Locals gather in Woodhaven for turkey giveaway

Over 200 turkeys given to those in need

By Jessica Meditz

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Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol and the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club volunteered to help distribute the turkeys.

Last Friday, Nov. 18, residents of Woodhaven and its surrounding communities lined Woodhaven Blvd. to pick up turkeys just in time for Thanksgiving.

The Turkey Giveaway, held by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar and Zara Charitable Foundation, distributed around 180 turkeys to locals that evening.

Zara Charitable Foundation, which is committed to lifting up families in need around Queens and the world, purchased the turkeys to supply.

Civic organizations Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol (COPCP) and the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club (RHSOP) volunteered to help distribute the turkeys.

The event was the first of its kind public-private partnership for Assembly District 38.

Citing the 20 percent increase in the cost of turkeys this year, Rajkumar noted the importance of assisting her constituents at this time, so everyone can have a worry-free and blissful Thanksgiving.

“Thanks to the Zara Charitable Foundation, we are able to provide so many families with the Thanksgiving that they deserve, and it has been a priority of mine to handle food insecurity coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic and with unemployment,” she said.

Following Friday’s giveaway, Rajkumar and her team secured 36 additional turkeys to distribute to constituents, making it well over 200 turkeys given away.

On Saturday, Rajkumar co-sponsored the NYPD Desi Society’s Turkey Giveaway in South Ozone Park.

On Monday, she partnered with the Richmond Hill-South Ozone Park Lions Club and local businesses for a turkey giveaway at Sofia’s Pizza, and donated 10 turkeys to the Parents Association of PS 254Q, who will distribute them to members of the school community.

She will also partner with the American Pakistani Advocacy Group for a Halal turkey giveaway Wednesday, November 23 at 108-19 101st Avenue in Richmond Hill at 3pm.

“Now more than ever, constituents need turkeys, and I’m happy to supply that. In the past two years, we’ve been serving our constituents in so many ways, through food drives and giving away so much — this is just one part of that,” she said.

Maspeth Starbucks files for union

Employees participate in national strike

By Jessica Meditz

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Employees of Starbucks’ Maspeth location participated in a strike outside the store.

Maspeth’s only Starbucks store, located inside the Shops at Grand Avenue, has become the third one in Queens to file for a union election with Workers United NY/NJ, the independent union representative of Starbucks Workers United.

Fifteen of the location’s 16 employees signed union cards, as well as penned a letter to Starbucks’ president and CEO, Howard Schultz. In their efforts, they join fellow workers from 30-18 Astoria Blvd. and 22-28 31st St. in Astoria as Queens locations to unionize.

In their letter, the employees claim they have experienced mistreatment from managers and district managers, that they are understaffed, underpaid and not given enough hours to work.

“Concerns have been voiced over and over again during our time with Starbucks. However, no changes have been made whatsoever, which is why we have decided that unionizing is our best and only option at this point,” the letter said. “We are the ones who run your stores, we are the ones that do our best to treat the customers with kindness and warmth, and we are the ones who can make your sales happen, yet we are being treated as if we are not the ones who are the reason this company still stands along with your customers.”

Last Thursday, Nov. 17, employees of the Maspeth Starbucks store joined fellow Starbucks workers within Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Long Island, as well as over 110 locations across the country, in Red Cup Rebellion, a national unfair labor practice (ULP) strike.

The strike took place on the same day the company gave out red cups with the purchase of any seasonal drink, and called on Starbucks to “begin bargaining in good faith and fully staff all stores.”

Employees of the store gathered outside at 7 a.m. to demonstrate, and handed out Starbucks Workers United branded cups to passersby.

Employees of the Maspeth Starbucks participated in a strike outside the store on Red Cup Day, giving out Starbucks Workers United cups.

“I think the most important thing that motivated people to be here today in this weather was the misbehavior from our district manager. She is very manipulative and has always been condescending to her staff,” an employee named Azim, who requested his last name be omitted, said.

“This is not the feeling in just this store. If you go to any of the Starbucks in this district, I think everybody would resonate with that.”

Azim has worked at the Maspeth Starbucks for three years, and has been with the company for a total of seven.

He added that people’s schedules often get rejected, and folks aren’t working enough hours to pay their bills, and that the store is quite short-staffed, with claims that there are sometimes just two employees working the floor during the busiest rush.

