Astoria Characters: Vinny and Suzy and the Harley

“Wanna go for a ride?” Suzy runs circles around the living room coffee table, yes, yes, YES! Vinny and Suzy get ready to ride. Satisfied with her enthusiastic answer, Vinny Ombres grabs his black leather vest and helmet and heads out the front door, Suzy prancing at his heels. As he takes the protective cover off his cherry red Harley Road Glide Ultra, Suzy sits patiently on the sidewalk. Suzy, who is named for Vinny’s grandmother, in her biker doggie basket. Once the bike is road ready,…

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Astoria Characters: The Smiler Behind Sorriso’s

Standing behind the shiny stainless-steel counter at Sorriso Italian Pork Store, Frank DePaola is all smiles. Frank came to America from Italy in 1966 when he was 9. His is a big, broad, toothy grin, the kind people break into when a photographer asks them to “Say cheese!” It’s a habit Frank can’t break: He’s been doing it all 60 years of his life, and he has practiced it on a daily basis since he opened Sorriso nearly 40 years ago. Sorriso Italian Pork Store is at 44-16 30th Ave. “I…

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Astoria Characters: Miss Edie of Broadway Dance Studio

As the little leotarded girls arrive for the 10 a.m. tap class at Broadway Dance Studio, Edie Bongiovi greets them at the front desk, a semicircular structure surrounded by pint-size four-legged stools. Miss Edie started tap lessons at Broadway Dance Studio when she was 3. Watching the parents helping the 2- and 3-year-olds put on their shiny black patent leather shoes, she smiles. This routine act brings back a lot of memories. Miss Edie, as her students call her, began dancing at Broadway when…

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Astoria Characters: The Neon Guy

When he reaches the end of the dark, tunnel-like hallway, Kenny Greenberg switches on the signs. Kenny is the owner of Krypton Neon. Luncheonette. State Garage. Pepsi-Cola. Airstream Since 1931. Krypton Neon is in Long Island City. Beacons in the blackness, they blink their eyes open, one by one, bathing the studio in the soft glow of history. Neon signs debuted 108 years ago, and for the last 38 of them, Kenny and his Krypton Neon studio have been an integral part of their illuminating story. Kenny,…

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Astoria Characters: The Puppeteer and the Producer

It happened at a summer camp in the Catskills. It’s where Mike and Allison Hayhurst met; it’s why they share the same surname. Allison, who doesn’t have a Southern accent, is from Alabama. Mike, who is from Leighton Buzzard, England, was teaching theatre there. So was Allison, who was from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, specifically Huntsville, Alabama. Mike’s from England. Allison: “At the last minute, a friend asked me to design costumes for . It was just for three weeks,…

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