Oct. 6, 2023 By Michael Dorgan and Paul Frangipane
Small business owners and local residents joined Council Member Julie Won in Sunnyside on Thursday, Oct. 5, to celebrate a launch party for a popular annual restaurant crawl.
The crawl, known as The Taste of Sunnyside, sees hundreds of attendees go door-to-door to sample food and beverages offered by more than 50 participating local bars and restaurants. The event, which takes place on Oct. 15, aims to showcase the diverse restaurant mix of the neighborhood and has proven to be an important day for local small businesses. It is organized by the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID).
The bars and restaurants will be setting up stands in front of their establishments for ticketholders to sample their cuisine.
Thursday’s launch party took place at QBK Sports, an indoor beach volleyball facility, as well as a sports bar and large lounge area, located at 41-20 39th St. The purpose of the event was to promote the upcoming crawl and to help people network.
Dirk McCall de Palomá, the executive director of Sunnyside Shines, said this year’s crawl is expected to be the biggest in its 13-year history with tickets in high demand.
“This year we’re selling 900 tickets, it’s a little bit bigger than it was in the last few years, it gets a little bit bigger each year,” McCall de Palomá said. “We sell out a week before every single year.”
McCall de Palomá said there will also be live music, including four roving bands, a local artists’ exhibition and a block party under the Sunnyside Arch for the first time. A live DJ will play music throughout the day while attendees can also capture the moment at a photo booth at the location.
“This year we’re having an arts component; we have five areas with art where we’re having people vend art on the street and a few participating venues,” McCall de Palomá said. “It’s going to be music, it’s going to be art, it’s going to be food.”
Establishments participating in the Taste of Sunnyside will serve a variety of cuisines, including Italian, Japanese, Peruvian, Filipino, Indian, Turkish, Mexican, Colombian, Romanian and Thai.
Some of the participating establishments include regular favorites like Senso Unico, Sotto le Stelle, Riko Peruvian, Tito Rad’s Grill, Elio’s Ice Cream and 43 Bar & Grill. There will be many newcomers too, including Limena Pisco Bar, a Peruvian joint, City Tamale, a Mexican restaurant, and Kaprichos, a Colombian fast food eatery.
Small businesses represented at last night’s launch party included Pete’s Grill, an American restaurant, Chiddy’s Cheesesteaks, specializing in cheesesteaks, Cool Beans! Coffee shop, and Sweet Avenue, a craft beer bar.
David Moundros, the owner of Pete’s Grill, said the event brings significant value to small businesses.
“It’s a good way to bring the neighborhood together,” Moundros said. “I think it’s one of the best days, everybody looks forward to this. I hear customers sitting down in the restaurant eating saying, ‘I can’t wait for the Taste of Sunnyside.’”
Last year’s gathering was sold out, with more than 800 people taking part, up from 500 in 2021. This year, organizers are hoping to get close to 1,000 participants.
Won, who represents the neighborhood, implored residents to spread the word about the event.
“It is so incredibly important, it’s going to take every single one of us posting online and telling all our friends and neighbors to make sure that we are visiting our small businesses,” Won said.
“The last thing we want to see is another beloved local business close down, but that is only going to be prevented if we’re making sure that our money is staying in our local economy, that every single dollar that we make, we bring it right back to our neighbors that live here.”
“It’s really neighbors supporting one another.”
Ticketholders will be required to check in for the event at either Lowery Plaza, located at 40th Street and Queens Boulevard, or at 46th Street and Queens Boulevard. Both locations are situated under the elevated 7 subway train and workers will provide ticketholders with a map containing recommended routes to follow on the crawl.
There will also be two trollies available to bus all attendees to the establishments. One of the trollies is ADA-accessible and can transport anyone in a wheelchair.
Tickets can be bought online here.