Aug. 12, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A popular Astoria restaurant has won an award for its outdoor dining setup, while an Open Street in Jackson Heights has also been celebrated for revitalizing a section of that neighborhood.
Blend Astoria, a trendy Latin American-themed restaurant located at 37-17 30th Ave., was named as having one of New York City’s best outdoor seating designs Monday by Alfresco NYC, a newly-formed coalition comprised of transit and public design groups.
“This neighborhood Latin American staple creates a fully outdoor experience, with seamless design and color coordination that significantly enhances the vibe at the corner of 30th Avenue and 38th Street,” according to a statement released by Alfresco NYC when it announced the award.
More than 11,000 restaurants across the five boroughs were considered for the inaugural Alfresco Awards and seven establishments were named as winners. Blend Astoria was the only restaurant in Queens to receive the award.
The awards recognize restaurants that add life to an area and redefine open spaces, according to Alfresco NYC. The owners of each restaurant will receive $500 in recognition of their design.
The Alfresco Awards also acknowledged exceptional Open Streets initiatives across New York City.
The group selected 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights as one of the top four repurposed streets among the more than 200 Open Streets in the city. The other open streets that were recognized are in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island.
The 34th Avenue Open Street, which goes from 69th Street to Junction Boulevard, is closed to traffic from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day (like most Open Streets) to make way for pedestrians and cyclists. Local traffic and deliveries are permitted.
The group that oversees 34th Avenue says the stretch has been transformed into a “dynamic linear street park.”
Jim Burke, the co-founder of the 34th Avenue Open Streets Coalition, welcomed the news of the award and said that the Open Streets initiative has provided Jackson Heights residents with much-needed open areas – noting that Jackson Heights lacks park space.
“We have exchanged pollution, noise and injuries for fresh air, tranquility and safety while building and strengthening our community,” Burke said.
“We are thrilled to receive the Alfresco Award as it celebrates our volunteers who work tirelessly day in and day out to enliven our streets with programming and keep our residents safe.”