Finding the hidden gems of NYC (so you don’t have to)

By Alicia Venter

[email protected]

Zaire Stanislaus loves to keep herself busy. Nursing school and her full time job scheduling at Mount Sinai would be enough to ensure the 29-year-old has a full schedule.

However, beyond her 9-to-5 and labs, the Brooklyn-native is a restaurant marketer and restaurant influencer, managing the social media platforms of New York City restaurants and collaborating with businesses to produce content for more than 125,000 of her Instagram followers @drinklinknyc.

Her job includes staying on top of trends, constant video editing, late night collaborations with restaurants and keeping an eye on other content creators to ensure she stays unique and different. As a social media manager, she runs the accounts of restaurants, including Social Corner and Cove Caribbean Restaurant in Jamaica.

“People think you just go out to eat, and that’s it, but after creating 100 videos, it gets hard to stay creative, unique and different,” Stanislaus said. “You have to really think outside the box so your videos don’t all look the same.”
Stanislaus starts her job before she arrives at the restaurant, scouring their websites for what appears to be their most popular food, or what she feels her audience may like best. It’s not always what she wants to eat, she explained — it’s what she thinks her audience would want to eat.

“Once I get there, I’m trying to execute the idea in my head, not just a random recording,” she said.

Using this process, she explained, creating content is easier and creates a better product for her followers.

Stanislaus’ parents are Trinidadian, and she is very connected to Caribbean culture, so she often features Caribbean food on her page. However, as she grew up eating the food in her home, she acknowledges that her favorite type of restaurants are steakhouses and Thai restaurants.

“The idea of going out and paying more money for things my mom makes is a little weird,” she shared.

Trust, she emphasized, is an indispensable part of her product — without it, her followers are unable to rely on her content. As such, she refuses to post content at restaurants she did not truly enjoy.

“I feel like that is terrible for your brand, it messes up the trust that everyone that follows you has with you, because [they think] that you’re only posting things for you,” she said. She feels that if her followers are going to trust her to spend their money on restaurants she features, she has a burden to ensure that it isn’t money wasted.

Stanislaus also builds relationships with the owners, so if people do not have a good experience visiting the restaurant, she can help them reach out to the owners to find the root of the problem.

“Especially nowadays, restaurants are expensive. You can go out and randomly try restaurants and it’s horrible, and you’ll be so upset that you spent money. I think that with pages like mine we can rectify the situation,” Stanislaus said.

Stanislaus loves to discover hidden gems — stunning places that are not yet well-known or popular. Recently, she visited Room 100 in East New York, off the Jackie Robinson Parkway. Tucked away between car shops and mechanics, Stanislaus was happy to share her spectacular experience with her followers.

“When you walk in, it’s beautiful. It’s small, but it’s designed really well. The staff are friendly and the food is amazing — it’s truly a hidden gem,” she said.

Stanislaus’ day starts at 8:00 a.m., grabbing her i-Pad to make her to-do list. The morning is a balancing act between work for her remote job at Mount Sinai and her clients whose social media accounts she manages. She works on her own page starting around noon, and her afternoon usually involves a collaboration with a restaurant. On Saturday, Stanislaus usually does two or three collaborations.

“I feel like to stay driven or motivated, you have to actually enjoy what you are doing,” she said. “I don’t find it to be a tedious or hard task. Going to restaurants is fun, but creating content is what I truly enjoy…I feel like if you enjoy doing that part, it would never really feel like a job.”

Stanislaus grew up in East New York, and currently lives in Canarsie. She hopes to open a restaurant or lounge in the next five years. A self-described “serial-entrepreneur,” Stanislaus also hopes to grow her personal brand and to reopen her clothing boutique.

Stanislaus is always open to new clients looking for a social media manager, and encourages any restaurant or brand to reach out to her at [email protected]or on her Instagram.

Walker Funeral Home Recognized by New York State

By Ed Wendell

The original location of Walker Funeral Home, which moved to Woodhaven in 1912. In those days you could rent cars from Walker’s, kept in their garage on nearby Forest Parkway. Today, this is the Law Offices of James Rooney.

