Archive for October 2012

Astoria Social Media//Halloween 2012 Flash Contest

FLASH: The first person to answer the question below correctly is our winner.* Tweet your response to @TracyInfield. Good luck!

This shot was taken in front of Kaufman Astoria Studios on a wicked hot day in July 2011.

 Which production is it from?

A: Nurse Jackie: Game On [Showtime]

B: Sesame Street: When Muppets Attack [PBS]

C: Zombies: A Living History [The History Channel]

D: Next Caller: Dead on Arrival [NBC]

E: M*A*S*H: Dead Reckoning [TV Land]

* Winner gets to choose the subject of the next Astoria Social Media//Profile post!

Name the business you’d like to see profiled (it can be your own) and I’ll get in touch with them to see if they’re interested in participating. If yes, it’s on!

Note: Profile subjects must be located in Astoria and present (preferably active) on at least three social platforms, eg: a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, foursquare, yelp, etc.

Astoria Tweep Appreciation Day

No particular reason why I decided today was Astoria Tweep Appreciation Day at Astoria Social Media… although a few things helped: One was this gorgeous photo I clicked on (very early) this morning from a tweet by @astoriafication:

@Astoriafication’s early AM Instagram

Now THIS is a great way to start the day. Thanks, @astoriafication!

…. Then a few minutes before (or after) I’d seen this, I’d clicked on a couple of links from Queens Love:

[Click on the above screenshot to go to their profile and see the images yourself: A (typically) mouthwatering photo from Bradley Hawks, and a striking image of the NYC skyline (and friend) from Joe DiStefano.]

So I just basically started my day loving Queens in general and Astoria (always) in particular…

… In other Astoria “tweep” news, Sac’s Place reached 1,000 followers yesterday. I know they’re happy and grateful to their followers, and I think their large following is well deserved. Check out the random screenshot below and you’ll see why:

Why such an enthusiastic following? 1) Their tweets are not always promotional. Yes, there’s plenty of “Mama made…”s and order info, but they also opine about other, non-Sac’s Place topics, including local sports, animal welfare, and local goings on. 2) They’re generous with RTs and shares. 3) They appreciate their followers and 4) They ALWAYS thank you for RTs.

Sac’s Place’s tweets have a point of view, a personality, and a generosity that I like and admire, so here’s a big ASM shout out to them:

Sac’s Place: You’re awesome. I appreciate you. Congratulations on your 1,000+ follows.

Here are a few other things I appreciated in Astoria Twitterdom today. I don’t follow everyone below (I have a convoluted system of follows and lists that even I don’t understand), but nonetheless these Astoria peeps are all on my radar and I appreciated the following tweets:


OOPS: I read this as “calorific” and took it as permission to have an extra-big breakfast:

I appreciated this because I always appreciate links to my blog:

This guy is on my radar because I believe he’s opening a restaurant on Ditmars soon (where Mezzo Mezzo was). Frankly most of the tweets from the account are pretty promotional… but occasionally a kitchen tip is featured, and that’s nice:

PLUS: Here are two “evergreen” favorites: I pretty much always like tweets from @weheartastoria and @QueensNYCity.

And…. @nyc8675309: How best to publicly appreciate “J-La?” Not a business, not an organization… but a major part of my Astoria Twitterverse: yenta, mayor, psychic … a generous RT’er and all-around interesting tweep. She’s the reason I know what “.” before “@” means on Twitter…. what to order at Seva (when I try it again) … what cheese to get at Sorriso Salumeria… on and on and on.

Thank you J-La, Sac’s Place, Astoriafication, and all the other Astoria “tweeple” who make my Twitter feed so fun, informative, and fulfilling.

Astoria’s 5-star reviews: 10/13-10/20

In this week’s edition: Find out which of our dentists is a “Root Canal Ninja” … Whose sandwiches are so good that even Astoria’s finest park illegally to get one … And whose ingredients are so fresh, one Yelper suspects they have a hidden farm and ocean in the back. [Spoiler alert: Congrats to Liao Kenneth DDS, Sal, Kris, & Charlie’s Deli and Taverna Kyclades for the devotion and creativity of your reviewers.] —Tracy Infield

10/19/12 babyNOIR 26-16 23rd Ave
“Had to purchase a gift for a friend’s child one day and decided to check this place out. For a guy you can imagine how annoying of a task this was, but everyone was so helpful so I was in and out very quickly. Very pleased!”—Mike D., Astoria, NY

