162nd Street in Flushing, my home base between 1993 and 2007, was bookended by two ancient and hoary taverns, the Velvet Cup near Northern and Paddy Quinn’s, near Sanford. Quinn’s is still hanging in as Paddy’s Tavern, but a number of businesses have shuffled through where the Velvet Cup used to be. Sharp-eyed observers on the LIRR can still see the sign, which was removed and placed on the building’s roof — I haven’t checked of late, but it may still be there. The Velvet Cup space is currently occupied by an outfit called the Boomerang Bar. Across the street at 162nd and Station Road was a large grocery where I would stop and pick up something for the evening, Milk Barn Farms. That is now the White Noise Coffee Co., where millennials freelance on their laptops (the old Scobee Diner in Little Neck also turned into one of these places). A similar outfit called Coffee Monster is a few doors away. Steve’s Coffee Shop, and the pizzeria next door, are there as they were in the mid-1990s.
I gather that people drink gallons of coffee per capita. I have one cup per year, at one relative’s house or another, during the Christmas holidays.
Nearby on Northern Boulevard was a full-blown Irish joint called Bridie’s, which baked their own soda bread. The Bridie’s space is now given over to the I Luv Luxury Room Cafe on the ground floor, with a Korean-language Presbyterian Church on the second floor.
I told parts of this story while accepting a Best Website Award from the Guides Association of New York in March 2015 but I’ll tell it again here. When I worked at Publishers Clearing House in the 1990s, there was an art director named Steve Molaro who I used to hitch a ride to the LIRR Port Washington terminal once in awhile. When I told him I was starting Forgotten NY, he let me have some software called Adobe Pagemaker, which I used for 5 years to create FNY pages. Our careers diverged wildly after that because Steve went on to be a big time Hollywood producer for the runaway hit Big Bang Theory. I went where I went.
I’m trying to confirm it but rumor has it that Steve and a couple friends once stumbled into the Velvet Cup back when it was open. Maybe the Big Bang Theory gang could stumble into an old man bar and see what kind of hilarity ensues.
(For some reason, my 162nd Street page from a few years ago is one of my most commented-on pages. I have no idea why.)