Many years ago, if you were looking through the pages of this paper you would see numerous ads for funeral homes in Woodhaven.

There was Brome Funeral Home (later Kaiser & Koos) on Woodhaven Boulevard; J.P. Eldridge on 78th Street; Kennedy Funeral Home on 86th Road; C.H. Thompson (later Walsh & LaBella) on 87th Street; Shalins Funeral Home on Jamaica Avenue near Forest Parkway; and N.F. Walker on Jamaica Avenue.

Today, Walker stands alone as the only remaining funeral home in Woodhaven. One by one, all of the rest of the funeral homes went out of business and shut their doors.

In recognition for their longevity, Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. recently notified Walker Funeral Home that they have been added to the New York State Historic Business Preservation Registry. He presented Funeral Directors Paul and Annmarie Rudolph with this award at a recent WRBA meeting.

Walker Funeral Home’s story begins in Brooklyn in 1898 when Nathaniel Francis Walker opened on De Kalb Avenue. His business was so successful that he opened up a second location on Jamaica Avenue with his son N. F. Walker, Jr.

In Walker’s early days in Woodhaven it also doubled as an Auto Service where you could hire cars by the day from their garage near Forest Parkway. This was pretty common for funeral homes in those days as they would rent their vehicles out when not being used for funeral processions.

Walker was located at a location that all of you will recognize. With its distinctive marble front, the Law Office of James Rooney at 86-07 Jamaica Avenue stands out from every business around them and was Walker’s home in Woodhaven starting in 1912.

In the window of Rooney’s Law Office is probably one of the most well-known clocks in Woodhaven, one that hundreds of people pass by and glance at every morning on their way to work.

Walker Funeral Home was successful from the start and the director, N.F. Walker Jr., became a very active and beloved figure in Woodhaven for over half a century. For example, he was a founding member of the Woodhaven Patriotic League during World War 2.

He managed a Rest Center for the American Red Cross during WW2, a place where people could go in the event they were bombed out of their homes. Accommodations for over 150 people were set up under Walker’s direction at the Forest Park Reformed Church 86th Street and 86th Avenue.

N.F. Walker Jr. served on the Board of Directors of Columbia Savings Bank in Woodhaven and his face was featured in the pages on the Leader-Observer many times over the years.

Eventually, they needed larger quarters and in 1942, N.F. Walker Jr. built a brand new modern facility at 87-34 80th Street where they are still in business today – the last funeral home standing in Woodhaven.

Paul and Annmarie Rudolph holding a certificate given to them by Senator Joe Addabbo, noting that Walker’s Funeral Home has been added to the New York State Historic Business Preservation Registry.

If you’ve been doing the math, it means that Walker’s (which opened in 1898) will celebrate its 125th year in 2023. It has been doing business in Woodhaven for 110 years. And it has been doing business at its new location on 80th Street for 80 years. And the Rudolph Family took over the funeral home nearly 40 years ago, in 1983.

That’s quite a history and well deserving of the recognition bestowed upon it by Sen. Addabbo and New York State. Congratulations to the Rudolph family, Paul Sr. and Jessie, Paul Jr. and Annmarie.

NF Walker Funeral Home’s services are affordable and you can also arrange direct cremations. They are also adept at handling funeral services from many different cultures and religions – Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. You can call Walker Funeral Home at (718) 296-4343 or email them with questions at [email protected].

On a final note, on Friday, December 16th, the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society is sponsoring “A Woodhaven Christmas Carol,” an evening candlelight walking tour of Old Woodhaven Village complete with Christmas Caroling at specially selected spots.

We start gathering at Neir’s Tavern (87-48 78th Street) between 5 and 6 p.m. with a departure scheduled for 6:30. We will make our way to Pop’s Cocina at 86th Street and Jamaica Avenue and end up at Geordie’s Joint at 80th Street and Jamaica.

