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Cheese and Gourmet Store on Austin Street to Open Soon Despite Setbacks

By Nigel Chiwaya | November 22, 2012 3:07pm

FOREST HILLS — After two setbacks to the long-anticipated opening of a cheese and gourmet store on Austin Street, owner Nicholas Protopapas hopes the third time's the charm.

Protopapas, a Queens optometrist who already owns a wine store and an eyeglass shop in the area, says he was on the verge of opening Mr. Vino's Cucina before Mother Nature stepped in last month.

"Everything was ready to go," Protopapas, 35, said earlier this week. "If it weren't for Hurricane Sandy we'd probably be ready to open this week and today would've been one of our first days."

The superstorm flooded Protopapas' Long Island-based cabinet vendor and knocked its power out for two weeks.

And just a couple of months ago, Protopapas, who opened his wine store, Mr. Vino, earlier this year, was set to open the shop. But a delay in getting the custom-made refrigeration units delivered pushed back plans.

The delays have only served to heighten interest in the store, Protopapas said. Customers at Mr. Vino ask about Cucina — which promises to offer gourmet meats, cheeses, and wines, along with imported beers — every day, he says.

And while Protopapas, who lives in Long Island City, is reluctant to commit to another opening date, he insists the troubles are now behind him. The store, which installed new neon signage on Tuesday, is moving quickly toward opening, he added.

"We're almost there," Protopapas said. "We're so close."