Astoria Characters: The Deep-Discount Guy

Chris Sciacco, who is wearing a grey sweater and a big smile, throws open the doors to Kaiya’s Pallets. Chris is the owner of Kaiya’s Pallets. This is week No. 5 of the wholesale/discount store’s existence, and he’s really pumped. Come on in! We have deals you can’t pass up! Water is 10 cents a bottle. Gatorade is 50 cents a bottle. Diapers are on sale for $10 a pack. Kaiya’s Pallets is at 36-37 31st St. And brand-name cereals are $3 to $5 for a two-pack. Come…

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Astoria Characters: The History Guy on the Soccer Team

There are two questions that everyone always asks Chris Minty: Why is a Scotsman devoting his career to studying Early American history? Why is such a serious academic so keen on spending his spare time playing football, or soccer as we call it in the States? Chris is a historian and an avid soccer player. For the answers, we have to do what Chris, a documentary editor historian who literally gets to hold history in his hands, does on a daily basis: search and annotate the past to put…

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Astoria Characters: The Confectioner With the Sweet Heart

Crystal Gonzalez sets the small white box on the table and carefully opens it to reveal a half dozen elaborately iced cupcakes. She created Crystal’s Confections during the pandemic. There’s one with a couple of cherries on top, one adorned with a gigantic strawberry, one defined by an upright Oreo and two decorated with edible parchment butterflies that look as though they are going to flutteroff into the spring air. She brought the home-baked goods, she says, to sweeten the day. Crystal,…

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Astoria Characters: The Family That Sticks Together

It’s the start of yet another day at Astoria Family Pizza. Family is the operative word. Jose stepped up after his brother died. Jose Guaman is making the pizzas, gently kneading the dough for what he calls “three baby pies” to complement a large one that will be sold slice by slice, each with a different topping. As he slides the silver pans into the oven, his wife, Maria, his 22-year-old son Jose and his daughter-in-law Carolina – the “family” referenced in the establishment’s…

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