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Dec 16, 2019

5 Years in Astoria: Q.E.D. & The Brass Owl

With 2019 coming to an end ever so swiftly, we decided it would be nice to highlight some of the amazing local businesses celebrating milestone anniversaries this year. Each day (…)

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Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash.

With 2019 coming to an end ever so swiftly, we decided it would be nice to highlight some of the amazing local businesses celebrating milestone anniversaries this year.

Each day this week we’ll feature one or two businesses that have a lot to be proud of this year (except for Friday when we’ll be back with the bi-weekly Astoria Interiors series!). We’ve asked the business owners to reflect on the past years regarding their careers, the community and their origin stories.

Happy Astoria-versary!

5 Years


Courtesy Q.E.D.

If you want to enjoy affordable but quality entertainment, or have the freedom to flex any creative muscle, Q.E.D. is the place to go. Started by veteran NYC comedians and husband and wife duo Kambri Crews and Christian Finnegan, this artistic haven came from humble beginnings but has grown into a community landmark.

Kambri had been working in theater, standup comedy and storytelling for over 20 years, and always had a passion for learning new crafts. She says her creative roots go all the way back to her childhood.

“I was poor and isolated in the deep woods of Texas with Deaf parents,” she explained. “So I had to invent ways to keep myself entertained with little money and incorporate my hobbies into entrepreneurial ventures.

“I turned my bedroom into a fully functional library complete with the Dewey Decimal system, late fees and membership cards. I wrote and produced a puppet show, made a program, sold tickets and had a concession stand with popcorn and Kool-Aid, and that’s not really much different than what I do every day with Q.E.D.”

Courtesy Q.E.D.

Now, Q.E.D. hosts dozens of events, from podcast and writing workshops to watch parties to comedy shows (check out this month’s lineup here!). Kambri definitely filled a void in the community, as she knew from her own experience in the industry that she hardly ever had the opportunity to perform in her home borough (she’s lived here since 1999).

Though the location was sometimes a bit far for big-name performers, Kambri had an impressive list of friends in the industry who were able to come and help put Q.E.D. on the map when it first opened. Nowadays, wonderful performers, staff and supportive regulars keep the space running smoothly and full of good energy.

Courtesy Q.E.D.

“Life is hard. Creating is hard,” Kambri says. “Let’s support each other.”

Speaking of, Kambri is always looks for new ideas, and replies to emails so definitely pitch her on any class or event ideas. “My inbox is open!”

Q.E.D., 27-16 23rd Ave, Queens

The Brass Owl

Courtesy The Brass Owl.

The cheery blue outlined sign of The Brass Owl is a bright addition to Ditmars Ave, just like owner Nicole Panettieri herself. Nicole actually spent 14 years as a retail buyer for accessories and shoes in the corporate world before opening up The Brass Owl in 2014. Being a small business owner ran in the family—her grandfather opened a shoe repair shop in New Jersey in 1928—so it was always a goal of hers to continue the tradition.

She moved to Astoria in 2013, and knew immediately that it would be the place to open her dream business. “It reminds me of my town in New Jersey where my great grandfather opened his small business,” she said. “Astoria is a community that appreciates mom and pop shops. I knew it was perfect for The Brass Owl and to settle down to start a family.”

Courtesy The Brass Owl.

Nicole has seen Astoria grow a lot since she first moved here, but she finds it exciting. “Even though new businesses are popping up, most are still locally owned which is so amazing,” she said. The Brass Owl has more than doubled its inventory since it started, and the breadth of their assortment of products has grown exponentially as well.

She and her employees pride themselves on their customer service, which has helped with its long-term success, as well as having a very personally curated assortment.

Courtesy The Brass Owl.

“I do all the buying myself and think about people in the neighborhood when I choose items,” she said. She also makes a point to carry goods from local, Queens-based artisans and continually give back to the local community (she’s the one who organizes the epic Small Business Retail Crawl every year and heads Ladies First Astoria!).

As for what’s to come in the next five years?

“It is my dream to expand The Brass Owl, so fingers crossed you see more of us in Astoria some day!” she said. We can’t wait!

The Brass Owl, 36-19 Ditmars Blvd, Queens

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