Cyril Burke is the owner of Jack and Nellie's, a brand new wine bar in Forest Hills that moved in to the former site of Q Bistro last month.
We talked with Burke about his first two weeks in business and the challenges of opening a restaurant in Forest Hills.
Patch: You have been in business for two weeks. First impressions of the community? First impressions of doing business here?
Burke: I've been living in the community about eight years, so I knew what I was getting into when I started here. First impressions have been fantastic, we're getting great feedback from our customers, and we're getting regulars already. Food is coming out very, very good, people are very happy with it.
There are a few changes that we're going to make as we're getting feedback from our customers what they'd like.
Tell me a little bit about the philosophy of the restaurant, what your overall plan is here.
This is primarily a wine bar with craft beers, and we have local beers also, and we're doing small plates of food. Chorizo mac and cheese, a small pot of chicken, a cheese board. It's good sharing food for people who want to come out, relax, sit down, have a bottle of wine and something nice to pick on.
I hope it will be a good little local place where people can keep coming back. Just a nice, good vibe to the place, that's what I'm shooting for.
Why do you think a wine bar can be successful in Forest Hills?
Well, it doesn't have a wine bar now. Most other neighborhoods that you go to, they all have a wine bar. So I thought this was a good location, it's off the beaten track, though it's around the corner from most of the other bars. But it's just something different I wanted to bring to the neighborhood.
Tell me a little bit about your background.
I haven't owned a restaurant before but I've been in the restaurant business for about 16 years now. I've worked in three places on the Upper East Side, and I worked for about 10 years in The Irish Pub in Manhattan.
I don't think there's that many adjustments [coming to Forest Hills from Manhattan.] The only thing here is you don't get the tourists coming through like you do in Manhattan. But you have great regulars, great locals and some fantastic people coming in and it's good to be out there for them.
I have a lot of people coming here who've moved to Forest Hills like from Brooklyn, and they're so happy to see a place like this. Which is fantastic for me, also. So I'm getting a good vibe overall from everyone.
What are some of the challenges you've faced since opening?
It's all been a big challenge so far. The biggest challenge has been a bit of flooding around Forest Hills, that's hit me twice and destroyed my floor and I had to redo my floor. Starting a restaurant is a big challenge anyway, but that on top of it was a bit of a nightmare.
This interview has been edited for duration and clarity.