Arts and Culture, Astoria, Small Business Owners Spotlight
Oct 20, 2016

Small Business Owner Spotlight: Kambri Crews of Q.E.D.

  Q.E.D. is the type of place that immediately feels welcoming. Part performance space, part bar, and part venue for a diverse selection of classes, this spot always has something new and exciting going (…)

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Q.E.D. is the type of place that immediately feels welcoming. Part performance space, part bar, and part venue for a diverse selection of classes, this spot always has something new and exciting going on. And how cool is this: they are about to celebrate their second anniversary!

To honor the two-year mark, they’ll be throwing a killer party on November 1 from 7pm-10pm. You can expect tasty bites, beer specials by the Bronx Brewery, specialty cocktails, and other exciting surprises. A RSVP is required, and the specials are first-come, first-serve, so don’t delay!

We’re so excited about Q.E.D.’s big milestone that we’re profiling their fearless leader, Kambri Crews. She’s a business owner, author, public speaker, and all-around badass. We’re thrilled she took the time to answer our questions!

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Kambri is excited to show off a book Q.E.D. has in stock, and we’re excited she took the time to answer our questions!

Name of Business:

Q.E.D.

Owned by:

Kambri Crews

Year opened:

October 2014

Address:

27-16 23rd Ave Astoria, NY 11105

Known for:

We’re best known as a performance space and for our wide variety of comedy and storytelling shows and creative classes. We consistently have stellar line-ups featuring comedians you’d see in a Manhattan club or on your television but at a fraction of the price with no drink minimums or jacked up costs on snacks and beverages. But we also are a great home to the up-and-coming talents and host over 20 free open mics each month which Time Out New York called the best in the city.

 

Where in Queens do you live? How did you end up here?

I wrote a whole book about how I came to be in NYC. (Buy it! It’s a New York Times best seller called BURN DOWN THE GROUND: A MEMOIR published by Penguin Random House!)

I’m originally from Texas, lived all over Ohio and finally landed in New York permanently in 2000. My first apartment was on 34th Street and 31st Avenue. Currently, my husband and I live over by the movie theater, which is now known as the Kaufman Arts District. We’ve been in the same apartment since 2005, so we feel pretty rooted there. (Read: rent stabilized with a dishwasher. We’ll leave our apartment when they take it from our cold, dead hands.)

 

What made you decide to open a storefront in Astoria?

We’ve lived in Astoria for 16 years and never performed or saw shows here. We trekked to shows in Manhattan and the far reaches of Brooklyn. There was a real need for a fun, affordable space to actually DO something other than just eat and drink. Not only is it my home, there are so many talented artists living in this area, particularly comedians. Astoria made perfect sense.

 

What’s been your favorite moment since opening so far?

In two short years, I’ve amassed dozens. One night, Mara Wilson called upon her web following to help us re-home the most adorable kitten we found in our backyard. It took less than 30 minutes. Another time, Leslie Jones screamed at the “room full of white people” and had everyone crying with laughter…that heaving, howling, can’t breathe kind of laughter that I wish I could bottle up and sell in our shop.

But my most favorite night was the “blizzard” of January 2016. I opened up at 12PM per usual on a Saturday and diligently kept the front sidewalk shoveled. If you saw a picture of our storefront from that night, you would’ve thought it had been a light dusting of snow. It was pristine. I kept open sign blazing and the beer, mulled wine and hot apple cider flowing. We had three packed, really fun shows that night featuring comedians with great credits ranging from all the late night talk shows to Comedy Central and This American Life.

In times like a blizzard, people want a shared experience. Plus, a Saturday night is still a weekend night where you know you don’t have to be anywhere the next day. With the trains not running, it was great for locals and comics to be able to walk to a place in their own neighborhood for a drink and a great time with loads of laughs. There were some people who spent over 10 hours with us. So fun.

 

What’s your favorite item you sell?

Anything from our small pop-up shop which includes books from Astoria Bookshop, coffee cozies made by Astoria’s own Queens Knits, adult coloring books, journals, Moleskines and books written by Queens locals.

 

What’s the most popular item you sell?

Besides tickets to shows, calligraphy, swing dancing and PR 101 are our most popular classes. We have sweet treats made by This Chick Bakes in LIC that we can hardly keep in stock. They’re amazing!

 

What’s your favorite place to grab food when you’re working?

I pretty much live at QED so it’s tough for me to get anything other than a quick lunch. For that, I go to Andrew & Frank’s for great hot Italian dishes and heroes bigger than your head, and Zorba’s for their quick souvlaki and ginormous Greek salads. I also love the goat cheese crostinis at Astoria Bier & Cheese and the salad bar at Soho Café.

When I work from home, Monika’s Café Bar is my regular spot (mmm…fish tacos!), Tacuba has some great dishes (freshly made guac & ceviche makes for a quick and delicious bar snack) and No. 5 is a new addition to my favorites list for some really healthy and hearty meals eaten al fresco.

 

Is there a hidden Astoria spot you feel like people don’t know about?

The Q.E.D. backyard! It’s quiet and shady on a hot summer day and the free wifi works like a champ out there. It’s also great for private parties. Next year, we’ll probably add an outdoor storytelling show and some poetry events. Other tips not involving Q.E.D.: The aforementioned No. 5 is an oasis on a very ugly part of 36th Avenue. Studio Square (aka “the new beer garden”) is much more pleasant during the week. Monika’s Café Bar and No. 5 both have ½ price bottles of wine on Tuesdays. Coffeed on Northern Blvd has so much space for daytime meetings.

 

What’s your favorite place to grab a drink?

By QED: Astoria Bier & Cheese or Rocky McBride’s for a daytime pint and LetLove Inn for a nightcap cocktail and the best bartenders.

By home: Sunswick for a pint and Tacuba for tequila or a margarita. 

 

If you have friends or family visiting Astoria, where do you take them?

The Museum of the Moving Image is always on the agenda as well as a bike ride to LIC Landing for the panoramic view of Manhattan and the cheap and lovely ferry ride down the East River with stops in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan.

 

How have you seen Astoria change since you’ve been here?

For years the local rags have said Astoria was the going to be the next “it” neighborhood and nothing really changed. But it’s certainly becoming true now, as people have been priced out of Brooklyn and Manhattan. The heart of Astoria hasn’t changed too much that I can tell other than higher rents and different bars and restaurants. The fringes by my apartment are definitely changing quickly with new additions like Studio Square, Paper Factory Hotel, Coffeed, WeWork, the QCA and expansion of Kaufman Astoria Studios. The first time I saw tourists stroll down my block I thought I was the one that was lost.

 

What’s your favorite part of owning a business in Queens?

Time and again locals have thanked me for opening Q.E.D. saying that the neighborhood has needed a place like this. That’s nice to hear. I really enjoy feeling part of something bigger, a community of creatives and lovers of all types of art and entertainment.

Sometimes during a show, I will look out on the audience’s faces and get so overwhelmed with joy at seeing their joy. It’s a lovely little circle of happiness.

And being able to walk or bike to work is a huge bonus, especially since the N/Q line always seems to be on the fritz. (WHA Note: We feel your pain, girl.)

 

Thanks again to Kambri for taking the time to answer our questions. Get yourselves to the QED party on November 1!

Q.E.D. 27-16 23rd Ave, Astoria (347) 451-3873

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About Lindsay Goyette

Lindsay has been eating and drinking her way through Queens since 2011. A casting director by day and Astoria explorer by night, you can usually find her checking out live music, theatre, or the newest neighborhood spot to enjoy a craft beer.

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