Queens Together, a restaurant advocacy group launched in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, is encouraging New Yorkers to show their support for local cultural institutions, shops, and restaurants in Western Queens by purchasing a copy of its “KAD Passport,” an online guide to 15 of the very best attractions in Astoria’s historic Kaufman Arts District (KAD) – a bustling, diverse community steeped in filmmaking history, diversity, and of course food. (queenstogether.org; queenstogether.org/sales/food-culture-guide-kaufman-arts-district)
The KAD Passport serves as a guide to the neighborhood’s culinary and cultural institutions – from a performing arts high school founded by Astoria’s favorite crooner Tony Bennett and New York City’s only ukulele emporium to a host of restaurants, including Mexican cantinas and late night Desi kebab stands to a bistro featuring French crepes from Brittany and Astoria’s only Nigerian eatery. The guide was written and compiled by local food guru, tour guide, and author of “111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss,” Joe DiStefano.
Jonathan Forgash, Executive Director of Queens Together says, “This is home for me. I moved to Astoria in the mid-90s and immediately started doing craft service and catering for film and TV studios in New York City. For 25 years I worked in and around Kaufman Astoria Studios. They are an anchor in the neighborhood. Kaufman provides jobs, supports families, and sponsors events for all to enjoy. The District and its cultural and culinary institutions are living, breathing history. I’m excited to share it!”
“As Queens’ first cultural district, we have always banded together to support the arts and our neighborhood,” said Tracy Capune, President of the Kaufman Arts District Board of Directors. “Today, as many restaurants owners struggle in our district and around Kaufman Astoria Studios, we are happy to join Queens Together to promote and provide assistance to unique restaurants that you can only find in the Kaufman Arts District.”
The KAD Passport guide was made available last week for $20, just in time for Halloween/Day of The Dead/All Souls Day weekend. Proceeds will help Queens Together in its mission to support local restaurants and combat food insecurity across the borough.
Participants are encouraged to start their own KAD tours. First stop is the Kaufman Astoria Studios Main Gate at the corner of 35th Avenue and 36th Street. Guests are also encouraged to come in their Halloween/Day of the Dead/All Souls Day best and post an Instagram photo of themselves tagging @qns_together and @kaufmanartsdistrict and using hashtag #KADHALLOWEEN to be eligible to win a special mystery prize.
To make things even more interesting there’s an Instagram photo contest. To be eligible participants must tag their photos @qns_together and @kaufmanartsdistrict and using hashtag #KADHUNT. First prize is a food tour for four of Elmhurst or Flushing with Joe. Second prize is a ukulele and three lessons from Uke Hut. Third prize is a $100 gift certificate from any venue in the guide. Costume contest ends at midnight on Halloween. KADHUNT contest ends midnight November 1.
Please note: Participants are encouraged to explore and experience the district on their own in small groups while practicing social distancing.
About Queens Together: Queens Together provides the food industry of Queens with advocacy, education, income, savings, promotion and community service. They reimagine our local food industry as the engine for nourishing our communities with food and economic security. Queens Together offers support and income to food businesses, their workers and the local economy; builds partnerships with government, local organizations and volunteer networks; and provides food pantries, meals and services for people facing food insecurity.
About Joe DiStefano: Queens-based food writer, culinary tour guide and consultant Joe DiStefano has been exploring the borough’s diverse global cuisines for 20 years. He is the author of 111 Places in Queens That You Must Not Miss. His tours have been featured in The New York Times, Serious Eats, The Daily News, and The Wall Street Journal. His clients include Starbucks, the Boys Club of New York, Hormel, The Food Group, and Next Restaurant. Follow him on Twitter @JoeDiStefano and on Instagram @joedistefanoqns, just make sure to eat lunch beforehand!
About the Kaufman Arts District: The Kaufman Arts District (KAD), anchored by the historic Kaufman Astoria Studios (KAS), is home to a community of unique cultural institutions that support emerging artists. Founded by KAS, Museum of the Moving Image and Queens Council on the Arts, KAD spans 24+ blocks and serves to advocate for and promote arts in our neighborhood. KAD is Queen’s first cultural district. For more information, please visit www.kaufmanartsdistrict.org or follow us on Twitter @KaufmanArts, Facebook @KaufmanArtsDistrict and Instagram @kaufmanartsdistrict.