10/12/12 Aliada Restaurant 29-19 Broadway


TWO 5-star reviews on 10/13/12 American Eye Care 38-03 Broadway

Homemade Taqueria is a “great choice!” Photo via their Facebook page

10/12/12 Homemade Taqueria 45-09 34th Ave

“Delivery took FOREVER (nearly an hour and a half, but it was a Friday night) but the food was amazing! We’re from California and were missing great Mexican food. We decided to try a new place tonight and saw they had good reviews and another person from CA said it was good so we gave it a shot… great choice!”—Kasey G., Astoria, NY

10/13/12 Liao Kenneth DDS 37-14 28th Avenue

“I would brand him the ‘Root Canal Ninja.’ He’ll execute them with deadly precision.
 Two thumbs up from me.”—Richard W., Flushing, NY

THREE 5-star reviews: 10/13 (2) and 10/17 Quinn Florist 3524 Broadway

“Manny was just brilliant in understanding my vision and executing it perfectly. He is so knowledgeable and really has an artistic vision and creativity for what he does.”—Chloe G., Astoria, NY

10/13/12 Rosana’s Beauty Salon 28-33 Steinway St

“Being Brazilian myself and after 6 years searching for a salon in NY that provides a real Brazilian Keratin Treatment, I believe I can say I finally found one!… If you need a treatment from Brazil, go to Astoria and to a Brazilian salon to do it! … Oh, and I get to do some delicious Brazilian grocery shopping on my way back at Rio Market ;)”—g.g., Brooklyn, NY

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/18 & 10/19/12 Sal, Kris, & Charlie’s Deli 33-12 23rd Ave

“You know it’s good when you constantly see people illegally parking outside WITH the vacant cop cars that are also illegally parked, all trying to get themselves a yummy hoagie.”—Judy C., Long Island City, NY

THREE 5-star reviews: 10/14, 10/16 & 10/17/12 Taverna Kyclades 33-07 Ditmars

“Try the Kyclades special dish for about $30—brings a little bit of everything with lemon potatoes and the free dessert at the end just great.”—Fred M., Bronx, NY ••• “It is like they have this hidden farm and ocean hidden in the back and they are growing or grabbing the next best piece of everything.”—Dannielle G., Sunnyside, NY ••• “There’s a good reason why this place is always packed…”—JiaJia S., Happauge, NY

10/14/12 Cavo 42-18 31st Ave

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/13 & 10/17/12 Christos Steak House 41-08 23rd Ave

The making of fresh chestnut pasta at Ornella Trattoria Italiana.
Photo via their Facebook page

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/19 & 10/20/12 Ornella Trattoria Italiana 29-17 23rd Ave

“The service at this establishment is impeccable… The last time I was served this well was on a cruise ship. The food was superb and their unique signature dishes are a nice change of pace.”—Steve M., Jersey City, NJ

10/14/12 Ezbins 34-13 38th St

“EZBins was really great—came to drop off and pick up my bins right on time, and the sturdy plastic bins made moving a lot easier. They are really responsive too—they are starting to manufacture smaller bins for books and other items that are too heavy for the larger bins…”—Eden S., Manhattan, NY

TWO 5-star reviews: both 10/14/12 Astoria Bier and Cheese 34-14 Broadway

“This place is class and quality by the pint and plate… my favorite newcomer to the neighborhood right now, hands-down.”—Christian P., Astoria, NY ••• “Very friendly, great music. All around a great night and wonderful place I will be back for sure!”—Levi P., Astoria, NY

10/16/12 El Rey Del Taco Truck #2 31st St and Ditmars

10/16/12 Mad Donkey 32-07 36th Ave

Rodney from the Vespa Queens service department, straight shootin’ on the telephone. Photo via their Facebook page.

10/16/12 Vespa Queens 37-43 Crescent

“There are two people here that are awesome. Stele, because she’s eager to answer any newbie questions you may have. Very patient and not pushy with any “upselling.”

 Rodney—the service manager. He’s a straight shooter, no BS. Friendly & honest service.”—Andy H., New York, NY

10/17/12 An Qi Gong Tui-Na 38-07 Broadway, 2F

10/17/12 International Meat Market 3612 30th Ave

10/18/12 Antika Pizzeria 36-08 30th Ave

10/19/12 Fatima’s Halal 2525 Broadway

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/14 & 10/20/12 Michael Angelo’s Pizzeria 29-11 23rd Ave

10/15/12 Seva 30-07 34th St

TWO 5-star reviews: both 10/15/12 Tu Casa Restaurant 30-10 Steinway

THREE 5-star reviews: 10/14 & 10/15/12 (2) Il Bambino 34-08 31st Ave

“I’d heard so much buzz about this place that I came with really high expectations. And they were met…”—Cristina A., Astoria, NY

