Jan. 30, 2023 By Michael Dorgan
A trendy new Japanese and Latin-themed bar/restaurant has opened on a busy street corner in Astoria.
The new establishment, called “Agenda,” opened Saturday at the intersection of 31st Street and Newton Avenue, near the 30th Avenue subway station. The owners have taken over a 13,000-square-foot, ground-floor space that previously housed Don Coqui, a well-known Puerto Rican bar/restaurant that closed in 2020.
Agenda is co-owned by Victor Sanchez, 53, and is being managed by his wife Natasha Collado, 43. They are both originally from the Dominican Republic and also operate two other bars/restaurants—one in Manhattan and the other in the Bronx.
The Astoria venue, located at 28-18 31st St., specializes in craft cocktails—with the cuisine inspired by a fusion of Japanese and Latin flavors.
Collado said the eatery will have an official grand opening in March once the food menu has been finalized. For the coming weeks, Agenda will only serve drinks and finger food, she said.
Agenda, once it is up and running, will offer dishes such as filet mignon, lobster and branzino dishes mixed with Japanese sauces. There will also be sushi, as well as cocktails mixed with flavors from Latin America and Japan.
The presentation of the food and drinks will be a major feature of the business, according to Collado. For instance, the eatery’s steak tomahawk will be served up with a flame, while the cocktails will also be stylishly presented.
“We want our customers to be our number one promoters, meaning we want them to pick up their phone and take pictures even before that cocktail or dish gets to the table,” Collado said.
“We also want to create experiences not only with images but also with ambiance, taste and flavor.”
Saturday’s soft opening featured a DJ playing bachata-style music, a genre of music that originated in the Dominican Republic. Videos posted by the business online show a long line outside the premises with a big crowd inside.
The operators, Collado said, chose a Latin-Japanese concept to be new and different. Collado said she is very familiar with Japanese food and says it blends well with Latin offerings.
She said that there is a gap in the market for the concept in Astoria and when the restaurant space became available, they saw it as a sign from God.
“We are both very religious and believe God puts things across your way for a purpose,” Collado said. “We took it for a blessing.”
The owners spent about a year refurbishing the inside of the premises. They have put in new upholstery, new lighting and new ceilings. There are also many vertical screens that can show digital artwork that can be switched to change the look and ambiance of the premises.
Collado said the new eatery is affordable to local residents. The operators aim to cater mostly to adults, but the restaurant will be family-friendly nonetheless, she said.
Collado said they aim to provide a high-end Manhattan experience just at a lower price point.
“The aesthetics are beautiful, and the food will be amazing,” Collado said. “It will be affordable but different.”
Collado said the couple is excited to be opening another business and the duo considers America as the land of opportunity.
“We came from very humble beginnings and came here when we were children, Collado said.
“We are regular people that are doing the right thing and setting examples that by working hard, you can fulfill the American dream.”