Weiner Readies Rockaway Restaurant

Weiner Readies Rockaway Restaurant

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is helping to launch the Rockaways’ newest social project – a restaurant option for residents living in what he called a food desert.  File Photo

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is helping to launch the Rockaways’ newest social project – a restaurant option for residents living in what he called a food desert. File Photo

Anthony Weiner is dishing out something new for Rockaway residents.

The former congressman and mayoral candidate announced plans to launch a nonprofit restaurant on the Rockaway peninsula and said he was looking to bring a unique brand of eating that residents currently do not see.

For the past eight months, Weiner has been working behind the scenes to help launch the Rockaway Restoration Kitchen to serve healthy food options to hungry peninsula patrons while also providing employment options for those who need it most. The restaurant, still in its early phases, said it was looking to dish out “locally sourced food that satisfies the hunger of Rockaway residents,” a description on Idealist.org said.

“Big parts of the community – particularly in the east – have very few quality, healthy local food options and also have many chronically unemployed people,” Weiner said about his motivations to open up the restaurant. “A social entrepreneurship that focuses on these challenges makes good sense for Rockaway.”

The Rockaway Restoration Kitchen’s website cited 2012’s Superstorm Sandy in its official mission statement as a motivator to go into business, arguing that Rockaway was home to the “chronically unemployed” and in need of a healthy, locally sourced food option.

The site mapped out three specific challenges the restaurant hoped to address, including a shortage of experienced kitchen help throughout the food industry, the lack of on-the-job experience and training throughout the unemployed community and the Rockaway peninsula’s ongoing Sandy relief efforts.

“Very early but need are clear,” Weiner said on Twitter. “Large pockets of unemployed in Rockaway; big need for cooks in nyc; experience in real kitchen is vital.”

The restaurant said it would be targeting the unemployed to provide them with a second chance in the working world. The website also outlined a four-stage culinary workplace training program, which set out to get workers ready for the job market.

“Working in partnership with experienced social service agencies, applicants will be targeted and screened based on realistic minimum requirements to maximize success of participants,” the website said. “Ongoing participant commitment measurement and support for eligible trainees to remove some barriers to participation, will also improve the long term success of participants.”

Weiner said it was still too early to go into detail about the restaurant’s ambitions, but when asked how long-term he was thinking in regards to the new eatery, Weiner replied, “Forever.” The restaurant’s description on Idealist.org said it was looking for an executive director, which Weiner did not comment on.

But either way, the former U.S. representative said he hoped to see the Rockaway Restoration Kitchen through all of its goals of addressing what the website called a “food desert” along the peninsula, where a dense population with expendable income has few commercial options.

“I love Rockaway,” Weiner said. “I owe a lot to the residents there.”

Weiner used to represent the Rockaways, along with other southern Queens communities, as a member of Congress from 1999 to 2011. The former representative resigned after a Twitter scandal in which he published scandalous photos of himself on the Internet. He also ran an unsuccessful bid for mayor last year.


By Phil Corso


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