Another employee, Kelly, who also requested her last name be omitted, said that being located across the street from Maspeth High School causes the busy rush hour in the morning, making the job much more difficult while being short-staffed.

“We should not be told by DMs that we should move up in the company for more money if that is what we need, that we need to motivate partners not to call out or pick up more shifts than scheduled, and proceed to compare our work with other fast food workers,” the employees said in the letter to Schultz. “We should not be told that our pay is more than enough compared to others when at the end of the day, we are still at only a dollar and change above minimum wage.”

Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment with regard to the Maspeth location.

Back in April, Starbucks’ Reserve Roastery located at 61 Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, Manhattan, won their union election, becoming the first flagship store to unionize with Starbucks Workers United/Workers United.

The location has been striking for over 20 days after the company failed to provide information regarding confirmed reports of bed bugs at the store and to set a bargaining date to have workers’ needs met.

According to data from More Perfect Union Action, a registered District of Columbia 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, workers at 345 Starbucks stores in 39 states have filed to unionize.

Those workers follow in the footsteps of employees of Starbucks in Buffalo, N.Y., whose Elmwood Ave. location made history as the first unionized Starbucks location in the country.

Starbucks employees are demanding that the company meet with them to improve standards in staffing and scheduling, along with other bargaining proposals, such as for workers to have the ability to wear union gear on the clock, no dress codes, and a commitment to non-discrimination.

Zum Stammtisch celebrates 50th anniversary

Iconic German eatery serves Glendale for 50 years

By Jessica Meditz

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Zum Stammtisch’s comfortable interior. Photo: Zum Stammtisch.

Known for its hearty meals, fresh beer and comforting ambiance, Zum Stammtisch on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale is a neighborhood staple.

The well-loved German restaurant first opened its doors in November 1972, marking half a century of operation this month.

Zum Stammtisch was founded by John Lehner, who emigrated from Freising, Bavaria, Germany in the 1950s, along with two partners.

It was always Lehner’s dream to have his own German restaurant, as his father had a small establishment he took pride in back home.

After much dedication and hard work, Lehner found it rewarding to see his restaurant become a hub for the large German population that resided in Glendale. Within 10 years, he bought out his two partners, and became the sole owner of Zum Stammtisch.

Since Lehner’s death in 1993, his two sons, Werner and Hans, continue to keep the family business alive as co-owners.

Werner, Erna (mother) and Hans Lehner inside Stammtisch Pork Store. Photo: Zum Stammtisch

Werner Lehner, the eldest of the two, said that while many restaurants feel the need to change with the times, Zum Stammtisch prides itself on staying original and old-school.

“We do have some specials now that would be what you’d call a little more Americanized, like shrimp cocktail or prime rib. But we try to keep the same style of food, the same everything,” Lehner said.

“Back when we first opened, it was a very German neighborhood; everybody on the streets spoke German,” he continued. “Now, it’s almost like the UN out there, everybody’s different…which is great because instead of just having one type of clientele, you have everyone.”

Zum Stammtisch keeps things traditional in a multitude of ways, as seen by their waitresses in dirndl dresses and German specialties on the menu, such as goulash soup and Jägerschnitzel, a breaded veal cutlet served with a fresh mushroom sauce.

But the thing that truly makes the Zum Stammtisch experience different is the interior decor, which features a dimly lit atmosphere, stained glass windows, vintage artifacts at every glance — from German newspapers to beer steins — and even a large moose head on the wall to keep you company as you dine.

The Lehner brothers have taken steps to experiment with the establishment over the years, such as opening Stammtisch Pork Store & Imports in 2011, which is located right next to the restaurant.

The Pork Store offers authentic German meats and delicacies to its patrons, including fresh wurst, cheeses, salads, breads, chocolates, dairy products and more.

Lehner said that while all the standard sausages, such as bratwurst, krainerwurst and knockwurst, come from the Pork Store, the team switches things up with their “Weekly Wurst.”

“When we make our own, we try to make them a little more interesting…we make habanero mango bratwurst, which everyone really loves, we make Philly cheesesteak sausage, currywurst and even teriyaki pineapple,” he said. “It’s nice to have the place next door so we can experiment a little bit and bring different things over to the restaurant from there.”

In terms of beer, Zum Stammtisch keeps things simple with just five beers on tap: a lager, a dark beer, a weiss beer, a pilsner beer and a seasonal beer that is available as a novelty.