10/18/12 Arepas Café 33-07 36th Ave

“The discovery of this tiny joint in the backstreets of Astoria marks a turning point in my life in terms of Arepa consumption. I think I may need to seek help because I’ve become an arepa-holic.”—Chris K., Flushing, NY

10/20/12 Buon Appetit Deli Catering 36-12 Ditmars

10/20/12 Sac’s Place 25-41 Broadway

“Oh my goodness, is this good. My g/f and I were looking for a new Italian restaurant to go to and came upon this online. We went for a pasta dinner and it was amazing… 

Plus the owner is sweet, welcoming and the staff is very nice and attentive. They even gave us free apples for their orchard.”—James F., Forest Hills, NY

Astoria businesses: If you get a 5-star review, please share your good news. Email tinfield@hotmail.com or tweet me @TracyInfield. Hope to see you here soon!

Astoria’s 5-star reviews: 10/6-10/13

In this week’s edition: Astoria Bier and Cheese makes its Yelp debut with 5-star reviews, and The King of Falafel‘s six-bang review (!!!!!!) narrowly defeats Favela‘s (“Top rate caipirinhas!!!!!”) … You’ll get all kinds of tips on ordering wisely at Trattoria L’incontro, Jasmin Lounge and Villa Brazil Café Grill … And find out why the WiFi goes out at The Queens Kickshaw at 6pm. (I’m not sure it’s the official version, but if true it is an excellent reason.) —Tracy Infield

Help them reach 100! Astoria Bier and Cheese starts strong with 5-star reviews and a great leap in Twitter follows. [First tweet: 10/2]

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/5 and 10/10/12 Astoria Bier and Cheese 34-14 Broadway

“I have already been there twice and absolutely love the place. It has a great vibe, great service and will make a ton of money because it is a cheap bar, essentially, that allows you to try their beer and take it home if you like it. Try this place out, I assure you, you won’t be disappointed!”—Clayton M., Astoria, NY

“My favorite thing about this place is that it is not a restaurant—you can grab a beer from out of the fridge and sit in peace with friends drinking it. No waitress service which some people might have to get used to – but it creates a more relaxed experience…
Or! You can head here before having your own party and stock up on an impressive variety of cheeses and unique beers. Excellent.”—Melanie E., Manhattan, NY

La Bottega Astoria, via their Facebook page

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/4 and 10/5/12 La Bottega 40-17 30th Ave

“After months of construction La Bottega opened in Astoria… I went in tonight for the first time and let me tell you TOTALLY worth the wait…  I could only finish half of the panini and half the salad—great because I have lunch for Friday.”—SL, Astoria, NY

10/5/12 Rotana Hookah Place 25-51 Steinway

10/7/12 Antika Pizzeria 36-08 30th Ave

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/7 and 10/11/12 King of Falafel 30th St & Broadway

“Some of the best Falafel around fresh and a Great price.
 I just love it!!!!!!”—paul t. Astoria, NY

10/7/12 Malagueta Restaurant 25-35 36th Ave

10/6/12 Natura Spa 31-78 Steinway

10/8/12 Dillingers Pub & Grill 46-19 30th Ave

“It’s been over a year since I first went to Dillinger’s for brunch, and now I’ve been there about half a dozen times… 

I guess the first time I went to Dillinger’s it was kind of an off day, because every subsequent return has been pretty damned enjoyable.”—Paul D., Astoria, NY

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/8 and10/9/12 Ezbins 34-13 38th St

“The reusable box rental is a great idea—I’m actually surprised I hadn’t considered using a service like this before. I got enough boxes for a studio move and loved not having to deal with carrying huge cardboard boxes on the train, using tape, or getting rid of boxes after unpacking… I’m hoping not to move again for a while, but I’d definitely use EZbins again.”—Kate D., Brooklyn, NY

10/9/12 New York Bakery 32-06 30th Ave

10/13/12 Studio 31 32-07 31st Ave

TWO 5-star reviews: Trattoria L’incontro 10/8 and 10/9/12

“Don’t order anything off the regular menu, wait for the endless list of specials from your waiter.”—Dmitriy S., Long Island City, NY

10/9/12 Villa Brazil Café Grill 4316 34th Ave

“They charge by the weight of your platter so don’t fill yours up with the cheap stuff… Tip—According to my friend, don’t go on Wednesdays because the man behind the grill is off. Some other guy works that day and he doesn’t man the grill as well as the other dude.”—Gary L., Forest Hills, NY

10/9/12 Sac’s Place 25-41 Broadway
“They use very fresh ingredients on their slices. Buffalo mozzarella and large pieces of basil.”—Joyce C., Long Island City, NY

