Sept. 8, 2023 By Bill Parry
The crowd that gathered at the White Castle on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside on Sept. 7 weren’t there for the “cheesy sliders” deal, but rather to honor the memory of longtime neighborhood business leader John Vogt.
The corner where the White Castle sits was co-named for Vogt, who is remembered as a stalwart in the Sunnyside community, having been one of the founding members of the Sunnyside Shine BID and a leader of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce before he died last February at the age of 66 following a two-year battle with cancer.
Raised in Jackson Heights, Vogt got his first job at age 14 as a janitor at the now-shuttered White Castle location at 88-08 Northern Blvd. location in 1970. He spent his career at the company and eventually oversaw the locations throughout Queens as regional director of the New York region based in Woodside before he retired in 2014.
According to his wife Candida Vogt, the White Castle on 43rd Street and Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside was his “place.” Now, the corner outside the fast food joint bears his name.
“John Vogt was known and beloved by all in Sunnyside and I was happy to introduce the legislation to co-name 43rd Street and Queens Boulevard as ‘John Vogt Place’ at the White Castle where he dedicated his professional life,” Councilwoman Julie Won said. “John’s dedication to his community extended beyond White Castle, including his leadership roles at Sunnyside Shines and Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce. He lived life to build friendships, give respect to anyone and make memories wherever he served. Thank you to John Vogt’s family, Sunnyside Shines, White Castle and our community for helping us to honor his life and legacy.”
Vogt served as the longtime Board Chair of Sunnyside Shines, the local business improvement district he was instrumental in founding in 2007. In that position, which he held until his death, Vogt was instrumental in organizing popular neighborhood events such as the Taste of Sunnyside.
“John Vogt was an amazing man, a wonderful human being, and a great leader. He gave of himself to Sunnyside for decades, serving in a number of roles, always working to improve the community,” said Sunnyside Shines Executive Director Dirk McCall de Palomá. “He fought hard to bring resources to Sunnyside, to beautify the neighborhood, to promote our small businesses and to make sure Sunnyside Shines.”
Prior to the unveiling of the new street sign, several Sunnyside Shines officials shared their memories of the dynamic business leader.
“I am proud that Council member Julie Won was able to secure this wonderful co-naming in memory of John Vogt. ‘John Vogt Place,’ as this corner will be named, is also a place in our hearts,” said Sunnyside Shines Secretary Gerald Lederman. “He came to us from White Castle and hosted so many big community events here and it is fitting that we will have this sign to share his legacy with the greater Sunnyside community. He was an outstanding board chair, and he was able to find consensus in times of disagreement, to work with everyone in the community, and to lead us to a more beautiful community.”
Listening to the remarks inside the White Castle were his wife of 33 years and their children Nicole, Robert and Emily.
“John Vogt deeply cared about Sunnyside. He was enmeshed in the fabric of our community for over 20 years and was unfailing in giving his time, his energy and his talents,” Sunnyside Shines Treasurer Artie Weiner said. “He was one of the most inspirational and kind people I have ever known and I was proud to serve with him on the boards of Sunnyside Shines and the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce. John is greatly missed. His infectious laugh and joyous approach to life engaged people in our work, and we miss him terribly.”