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TOPIC: Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In-Movie

Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In-Movie 1 week 38 minutes ago #387631

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Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In Movie

Tickets for film nights at Bel Aire Diner in Astoria sell out quickly, prompt car rentals


By Katie Honan / Wall Street Journal

May 18, 2020



The booths and stools inside the Bel Aire Diner in Queens have been empty since New York enacted restrictions on nonessential business in March to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, but on three nights this month, its parking lot has been jam-packed.

The diner, in the Astoria section of the borough, set up a makeshift drive-in movie theater after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 11 said he was lifting a ban on such screenings.

Now it has one of the hottest events in the city, with some customers renting cars to attend and drivers pulling in from as far away as New Jersey. Eighty tickets for two nighttime screenings of “The Sandlot” on Saturday sold out within three minutes a day earlier.

“We are like the poppin’ diner,” said Bel Aire employee Victoria Philios, who helps promote the movie nights.

The diner, which opened in 1965, is located in a corner of a shopping center that includes a supermarket, a Chinese food restaurant and a pizza shop.

The state’s lifting of the ban on drive-in movies has been a boon for William Bruner, 26 years old, who co-owns LI Movie Nights and hosts the screenings at the Bel Aire.

The coronavirus canceled or postponed nearly all of his other jobs, including weddings and corporate events. But the smaller portion of his business, hosting the occasional outdoor movie night, “is definitely on fire.”




The Bel Aire was the first business to reach out about hosting a drive-in, Mr. Bruner said. He since has received calls from all over New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He mostly uses the same equipment that he has for weddings, although he had to elevate the screens for people in cars to better see the film.

The diner did a test run for friends and family on May 7, said Peter Dellaportas, 32, whose family owns the diner. The official opening night was May 13, which was chaotic because it was so new, he said. They showed “Dirty Dancing” but still were figuring out the best way to arrange the cars.

The diner’s owners had the logistics worked out by Saturday night, when they held their third movie night. They organized the cars “kind of like a ray of sunshine,” said Ms. Philios, 22.




A DJ plays music before a show begins. The movie’s sound is sometimes played over the speakers, but on Saturday the sound was wired only through car radios to limit people crowding outside.

Drive-in movie patrons can order from a special menu through the diner’s app or website, and the food is then delivered to their vehicle based on license plate and description.


Jon Hutchinson, 34, and his wife, Esther Hutchinson, 35, brought their two children, 2-year-old Jack and 3-month-old Eliza, to see “The Sandlot.”

“It’s the first real event where we can go to in quarantine, and we are safe,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “It’s the only thing to do.”
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Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In-Movie 1 week ago #387635

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jerseyshorejohnny wrote: Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In Movie

Tickets for film nights at Bel Aire Diner in Astoria sell out quickly, prompt car rentals


By Katie Honan / Wall Street Journal

May 18, 2020



The booths and stools inside the Bel Aire Diner in Queens have been empty since New York enacted restrictions on nonessential business in March to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, but on three nights this month, its parking lot has been jam-packed.

The diner, in the Astoria section of the borough, set up a makeshift drive-in movie theater after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on May 11 said he was lifting a ban on such screenings.

Now it has one of the hottest events in the city, with some customers renting cars to attend and drivers pulling in from as far away as New Jersey. Eighty tickets for two nighttime screenings of “The Sandlot” on Saturday sold out within three minutes a day earlier.

“We are like the poppin’ diner,” said Bel Aire employee Victoria Philios, who helps promote the movie nights.

The diner, which opened in 1965, is located in a corner of a shopping center that includes a supermarket, a Chinese food restaurant and a pizza shop.

The state’s lifting of the ban on drive-in movies has been a boon for William Bruner, 26 years old, who co-owns LI Movie Nights and hosts the screenings at the Bel Aire.

The coronavirus canceled or postponed nearly all of his other jobs, including weddings and corporate events. But the smaller portion of his business, hosting the occasional outdoor movie night, “is definitely on fire.”




The Bel Aire was the first business to reach out about hosting a drive-in, Mr. Bruner said. He since has received calls from all over New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He mostly uses the same equipment that he has for weddings, although he had to elevate the screens for people in cars to better see the film.

The diner did a test run for friends and family on May 7, said Peter Dellaportas, 32, whose family owns the diner. The official opening night was May 13, which was chaotic because it was so new, he said. They showed “Dirty Dancing” but still were figuring out the best way to arrange the cars.

The diner’s owners had the logistics worked out by Saturday night, when they held their third movie night. They organized the cars “kind of like a ray of sunshine,” said Ms. Philios, 22.




A DJ plays music before a show begins. The movie’s sound is sometimes played over the speakers, but on Saturday the sound was wired only through car radios to limit people crowding outside.

Drive-in movie patrons can order from a special menu through the diner’s app or website, and the food is then delivered to their vehicle based on license plate and description.


Jon Hutchinson, 34, and his wife, Esther Hutchinson, 35, brought their two children, 2-year-old Jack and 3-month-old Eliza, to see “The Sandlot.”

“It’s the first real event where we can go to in quarantine, and we are safe,” Mr. Hutchinson said. “It’s the only thing to do.”

place just did that in Northport and was huge hit

My buddy owns a restaurant in Farmingdale and his chef has won I think chopped 3 times and they just started doing a weekly thing where you buy package of ingredients from the restaurant on a certain day and you could with the chef via zoom or whatever that night whatever meal the chef picked out in the ingredients and has been huge hit where they will probably continue it post pandemic. Love thinking outside the box

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Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In-Movie 6 days 23 hours ago #387639

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jerseyshorejohnny wrote: Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In Movie

Tickets for film nights at Bel Aire Diner in Astoria sell out quickly, prompt car rentals



Reminds me of my "youth" There was the Whitestone Drive In and, I believe, the Sunrise Drive In. Going with a "crew" and a few 6 packs or a date "watching" from the back seat. A lot of foggy windows. And those squawk boxes that worked-sometimes.

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Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In-Movie 6 days 6 hours ago #387657

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Still two drive-ins near my summer home in Dutchess, one in Hyde Park, one in Arlington.

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Queens Diner Serves Up Hamburgers, Fries and a Makeshift Drive-In-Movie 3 days 23 hours ago #387805

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Just read that they may turn Yankee Stadium parking lot into a drive in this summer; Citi Field is also an option.

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