TWO 5-star reviews: both on 10/8/12 Vitality & Health Natural Market 46-03 Broadway

“It’s truly wonderful to go here. Everything is delicious and the staff is super helpful and fast. I go here at least once a week. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.”—Roselyn G., Astoria, NY

10/9/12 The Queens Kickshaw 40-17 Broadway

“Good food, quality coffee, lovely ambiance, friendly service, fantastic prices, and WiFi—all in one happy, pristine little package! (Side note on the WiFi—it turns off at 6pm—’cuz no one should work past six. That’s drinkin’ and socializin’ time!)”—Katie R., Astoria, NY

10/10/12 Jasmin Lounge 25-50 Steinway

“Most people like to have green tea cuz it’s soothing which is fine but the best thing to have with hookah is by far cold juice… which gives a nice cooling effect down your throat.”—Neha M., Downtown Flushing, NY

10/10/12 Allure Skincare & Laser Center 33-04 31st Ave

“I went in for a photofacial today and left very happy. The treatment felt a little like rubber bands snapping against my skin but Valerie gave me such an amazing facial massage after that, that I almost fell asleep.”—Adrianna T., Brooklyn, NY

10/10/12 Via Trenta 36-19 30th Ave

10/11/12 Favela 33-18 28th Ave

“Top rate caipirinhas!!!!!”—Cee K., Long Beach, NY

10/10/12 Rosario’s Deli 2255 31st St

“Love this place! Their mozzarella cheese is the best I’ve ever had. Everything is very fresh and the people that work there are very friendly. If you are in the area and want a great sandwich, I highly recommend Rosario’s.”—Jessica M., East Elmhurst, NY

TWO 5-star reviews: 10/10 and 10/12/12 Il Bambino 34-08 31st Ave

“The food here makes me emotional it’s so delicious… Words are not enough for this place. I can’t wait to go back and try the breakfast panini which my friends rave about. Genius.”—Melanie E, Manhattan, NY

Astoria businesses: If you get a 5-star review, please share your good news. Send notice to tinfield@hotmail.com or tweet me @TracyInfield. Hope to see you here soon!

Astor Bake Shop// George McKirdy

When it comes to running a business and promoting it on social media, Astoria business owners face a tricky logic problem:

Photo: Aleks Z. Photography

Example: George runs a successful bakery-cafe. He pours all his time and energy into it—happily, because this is his passion. He’s on the move 24/7—shopping, baking, managing staff, and more. In order to help his business thrive, however, George must ALSO spend time promoting it on social media—sending Instagrams to his Twitter followers, writing about specials on Facebook, checking his reviews on Yelp, and more. Question: If George has a full-time job—running a bakery-café—how does he handle another, often time-consuming job: managing his social media?

Since I started this blog in May, I’ve been wondering how small business owners deal with social media. How do you manage to run your business (whether it’s a bakeshop, a hair salon, or a retail store) AND keep up with the demands of social media engagement? How valuable do you think is to your bottom line? How much time do you spend on it? What are the platforms you’re most comfortable with, and which do you think work best for you?

Recently I put these questions to George McKirdy, chef-owner of Astor Bake Shop on Astoria Boulevard. George told me he had only a moderate interest in social media for its own sake, but he keeps up with it because he knows it’s important for his business. Case in point: There was a stretch of time recently, over the summer, when he got caught up in other things—and his social media output fell off. “Customers mentioned it. They said they hadn’t seen anything new from me for awhile.” It’s hard for George to say whether it was just summer downtime or lack of social media engagement; but business slowed.

Conversely, he says, when he posts a photo of fresh cakes coming out of the oven (or savory lobster potpies), people come in and ask for them. Thanks to the immediacy of Twitter and Facebook, he can post these specials and people know exactly how fresh they really are. [Well, most do: One woman came in looking for a lobster pot pie several days after she saw it on Facebook and was dismayed to realize they were long gone. The whole “Get ’em while they last!” deal is real, thanks to this Twitter/FB immediacy.]

Photo: Aleks Z. Photography

In the Q&A that follows the “Digital Profile” below, George acknowledges that he’s a little hazy on some of the finer points of some platforms and simply doesn’t have time to fully invest in others. But for a super-busy business owner who’s learning as he goes, he’s doing a great job of figuring out what works best for Astor Bake Shop.


