Jonathan Forgash, Astoria Together
by Benjamin Fang
Apr 01, 2020 | 13119 views | 0 0 comments | 1524 1524 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Four years ago, Astoria resident Jonathan Forgash teamed up with local foodies Joe DiStefano and Gabe Gross to start Queens Dinner Club.

Their curated events showcased the diverse food scene in Queens, providing publicity to small, lesser-known restaurants in the borough.

When the coronavirus pandemic struck, local restaurants closed up shop left and right. The ones left standing were scaled back to takeout and delivery.

Forgash, a former chef, jumped into action. He leveraged his restaurant industry connections and teamed up with fellow Astoria resident and executive director of the Sunnyside Shines BID, Jaime-Faye Bean to launch Astoria Together.

The new organization supports Astoria’s food and beverage businesses through advocacy, marketing support and links to resources, such as government funding, loans and unemployment benefits.

“There are thousands of small businesses, many immigrant owned, who aren’t aware of government services,” Forgash said.

Forgash and Bean were approached to help start another new program in response to the coronavirus called Queens Feeds Hospitals.

The idea, Forgash said, is that donors will pay local restaurants that are still open and able to switch to commercial catering to put out 80 to 200 meals at any given time to local hospitals.

The restaurants create a special menu and deliver the food to hospitals, while nurses and doctors can eat for free. Food and beverage businesses make revenue, while donors can play a role in saving two key segments of their community.

Some hospital staff members have even posted on social media to promote the restaurants.

“It’s real community in action,” he said.

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