Astoria, Restaurants
Apr 07, 2016

Hawaii in Astoria – Get To Know Aloha NYC

Get ready for Aloha NYC, a Hawaiian restaurant, bar, and lounge set to open on Astoria Blvd later this year.

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Around the start of the year, we got wind of a new place opening in Astoria, called Aloha NYC. I had walked past it on the southeast corner of Astoria Blvd South and 37th Street many times and was definitely curious about what was going on in there. By chance, a fellow Astorian was able to introduce me to one of the owners, Mitchell Bosch, and we spoke on the phone along with his business partner, Christian Carrillo. They told me a lot about themselves, the business, and some of their dreams and desires for Aloha NYC to go beyond simply being a place to eat, drink, and relax.

A Bit About Mitchell and Christian

Mitchell and Christian served in the Army in Iraq and Afghanistan (Mitchell joined in 1999, Christian in 2001), and both went to college in at Hawaii Pacific University, a private liberal arts university in Honolulu, which happens to be the largest of its kind in the central Pacific region. Mitchell and Christian had actually met many years before, growing up in East New York, where they still live. “We knew each other since the neighborhood, and our paths kept crossing,” Christian says.

Christian headed to Hawaii first. “When I decided to go to Hawaii I was young at the time, like 18 or 19 years old, and I just wanted to get away and see a part of the world I hadn’t seen before,” he recalls. “I enjoy the ocean and I liked the adventure aspect of it.” Mitchell tells us how he found his way there, “I knew Christian had gone to Hawaii and I remember talking with him about it. I joined the Army and ended up going over there as an enlisted engineer.”

Christian worked with computers during his military service, and spent time in Texas and Germany, aside from his time in Iraq. After he returned to the US, Christian dealt with the challenges inherent in that transition back to civilian life (“basically I had to find myself again”). He recalls those years, “I ended up working contract jobs in my field of computers but being stuck in a cubicle was like torture for me because I’m a creative person. So, I went back to college and graduated from film school at the Art Institute of New York. When I was doing film work, I ended up bumping back into Mitchell. He offered me some business opportunities and a partnership, and we connected on this level.”

Mitchell comes with familial experience in the food industry—his mother originally owned a restaurant for many years, and it was time for him to dive into the business on his own. Christian, on the other hand, had no food service experience, but had valuable skills of his own to contribute . “I’ve been in the entertainment scene for many years—I was a DJ all over NY and I have many friends in that industry. It was a match made in heaven—Mitch has a business background and I’m very creative. And it kind of just works together.”

For many years he wanted to open a lounge and tried a couple of times, but he was never in a financially solid position to do so. He had all these ideas of what he wanted to do, and when Mitchell approached him, it was the right time in his life to move forward with his dream.

Food, Drink, and Decor

aloha-nyc-exterior-astoria-queensAs far as the concept, they didn’t start out with the idea to open a Hawaiian spot. “When we got together we didn’t think specifically about Aloha NYC, we were just envisioning doing a restaurant or bar or lounge, or a combination of the three,” Mitchell tells us. “As we were looking for our location we ended up finding a place in Astoria. Eventually we had an ‘a-ha! moment’ when the subject of Hawaii came up as we were talking about different concepts. We looked into to our past in Hawaii and discussed a Hawaii-themed establishment. The name, Aloha NYC, came easily to us.”

Christian adds, “Basically we were talking a lot about Hawaii and how we enjoyed that part of our lives. We also realized there was nothing like that in the neighborhood—everybody was doing the same old hookah lounge thing and we wanted to bring something different to the community. It just kind of fit with the theme we were trying to supply to the community.”

As for what they’ll offer at Aloha NYC, the general concept is a light seafood menu, tropical cocktails, and a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere. They plan to start doing business in the front half and expand to the back half later on. As far as the food menu goes, expect things like crab legs, crab rolls, lobster rolls, and oysters. Mitchell says there might be an interesting burger option, unofficially called the “Aloha Burger,” incorporating—you guessed it—SPAM, which is so quintessentially 20th century Hawaii. Mitchell muses, “The burger could be made with high quality meat, (perhaps kobe beef), with avocado, soy sauce, and the SPAM musubi. I think it would be a great idea.”

When it comes to drinks, you’ll find boozy fruity cocktails in cored pineapples, and Hawaiian cocktails like the beloved Mai Tai, and a Lava Flow (“famous in Hawaii, very delicious”). Really, any island drink you can think of will likely be on the menu; flavors of rum, coffee liqueur, tropical fruit, and coconut are sure to be incorporated into the cocktails.

When they expand to the back, they want to offer as full a luau experience as they can. “When we go to the back we hope to transition to a more restaurant vibe, explains Christian. “Then we can present Hawaiian dishes like the classic luaus with roast pig; it’s very similar to a pig roast in our own culture, pernil, so we are kind of familiar with cooking like that. We’d like to have all the aspects of a luau including the Hawaiian shows—traditional dance displays and things of that nature.”

The decor promises to delight the senses. “We are going for beautiful decor,” says Christian. “We want to provide an atmosphere that is safe and tranquil, where you can chill out during the day, maybe you’ll bring your laptop, relax and do some work in there. For the lounge, we want it to be a little upscale—and we don’t want the music blaring so loudly that people can’t talk to each other. We see it as a gathering place for people to have a cocktail, chat, connect, and relax. We’ll have cabanas and seating for people as well.”

Think beachy, relaxed, chill in the daytime; at night, upscale yet laid back. We also hear the lighting will be classy and beautiful.

A Commitment to Community and Service

Aside from opening a bar/lounge/restaurant, Mitchell and Christian are deeply devoted to acts of service, inspired by their time in the military. They really want to contribute to the community, and their passion for this is strong. Christian tells us, “Mitchell and I want to be heavily involved with the community where we can give back. One thing we’d like to is to contact schools near us and let them know they can use our place for functions; we would take care of the cost. We want to be able to provide our space to people that can’t normally afford a space like this—for a school event, a faculty event, a kids birthday party, sponsoring a little league team. We’d also like to find things we can donate and contribute to.”

He adds, ”We are here with the hopes of creating a great atmosphere and environment, something we are very passionate about. It hasn’t always been about the money with us, it’s been about accomplishing something that we can be proud of.”

Mitchell also says, “In the Army we learned the values of social service—you’re taught to do something beyond yourself and help out your community and others in need; that’s an important task the public has given us. I’m at a position in my life, along with Christian, where I want to do something greater than us. It’s not just about providing for our families but it’s about giving back.”

They plan to be very military-friendly at Aloha NYC. Christian says, “We want to support our own—we’ve been there, I’ve fought in the war with them, and I definitely have a place in my heart for them.”

Mitchell’s final words in our interview are commendable, “I went through Iraq twice in one year and I was also in Afghanistan for one year; I have been there in the fight. We want to recognize anyone who serves—whether you serve as a teacher, FDNY, NYPD, EMT—you are serving a community and we want to be able to support you. These people serve for the greater good to make our next generation better.”

They hope to open late spring/early summer. Predicted hours will be 11am to 8pm, then from 8pm to 4am it will turn into a lounge.

Aloha NYC (37-02 Astoria Blvd South, Astoria)
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About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

2 Comments

Jon

I hope they have Li Hing Mui margaritas! When I think of Hawaii, I think li hing mui stuff. Would be nice to see that on a menu in NYC!

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Alba

Thanks for promoting this wonderful new place; all my passionate Hawaiian friends will very happy to hear about this. I wish Christian & Mitchell many blessings & success. Aloha & Mahalo, Alba

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