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How a Foodie and Business Promoter in Queens Spends His Sundays

Dirk McCall de Palomá is a serious epicurean seeker of spicy and ethnic food, and a passionate connector of people. For the past two years, he has also been the executive director at the Sunnyside Shines business improvement district, a nonprofit funded by the city that promotes Sunnyside, Queens, as a destination.

“I help businesses and empower communities,” said Mr. McCall de Palomá, 55, who plans cultural celebrations. “People come to me with problems; I find solutions.”

The foodie in him loves that he runs the Taste of Sunnyside Restaurant Week.

He grew up in Georgia, then migrated to New York in 1991 to attend graduate school at Columbia University for political science. In 1994, he began renting his one-bedroom apartment in Astoria, Queens, on the top floor of a four-story walk-up.

“In your 30s it’s OK because you think: ‘This is great exercise. My butt looks great,” he said. “Once I hit my 40s, I realized I should be living on the first floor. Now that I’m in my 50s, I wish I had an elevator.”

Still, his love for his neighborhood overrides the grueling climb, which has also made him really good at not forgetting anything upstairs. He lives with his 12-year-old Norwegian Forest mix cat, Herbert.

NATURAL RISE My body kicks in around 6 a.m. and wakes me up. I don’t drink coffee. I’m from Georgia — I drink Diet Coke. People are surprised when I tell them, but it’s got caffeine. I also want the fizzy. Then I feed Herbert, who’s a large, fluffy, vocal boy with opinions on everything and expects breakfast once he sees me moving around.

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