Queens kicks off inaugural borough-wide ‘restaurant month’



Courtesy of Queens Together

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

Participating restaurants in Queens invite people across the city to dine out on a discount during the borough’s inaugural “restaurant month.”

Throughout March, over 175 restaurants in Queens will offer discounts between 10% and 20% on meals to customers who purchase passes during regular business hours. But the twist is that in order to acquire a discount pass, a person must donate at least $25 to the Queens Together initiative.

A department within the nonprofit organization Queens Economic Development Corp., Queens Together launched in March 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic hindered restaurant operations. The group’s goals are to support the borough’s food businesses and to lessen the burden of food insecurity.

Donations collected from the restaurant month will be put toward Queens Together’s food relief fund. The organization previously used its fund to pay food businesses to prepare meals distributed to people in need and help restaurants pay their bills and workers.

“We saw an opportunity to promote the vibrant Queens culinary scene, raise funds for vital food relief and reward donors,” Queens Together Executive Director Jonathan Forgash said in a press release. “We can all do good, eat good and feel good during this first of its kind Queens donate and dine program in March.”

Several Queens-based organizations are sponsoring the celebration. They include the New York Mets, the Queens Tourism Council, the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., the Woodhaven Business Improvement District and Woodside on the Move.

Restaurant-goers have unlimited use of their discount passes, meaning they can use the pass multiple times at the same restaurant until March 31. 

The website in which restaurants could apply to participate noted that restaurants “may offer additional discount specials throughout the month,” but customers were instructed to ask their server.

Customers are encouraged to taste the diverse food options that the restaurants have to offer.

In its halal menu in Astoria, Cafe Turkiye offers traditional Turkish food, including baba ghanoush and börek. The restaurant is also collecting donations to provide relief for people devastated by the country’s earthquakes. In the same neighborhood, restaurant-goers may try West African food from Nneji.

In Corona, customers can expect an authentic Mexican flavor in the food sold from Evelia’s Tamales, which started as a cart on the street before leasing a storefront in January 2020. Even the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has had a bite.

In Jackson Heights, restaurant-goers can try food from Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, such as momos and shakam datsi at Himalayan Yak, as well as Michelin-rated Indian food such as pani puri and chana masala from Angel.

“Queens has the most diverse communities in the world, and one of the best ways to enjoy the countless cultures of this borough is through our food,” NYC Council Member Shekar Krishnan said in a press release, adding that the celebration will not only showcase local businesses but also raise money for food relief. “We can eat well while doing good.”