“We tap the kegs almost every day…there’s never a keg on there more than a couple of days,” Lehner explained. “It’s always extremely fresh.”

Many community members admire the dedication to quality that Zum Stammtisch offers, and have made it a regular part of their celebrations and feel-good moments. This is true for Gillian Guile, a Glendale resident.

“I have been going to Zum Stammtisch for as long as I can remember. My favorite memory was my family’s annual trip there for my Oma’s birthday every August. Her birthday was never complete until we went to Zums,” she said. “I was also lucky enough to celebrate my 21st birthday there before COVID with my friends and family. Prost to 50 years of great food, service and gemütlichkeit.”

The phrase “Zum Stammtisch” roughly translates to “to the special table,” and the team’s efforts have stayed true to its name for the last 50 years.

Lehner said that he’s had countless special memories in the restaurant over the years, but some of his favorite ones come from World Cup celebrations and watch parties, which are just around the corner.

Zum Stammtisch is a great place to watch the World Cup. Photo: Zum Stammtisch.

“It’s always a ton of work, but it’s always so satisfying to see the place so packed with so many people having a good time, as well as people you haven’t seen in a while,” he said.

It is important to the Lehners to continue serving the community for years to come, and keep German culture and traditions alive.

“Back in the old days, if you were German, you went to a German restaurant, if you were Italian, you went to an Italian restaurant,” he recalled. “I feel people have become much more adventurous, looking for new experiences. As old-school as we are for a lot of people, we are definitely a new experience.”

CB5 gives thumbs up to Glendale street conversions

DOT conducted area-wide study

By Jessica Meditz

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Since late 2021, residents of Glendale have advocated that a select few streets in the neighborhood be converted from two-way to one-way.

They started a petition in favor of conversions of the streets, citing their 30-foot width with parking on both sides — making it difficult for cars to fit while driving in both directions and thus, causing sideswipes to occur.

In response, Queens Community Board 5 requested the Department of Transportation (DOT) perform an area-wide traffic study, from Myrtle to Cooper Avenues, and from 60th Lane to Cypress Hills Street.

Following their investigation of the area between January and June of 2022, the DOT recommended the following: that 60th Lane be converted to one-way northbound operation from Cooper Avenue to 75th Avenue, 75th Avenue to one-way eastbound operation from 60th Lane to 64th Street, 64th Street to one-way southbound operation from 75th Avenue to Cooper Avenue and 64th Place to one-way northbound operation from Cooper Avenue to Cypress Hills Street.

Eric Butkiewicz, chairman of CB5’s Transportation Committee, said that when the DOT presented their findings to the committee at a recent meeting, it was clear to them that the proposed north-south conversions are the right choice for the area.

“We didn’t find any significant impact on traffic flow, while also giving the residents what they’re looking for and seemingly reducing the risk of sideswipes and other accidents,” he said.

Butkiewicz noted that there was more debate among the committee in regard to the conversion of 75th Avenue to one-way eastbound operation from 60th Lane to 64th Street. The conversion of this street was not included in the initial petition started by locals, rather, was added by the DOT.

The committee was informed by the DOT that around 250 cars per hour, at peak hours in the morning, travel westbound on 75th Avenue. Therefore, if the street were to be converted to one-way eastbound traffic, those 250 cars would be rerouted to Cooper Avenue.

“This raised concerns in the committee that by routing 250 cars per hour to an already congested Cooper Avenue could pose severe problems, because Cooper Avenue is incredibly narrow also,” Butkiewicz said. “The concern is that we’re just going to take this problem, put it somewhere else and still be stuck with the same problem.”

As a result of the discussion, the vote was a six-to-six split for the conversion. Although it did not pass, Butkiewicz said the committee members who voted against the conversion of 75th Avenue committed to keeping a close eye on it going forward, recognizing the issues it faces.

On Nov. 9, CB5 held their monthly public meeting, where the whole board voted on the proposed north-south street conversions that were voted unanimously in favor by the Transportation Committee.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the north-south conversions with the acknowledgement that they will not recommend the eastbound conversion at this time, but will continue to monitor 75th Avenue and make changes if need be.

The Transportation Committee will pen a letter to the DOT with their decision, and it is ultimately up to them to take action and implement the conversion.

The DOT informed them that it could be a year-long process to put up the signs that would make these proposed streets one-way.

