Astoria Characters: The Acting Cafe Owner

After she takes a tray of pineapple coconut muffins out of the oven, Sonnie Brown concentrates on the frosting for her chocolate peanut butter layer cake. She stands smiling over the small stainless steel mixing bowl at her coffee/cake/conversation café Sonbobs, swiftly stirring, stirring, stirring. Sonbobs is at 34-15 28th Ave. When the icing is creamy and thick, she paints it onto the cake with a spatula, crowning the confection with miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups. The decorative design…

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Astoria Characters: The Yogi with 5 College Degrees

“Would you mind removing your shoes before coming in?” Jagadisa-devasri Dacus, a tall, toned man with a shaved head and a bushy beard, is standing at the door of his apartment in black flip-flops, toenails painted the color of ripe cherries. Jagadisa-devasri is a social worker, behavioral scientist and yogi. He went on a business trip to San Francisco, and he just got home a half hour ago on the red-eye flight. He hasn’t had any sleep. He says he’s tired, but he looks wide awake. It’s…

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Astoria Characters: The Cocktail Curator

When you’ve just finished an overnight shift, 9 in the morning feels like an exceedingly unseemly hour. Which is why Alex Mouzakitis keeps apologizing; he got off at 5:30 a.m. after working 15 hours and hasn’t had much sleep. Alex is a co-owner of HandCraft Kitchen & Cocktails in Manhattan. He has his Mets cap pulled down over his somnolent eyes and worries when he takes it off that he has hat hair. (He doesn’t; his tresses looked professionally tousled.) He’s not going to lie, he’s…

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Astoria Characters: The Guy Who Loves Pi and Pizza Pie

“Not all pizza is created equal,” says Walid Idriss as he sprinkles flour on the countertop and places a roll of dough in the center. Walid is the owner of Macoletta. The crust may be a little thicker or thinner. The toppings may be arranged slightly differently. Or in the case of the one he’s making, the pie may not form a perfect circle. Macoletta, the pizzeria and beer/wine bar, is at 28-15 24th Ave. And that’s OK by him. In fact, it’s kind of the point. When Walid opened Macoletta,…

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Astoria Characters: The Bakers Who Are Sweet on Each Other

It is pouring down rain, but Michael Dellapolla, the owner of Gian Piero Bakery, doesn’t notice the deluge. Gian Piero is at 44-17 30th Ave. What he sees are the customers pouring in. Sure, he wishes the sun were out, but in the 23 years the bakery has been in business, he’s weathered far worse weather. He goes out to do some errands, leaving his wife, Anna, in charge. When he returns, the rain has eased and there’s a line outside his door. Michael and his family came to America when he was…

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