But along the way we will be stopping at Walker’s Funeral Home for a moment of silence dedicated to all of the thousands of residents of Woodhaven whose families have bid farewell to them there. They are the true Ghosts of Woodhaven’s Christmas Past.

Remembering the Jamaica Avenue Trolley, 75 Years Gone From Woodhaven

By Ed Wendell

The Jamaica Avenue Trolley Line, now 75 years gone from Woodhaven. Trolley service (horse drawn) started in 1865 and the line was electrified in 1887.

It was 75 years ago this month that Woodhaven bid farewell to an old friend. Trolley cars, which had served Woodhaven along Jamaica Avenue for over 8 decades, trundled to a halt, replaced by a brand-new fleet of modern buses.

These days, there is a lot of nostalgia for the old trolley cars. However, the switch to bus lines was quite popular among residents of our community. “Woodhavenites Hail Bus Line as Jamaica Avenue Trams Go” read a headline in the Leader-Observer which praised the much faster service the buses offered.

“With the buses stopping at every other block instead of every other block as was the custom of trolley cars, a speed-up in transportation is already in evidence,” the article from December 1947 stated.

The Leader-Observer profiled trolley motorman John Horgan, who they described as being well-known in Woodhaven. He should have been well known as he was the oldest motorman on the Jamaica Avenue trolley line.

Over the 40 years that Horgan rode the rails on Jamaica Avenue, it was estimated that he traveled over 900,000 miles, or nearly 4 trips around the world!

Trolley service in Woodhaven started in October 1865 as horse-drawn coaches rode on tracks along Jamaica Avenue. The ride between East New York and 78th Street in the Union Course section of Woodhaven cost 10 cents, which was considered very high. 

The horses and cars were kept in an old barn that used to be a part of the Union Course racetrack on the southeast corner of 78th Street and Jamaica, where Domino’s Pizza sits today. When the trolley car reached that corner, the driver would get off and walk the horse around to the other side of the car for the return trip to Brooklyn.

Once a passenger reached Woodhaven, they could catch an old fashioned stage coach to Richmond Hill or Jamaica for an additional 10 cents. Within a few years, the horse drawn trolleys were so successful that single-fare service was extended all the way to Jamaica.

In 1887 the trolley line along Jamaica Avenue was electrified with large generators now housed in the old barns of the racetrack. This was so successful that within a few years, the Brooklyn Rapid Transit took over and modernized the entire line.

With brand new trolley cars and reliable power, the standard for local travel would be in place for the next 60 years. The elevated trains would be built above the trolley lines in 1916 and the two modes of transportation co-existed for several decades.

In 1947, the Leader-Observer described the last trolley ride through Woodhaven:

“On Woodhaven Boulevard, a street cleaner leaned wearily on the handle of his broom as he watched a passing phenomenon. A train overhead rumbled a farewell, for they had been friends for a long time, with no misgivings.”

They described the “lumbering” trolley’s last run, and how it was easily passed by a fast bus trailing a cloud of evaporating diesel fumes. And they wondered just how long the elevated train would remain before being replaced by a modern underground subway. 

75 years later, trolley cars have become a romanticized piece of nostalgia for those who never rode them, and a fond memory for those who were lucky enough to experience them.

The story of the old trolley line will be a part of “A Woodhaven Christmas Carol,” a candlelight historical walking tour of Woodhaven complete with Christmas caroling this Friday, December 16th. 

We will be meeting up at Neir’s Tavern between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. before heading to Jamaica Avenue, stopping to sing holiday songs along the way. Email us at [email protected] for more information.

We will be making stops at Sal’s Pizza (for a song in honor of the late Dominic Brienza), Pop’s Cocina, the Tree at Forest Parkway before ending up at Geordie’s Joint at 80th and Jamaica. 

Come out and enjoy a night of song and local history, everyone is welcome. The trolleys of Jamaica Avenue will be just one of the Ghosts of Christmas Past we’ll be conjuring up!

 

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing