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Astoria, Queens Residents Say Some Sidewalk Cafes May Bring Problems

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Outdoor tables at crowded cafes are a growing trend in a popular Queens neighborhood, but not everybody is happy about plans for sidewalk seating at one business.

As CBS2's Vanessa Murdock reported, a walk along Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria will turn up sidewalk seating everywhere – and many like it just fine.

"I love it," said Pat Roehrich of Astoria. "When I get home late at night, it's still bustling around here."

"Ditmars Boulevard is evolving into a very, a tourist-attracted area," said Florence Koulouris, District Manager of Queens Community Board 1.

Koulouris confirmed that more restaurants are opening, and more owners want to accommodate customers in the open air. She expects by year's end, nearly 200 establishments will be permitted to do so.

The Pomeroy, 36-12 Ditmars Blvd., may be one of them. On Tuesday evening, the board voted in favor of outdoor seating there, with four tables and a total of eight seats.

Some neighbors are not happy about it.

"The community is furious because it's run like a bar," said Nicholas Vagenas, owner of American Woodworking next door. "People are on the street till 2, 3 in the morning."

Vanegas showed CBS2 photos taken outside, with crowds of people hanging out on the sidewalk.

"They really don't take care of the outside or their patrons," Vanegas said. "They come out, they vomit on our doorways."

Vanegas said he was not the only one who felt that way. Owners at Magic Nail Design and Spa, Astoria NY Furniture, and the Fabric Center all signed letters of opposition addressed to the Community Board.

"Plus, we lose the sidewalk," Vanegas said. "We will not have room to pass."

Anna Pefanis, the manager of Martha's Country Bakery, said at first, some complained about the outdoor seating there – but not anymore.

"Now when they come as customers, they sit down; they enjoy it," Pefanis said.

Other Astorians who spoke to CBS2 seemed all for the Pomeroy getting the go-ahead.

"It's definitely going to be a little bit harder to get around, but I'm all for it," said Jacquelyn Diaz of Astoria.

"I don't consider them different than like the Australian place down there that has outdoor seating, so I think they deserve it as well," said Nimo Gandhi of Astoria.

Roehrich added that the width of the sidewalk on Ditmars Boulevard is not a problem, and she said sidewalk seats add flavor to the neighborhood.

A partner from the Pomeroy said the Community Board was reminded that in seven months of business, the restaurant has not generated any registered complaints with the board or the 114th Police Precinct. The partner said the only complaint was initiated after the application for a sidewalk café permit, and by an "agitator."

The city's Department of Consumer Affairs makes the final decision as to whether or not tables will sit outside the Pomeroy.

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