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Joanne Choe. Click on image to view enlargement.

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Ms. Chloe with one of her assistants, 21-year-old Lauren Day. Click on image to view enlargement.

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Kew Gardens Merchants - The Bliss Café

[This is the first in our series of profiles of the men and women who make up our commercial and retail community and who play such an important role in making Kew Gardens a vibrant place to live.]

It took Joanne Choe, the owner of the Bliss Gourmet Café , less than 10 minutes to decide to purchase the restaurant when it came up for sale two years ago. The Bliss is located at 82-60 Austin Street next to the Long Island Rail Road station.

"I loved the location and when I walked in, I said to myself, 'his is so pretty. This is for me,' " said Ms. Choe who with her former husband once owned a delicatessen on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, but who had never before run a restaurant.

She puts in long hours-the café is open from 6.30 a.m. until 7.30 p.m. daily-but her enthusiasm hasn't flagged. In fact, she is thinking of extending her closing time until 9 p.m. or later with the help of her staff of seven.

Everything served at the Bliss is home-made, from soups to specialties like chicken with orange sauce, Egg McBliss, a scrambled egg dish, Bliss Burgers, and egg salad sandwiches which are among the most popular items on the menu.

Her busiest hour is early in the morning as commuters on their way to Manhattan stop by. Although most of her customers are local residents, some of the train passengers who see the café from their windows as they ride by are so attracted by what they see, especially by the outdoor dining and display of hanging flowers during warm months, that they come back as customers, Ms. Chloe said.

Bliss has become a European-style café with daily papers and magazines available for patrons, as well as a small library. Customers also come in to work on their computers while sipping their latte or cappuccino or the other 15 plus flavors of coffee that are available.

Every few months the café is opened up for poetry readings that attract as many as 50 people at a time so that there is standing room only. It also functions as an occasional meeting place for community groups who want to discuss special issues in an informal setting. And on Halloween, Christmas and on Thanksgiving Ms. Choe throws a party for her regular customers. How many cafes can match that?

Earlier Articles:
  •   Kew Gardens Lights Up for the Holidays
  •   Queens Borough Hall Garage in Kew Gardens
  •   The House on 116th Street
  •   New Development in Kew Gardens
  •   Autumn Scenes in Kew Gardens
  •   Lantern Festival at Maple Grove Cemetery
  •   They Lift Up their Voices Every Friday