Astoria Characters: The Salsa Master

Salsa In Queens is going to open soon, so Jean Franco Vergaray grabs a broom and starts sweeping the wooden dance floor. He moves back and forth, back and forth and back and forth again. Over and over and over. Once his feet feel the beat, he establishes his own methodical rhythm, his movements reflected in the studio’s wall of mirrors. This simple dance for this simple task is a far cry from the spicy, sassy salsa steps students come to Jean Franco’s studio to master. Whether…

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Astoria Characters: The Daughter Who Took Over the Family Business

When Gerri Domenikos was growing up, she always figured that she would go into the family’s commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration business. After all, she had been involved with Bayside Refrigeration (now AirLogix) since she was 5. Her father, a Greek immigrant, had founded the company in their home in Bayside in 1984 two years after she was born. To make it a success, he had to work all the time, and the only way he could see Gerri was to take her with…

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Astoria Characters: The Yiddish Actor

When Adam B. Shapiro introduces himself, he makes a big point of emphasizing his middle initial, B. You see, Adam’s an actor, and there’s another fellow on the New York stage who has the same name; it is the all-important B that clarifies the confusion. You can see Adam in . (For the record, the two Adams recently met, and Adam B says that Adam No B, who is starring in on Broadway, is, indeed, a very nice guy.) While explaining all this, Adam, a benevolent bearded behemoth, is sitting in his…

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Astoria Characters: The Comfort-Food Chef

Ah, comfort food. Whether it’s mac and cheese or mashed potatoes, it’s what gets Nick Testa’s culinary juices flowing like fine wine. Nick is the executive chef at The Bonnie and Sweet Afton. “It reminds me of my childhood,” says Nick, who is the executive chef of the Astoria gastropubs The Bonnie and Sweet Afton. “It makes me think of home. And of my mother.” Which is why he put zucchini fritters on Sweet Afton’s menu. “It’s her recipe,” he says as he places a plate of them…

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Astoria Characters: The Good Witch

In Annie Mascia’s life, things don’t simply happen. Rather, she gets interested in one thing, and it leads to another and another and another. Annie, a licensed massage therapist and certified aromatherapist and aromatherapy teacher, remarks that it’s quiet in the co-op today – her husband and two young daughters are out. Annie is a licensed massage therapist and a certified aromatherapist and teacher. She and Rusty, her 2-year-old orange and white cat, are hanging out for a while until…

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