By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | March 17, 2017
QUEENS — Two new stores recently opened and another has just been leased at the busy corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Austin Street — in what locals hope will reinvigorate the once-bustling business strip.
Several storefronts in the area — which is near Kew Gardens Cinemas and the Long Island Rail Road station — had been vacant for years or went out of business before the new business owners said they were determined to give it a try.
“This location is central to everything,” said Yuri Chunnulal, the owner of Print House NYC, which opened last month at 82-64 Austin St. Her store, which specializes in designing T-shirts and posters, opened where comic book shop The Comic Den was located for more than two decades before closing last year.
“It’s along the bus route and right next to the train station,” Chunnulal added.
Another business, Gotham West Realty, launched earlier this month at 80-60 Lefferts Blvd. replacing Misty Saloon, an e-cigarette store which went out of business last October after less than two years.
“I think that this is a good spot and I think people will be happy that we are here,” said owner Ron Cohen, noting that he is planning to remodel the store soon to make it more customer-friendly.
Cohen, who is also a volunteer EMT for the nonprofit Forest Hills Volunteer Ambulance Corps, plans to donate a portion from the proceeds of any sale in the area to the corps.
“I am so proud to be part of these two organizations,” Cohen said.
A storefront at 80-62 Lefferts Blvd. where bubble tea store Boba Juice used to be, before it closed along with Misty Saloon, has also been leased recently, according to the landlord, Harlington Realty.
A representative for Harlington declined to say what kind of business will open there but sources said that it would be a tea shop.
It’s still unclear if and when Corvina, a Peruvian restaurant planned for a storefront between Gotham West Realty and the former Boba Juice, will open. The eatery was hit with a number of setbacks after it turned out that the storefront had only electrical cooking equipment and no gas line, according to the Department of Buildings website.
Local residents said they were excited to see new stores in the heart of their neighborhood.
“The last thing you want to see here are empty storefronts,” said Anna Cruz, 45, an office manager who lives nearby.