NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – At the Queens Night Market, people can catch a hundred different dishes from 55 food vendors and check out more than two dozen vendors every Saturday through October in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
The trip to Flushing Meadows Corona Park is an hour from midtown. The annual open-air fair opens to the public at 5:00 p.m. each Saturday.
John Wang quit his job as an attorney and opened the market in 2015. He says it features about 55 food vendors and 25 merchandise booths this year, reports CBS New York’s Kim Bainbridge.
“Over the past four years, we’ve represented about 90 countries,” says Wang. “I wanted everyone to feel welcome no matter where they were from or how much money they made, or how long it took to get here.”
He says he wants the Queens Night Market to be the most affordable, diverse and welcoming event in New York City.
The market is comprised of several different areas. There are rows of tents for merchandise, clusters of food vendors throughout, an area for picnic tables and blankets, a stage, a dance floor and strip of grass designated for knockerball.
According to Wang, the market has served tens of thousands of people over the years. The long lines and smiling faces milling through the park Saturday underscored his company’s success.
However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing for the night market. Wang says his team had to jump through several bureaucratic hoops on its way to success. He also says that his staff was overwhelmed by the market’s instant popularity.
“Our opening night the first two years we had many, many, many times more people than we expected and were prepared for,” says Wang. So his team developed a solution to manage demand. “The last few years we’ve done sneak previews to help steady out the crowd.”
Even though he’s worked out most of the kinks, Wang says he’s still too stressed out eat on Saturdays. He said he’s proud of his team’s ability to garner support from the community.
“When I was still pitching the idea four years ago people were very skeptical,” he recalls. “They said you can’t just plop something in our community. But I was trying to explain to them that this is for the community, and now I think the local community is our biggest fan.”
From Japanese Takoyaki (octopus balls) from Karls Balls, to Trinidadian shark sandwiches from Caribbean Street Eats and Portuguese pastéis de nana (egg tarts), the annual Queens Night Market has cuisines to suit all palates at price of $6 or less, the market is also sure to suit all budgets.
The Queens Night Market happens every Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, from May 4 until October 26.
For a complete list of vendors and performers, see QueensNightMarket.com.