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"You can’t love something from afar"
A beloved Cuban spot closes and a recommended long read #53
When I worked at DNAinfo (RIP) we had a recurring feature that I felt captured New York City: Openings & Closings, which you might be able to guess was about restaurants and other businesses.
I preferred the Openings. Everyone was full of hope and promise and excitement. The Closings, of course, were usually sad – the rents went up or someone was moving or died.
Good or bad, though, each story told a city story that usually went beyond just food. I thought that this week as I wrote about Rincón Criollo, which will close its Junction Boulevard location to relocate to Long Island by the end of the month.
The restaurant has its roots in Cuba, when two orphaned brothers opened a restaurant that ended up becoming a destination with live music and live animals for kids. After it was seized by government officials in 1962, those brothers made their way to Queens. And in the 1970s they opened Rincón Criollo – which was the name of their restaurant in Cuba – on a stretch of Corona that had been a haven for people homesick for Havana.
“Every time I walk around I get emotional,” Esther Acosta, who took over her family’s restaurant in 2011 with her brother Rudy, told THE CITY. A number of factors lead to their decision. Their rent went up, they weren’t doing as well as before the pandemic, there were parking issues for customers, and other quality-of-life concerns, she said. They found a location in Garden City that they can buy, with ample parking, and a chance to try and recreate everything out there.
It’s been a bittersweet few weeks since they announced they were leaving Queens, with lots of people stopping in to say goodbye. And she had a message for anyone who loves restaurants in New York City: “Go visit your local mom and pops because if you don’t, there are no longer going to be mom and pops.”
Read the full story here.
💫 Also this week, I helped out on a story about a soccer league protesting the city’s use of Randall’s Island to create shelters for asylum seekers. The catch? The league’s commissioner happens to be in charge of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.
💫 And I spoke with Todd Maisel about the NYPD’s dangerous decision to encrypt its radios – shutting out journalists and the public from the chatter. “It's bad for the public, it's bad for checks and balances, it is a real problem.”
🌟 Other interesting stories:🌟
A judge has “permanently” banned a Medicare Advantage switch for city retirees [THE CITY]
A painting studio, a dark room, custom bookshelves? I loved finally getting a look inside this beautiful home in Jamaica Estates, which stands out from the others in a good way [CURBED]
JACQUES AND AWE! The city’s budget director pulls a lot of strings – more than just the purse strings. [POLITICO]
Finally, this Jennifer Senior cover story for The Atlantic was beautifully written and reported, a personal story that weaves in the history of how people with developmental and intellectual disabilities have been treated. I cried at work reading it so beware.
"When I first discovered that my mother had a younger sister, I reacted as if I'd been told about the existence of a new planet." This isn’t the most touching line in the story but it sets up Senior’s search to know her Aunt Adele and other people like her, and to discover what could have been done if she was born during a different time.
Thanks for reading!