BUSINESS WEBSITE Astor-Bakeshop.com

FACEBOOK Astor Bake Shop: Joined 5/28/10. 1,054 Likes • 65 talking about this • 873 were here

TWITTER George L. McKirdy @ AstorBakeShop: 315 tweets • 178 following • 293 followers. Favorites: Yes • Lists: No • Recent images: Yes. Custom background photo: Yes, of The Queens Courier  “Best of the Boro 2012: Best Bakery” award

YELP Astor Bake Shop: 4 stars. Of 135 reviews: 40 5-stars • 49 4-stars • 24 3-stars • 17 2-stars • 5 1-star

PINTEREST Astor Bake Shop: 7 Boards • 5 Pins • 3 Likes • 33 Followers • 75 Following

FOURSQUARE Astor Bake Shop: First check-in: 2010. Total people: 583. Total check-ins: 1,759. Mayor: Jason B. (Yes, George knows the Mayor: “He’s a very regular customer.”)

FLICKR Astor Bake Shop’s Photostream. Joined Aug 2012

LOCAL BLOG (& TRADITIONAL MEDIA) LOVE Recent mentions in Queens Love, We Heart Astoria and Why Leave Astoria?!  Featured in BORO’s “2012 Restaurant Guide Issue.” Named one of the top 5 burgers in Queens by George Motz in Edible Queens. Voted “Best Bakery” in The Queens Courier’s “Best of the Boro 2012″

[Digital snapshot taken Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:30pm]

Photo: Aleks Z. Photography


Do you like spending time on social media? Or do you feel it takes away from your ‘main’ job?

“If I had nothing else to do I’d love it, but it is a job within itself when using it for business. I try to make my post and get off the site so I can get back to more demanding tasks.”

Which one is your favorite forum?

“A while ago I would have said FB and Yelp. Now it’s FB and Instagram.”

Which social platform came first, or did you start them all together? 

“FB came first, but as a personal page that I morphed into a business page once the business was opened. (I had a Myspace page too, but rarely used for personal use and never for business). Then came the website then Twitter. Then Yelp, foursquare and Flickr.”


“I try to at least make a daily effort to check our FB page. If I can get something noteworthy up, I’ll take a photo and write up a few words—as often as possible. Lately I’ve been posting a lot of photos to Instagram because they’ve made it very easy to link my other social media (Twitter, FB, Flickr, foursquare), so with one Instagram photo I cover more social media platforms.”

Twitter isn’t George’s favorite forum, but he does an excellent job of keeping followers up-to-date on “Get ’em before they’re gone!” seasonal specials

George on TWITTER:

“Twitter always seemed vague to me. Little blurbs that you always seem to have to investigate more or be privy to some inside info to know what people are referring to. The original format with the lack of pictures wasn’t much help either.”

George on foursquare:

“I first got onto foursquare because of a guest who came in and turned me on to it about a year ago. I haven’t really kept up with it and am a little vague on some of its functions.”

Here’s a look at ABS’s foursquare photo gallery. There are currently 76 photos and 33 tips.
[Tip from Mayor Jason B.: “Breakfast is thoughtfully served until 5pm. Not all of us are up by 11. :)”]

Astor Bake Shop gets a lot of love from local bloggers.
Shown here is a photo from a Queens Love blog post by Bradley Hawks, who calls the Astor Burger “arguably one of the most delicious in the whole city.”

George on PINTEREST:

“I just signed on to Pinterest in May, after receiving an invite from my sous chef. Really don’t know enough about it to comment. I’m still not an avid Pinterest user, though if I could learn more about it I might be. Time constraints…”

George on YELP:

“It took me a while to complete our Yelp profile. I didn’t have the free time and didn’t want to rush through it and make mistakes. I’ve responded to both good and bad reviews, but focus more on responding to anything negative.” Have you gotten any feedback that has helped you improve your business? “Absolutely.”

George on YOUTUBE: Any thoughts or plans?

“I’d love to post short cooking clips or some of our food events on it, but haven’t made the time to add ‘filming’ to my to-do list.”

Many thanks to George for taking the time to discuss his thoughts on social media with me. (And for being brave enough to be the first Astoria Social Media// Profile subject!)

Thanks, too, to Astoria-based photographer Aleksandra Zganiacz. For some really gorgeous, truly artsy photos of our area, see the “Gallery-New” page of her website at www.AleksZphotography.com.

For further reading about Astor Bake Shop and George’s professional background, check out Nancy Ruhling’s excellent interview with him in “Astoria Characters: The Celebrity Pastry Chef,” published a few weeks after he opened the shop in June 2010.  

Have a favorite Astoria business you’d like to see interviewed for a future Astoria Social Media//Profile? Please let me know! Suggest a business via Twitter (handle: TracyInfield) or email me: tinfield at hotmail.com.


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