STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Last July’s food fest by Port Richmond Strong was so successful, the civic group members have decided to throw another. The second chapter of the event will see a broader range of vendors, say organizers.
Port Richmond Strong encourages neighbors and food tourists to stop in at Veteran’s Park at Heberton and Bennett Streets on Saturday, July 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The goal: If visitors like what they taste and see, each can stay for dinner or a stroll down restaurant-rich Port Richmond Avenue.
“Last year’s event was one of the best day of the summer,” said Mario Buonviaggio, one of the event coordinators and leaders of Port Richmond Strong.
This year mingled among local vendors with soaps, scents, artwork, jewelry and vintage clothing will be setups by G’Knows Cheesesteaks, Cafe Con Pan and San Geronimo Bakery, to name a few eateries. Buonviaggio expects plenty of Mexican fare and a taco truck.
“The NYPD rock wall will be there, a face painter. There will be free ice cream. It’s supposed to be a great day. It’s a free event and we’re promoting all of our small businesses as well,” said Buonviaggio.
More long term, Buonviaggio and the Port Richmond Strong group have a vision for the historic strip, once the main shopping drag for the borough pre-Staten Island Mall.
“We have an aggressive agenda. In four to five years, you’re going to see a change if everyone rows the boat in the same direction. Port Richmond has been labeled as a victim state, that people are in dire need. That’s not the case,” said Buonviaggio.
Quite the opposite, in fact, according to him and broker Jose Matias of his eponymous real estate company.
He says buyers in the area are not investors but those going into home ownership.
Matias said, “The real estate industry is booming. Everything on the Island is above the asking price. I have my office right on Port Richmond Avenue. We have a lot of buyers coming in to specifically buy here. Everything is hot here now. We once had a great percentage of stores that are vacant. That’s no longer the case.”
Buonviaggio said, “We have two cleaners that go up and down the street six days a week. Summonses have dropped significantly from Sanitation because with keep the area clean. People are contributing to our civic association.”
He maintains that the section’s waterfront has enormous promise as well, a swath of land that at one time was site to a ferry service to New Jersey.
Pamela Silvestri is Advance Food Editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.