after a city audit questioned whether the owners, Merissa Restaurant Corp., were reporting all of the restaurant’s revenues. The restaurant generates nearly $5 million a year and has been run by Merissa since 1992. Published reports linked the restaurant to a mafia figure, Joseph Franco.

On Tuesday, the Parks Department will hold a public hearing to formally announce the new concessionaire and to take comments from the public.

Friendship Restaurant Group will be expected to make capital improvements to the building and grounds of the eatery, including installing environmentally friendly appliances. The three-story restaurant, can accommodate up to 400 guests and has views of the Throgs Neck Bridge and Little Neck Bay.

Caffe on the Green


Caffe on the Green - The former home of Rudolph Valentino

The following full page notice appeared in the January 1st, 2009 edition of the Queens Courier:

Effective Thursday, January 1st, 2009, Caffé on the Green will cease operations and will not reopen at this location. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York City of Department of Parks, has decided to prematurely terminate our license agreement unjustifiably and without cause.

In this time of such high financial uncertainty, the city and its lack of responsible judgment and shortsightedness, has placed our employees into an uncertain and stressful position, facing unemployment, and the loss of their future pension and health care benefits.

We are sure the community remembers what an abandoned dangerous eyesore this property was prior to Caffé on the Green’s transformation into the beautiful venue it is today.

Caffé will be relocating locally, and hopes to be up and running again soon with our present family of staff. Our website,, will always be available and will keep you posted on our future plans. As our faithful clientele, you will always have the option to sign up for our mailing list by clicking on the link Constant Contacts.

Caffé on the Green is grateful to our many loyal customers who have supported us for the past 17 years and were instrumental in creating the success that we are. Least we forget our dedicated staff who made it a reality.

On behalf of all of us, THANK YOU,
we look forward to serving you again soon


Caffé on the Green

We’ve Got Ben’s


It’s been reported that Ben’s Deli will be staying at their present location in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. This should come as good news to many of Ben’s loyal customers who were upset at the loss of a Kosher Deli in the community.

Maybe Ben’s can repay customers for their continued patronage by undertaking some badly needed renovations. They may also want to address concerns that the quality of food being served has deteriorated over the years.

Here at the Café, we wish Ben’s the best of luck and look forward to their being part of Bay Terrace for a long time to come.

Below are photos of the Ben’s Deli in Boca Raton, Florida.