Locals show support at Queens Veterans Day Parade

Glendale resident honored as grand marshal

By Jessica Meditz

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Ret. U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Schottenhamel of Glendale with his wife, Deborah. (Photo: Walter Karling)

The Queens Veterans Day parade stepped off in Middle Village on Sunday after a two-year hiatus — where hundreds of spectators turned out to show their support for all those who served.

The parade, organized annually by the Queens Veterans Day Parade Committee, started on the corner of 80th Street and Metropolitan Avenue, where TD Bank is — and continued along Metropolitan ending at Christ the King Regional High School with a commemorative ceremony.

The event sets out to encourage community engagement through the common appreciation for the work of veterans, along with the opportunity to make local veterans feel supported and valued.

That support was seen by all the local residents who participated in the parade — those who marched behind the veterans and those cheering on the sidelines alike.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul J. Schottenhamel was selected as the parade’s grand marshal.

Born and raised in South Richmond Hill and a Glendale resident since 1975, Schottenhamel was sent to Vietnam as a young soldier in 1969. He was eventually transferred to the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam and Cambodia until he was wounded.

Upon leaving active duty in ‘71, Schottenhamel served in the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York Army National Guard. Fifteen years later, he was transferred to the US Army Reserve, where he spent 11 years with the 1150th US Army Reserve Forces School at Fort Hamilton.

With 29 years of service under his belt, he retired in 1997 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and has been awarded numerous awards for his service in the military.

Schottenhamel expressed the honor he felt by being selected as grand marshal, along with the gratitude to be among so many young veterans in the audience that day.

“One of the great things about doing what I’ve done with my life is that I’ve gotten to work with young people when I was wearing the uniform and coming up through my 29 years,” he said. “It’s really important to me; I got to meet a lot of great people.”

Schottenhamel reflected on his life after active duty and how rewarding volunteer work is for him — working at the telephone company and volunteering in the Telephone Building after 9/11, serving on the 104th Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP) and being active in local veterans organizations.

In addition, 104COP was presented with the Anthony G. Pace 2022 Humanitarian Award for the service they’ve provided to the community since 1976.

104COP’s volunteers regularly patrol the streets within the confines of the 104th Precinct with their own personal cars and report all emergencies to the proper authorities.

“It’s a great honor to serve as the president of the organization and to hear from the community how much you are appreciated,” Elizabeth Delacruz, president of 104COP, said. “It gives us a bigger incentive to continue doing the work we do, which is serving the community as the extended eyes and ears of the 104th Precinct.”

Local elected officials — both past and present — discussed the importance of paying tribute to veterans and supporting them in every way possible.

Congresswoman Grace Meng and Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar both expanded on the legislation they are helping to work on that will benefit veterans.

Meng noted the VA Regional Office Accountability Act, which would hold regional offices accountable and ensure they are processing claims and being responsive to veterans. She also helped secure funding for veterans’ medical care, among other resources.

Serving on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rajkumar shared that she supported a bill to make benefits for veterans more accessible to them. She also has a bill to expand public housing for veterans and another to make military training transfer into educational credits.

“This is only the beginning of my work for veterans that I’m proud to do every day,” she said.

Inspired by his father who came home with PTSD and disabled after serving in WWII, Councilman Robert Holden strives to be the voice for veterans who may feel they don’t have a voice themselves.

As chair of the City Council’s Veterans Committee, Holden advocates for affordable and adequate housing for veterans, as well as more accessibility to services.

Former NY State Senator Serphin Maltese, who is a Marine Korean War veteran, congratulated Schottenhamel and 104COP for their service and dedication to the community.

He emphasized the fact that many veterans who served in WWII and those who served alongside him in the Korean War are slowly aging and passing away, and deserve to be honored, along with Iraq War veterans and those who served in other capacities.

“It is important to the Middle Village, Queens County and American communities that we continue to acknowledge the sacrifice,” he said. “They fought, and in many cases died, to make America free and the land of opportunity and to provide a future for our children, grandchildren and descendants.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards reminded the crowd of the sentiment that “freedom is not free.”

He reflected on his recent visit to Ukraine and noted how many people pay the ultimate price, and those of us here should not take freedom for granted. He made it known that his office is always open to veterans in need.

“On Veterans Day, we are reminded that even through our political differences, it is because of [those who served] that we can have those differences,” he said. “Everyone owes [veterans] a great debt of gratitude.”

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