FLESSEL’S OF COLLEGE POINT

by Kevin Walsh

14th Road and 119th Street was the location of an undeclared landmark in College Point, Queens for 127 years ­ before most of Queens was even settled. Flessel’s was there when Queens was double its current size ­ including all of Nassau County ­ and before it was a part of New York City. It was built during the Ulysses S. Grant administration and was there before the Brooklyn Bridge connected Long Island to New York City.

But Flessel’s didn’t make it into the 21st Century.

 

I had long known about Flessel’s, even before I moved to Queens a number of years ago, from its description in Willensky and White’s AIA Guide To New York City in 1989 ­ and always admired its out-of-time quality. After moving to Queens, I had always talked about getting up to Flessel’s for a drink or a meal.

But it never happened. Flessel’s closed for good in December 1998, and recently, the property was sold, and the building was demolished.

 

From Peter Zaremba’s article in Time Out New York, April 22, 1999:

If you entered the bar through the front doors, instead of the through the former ladies’ entrance at the side, you mounted a wooden porch where horses had once been tethered (left). Inside, you could order a tall glass of Dinkel Acker and steady yourself against the solid onyx bar rail, polished by the hands of more than a century’s worth of tipplers.

As a breeze from the gently turning ceiling fan cooled your head, you could admire the beveled glass behind the bar and listen to the sound of footsteps on the solid wooden floors or the clack of colliding billiard balls.

 

Here is a view of the side porch and former “ladies’ entrance.”


Closer view of the side porch.

If this was Flessel’s, why is there a letter “W” on the base of the porch columns?

The building that later became Flessel’s Restaurant was originally built by Joseph Witzel, a College Point landowner who also built a long-gone amusement park called Point View Island in Whitestone. Probably the only reminder of Joseph Witzel’s former holdings in the area is the “W” on the columns of Flessel’s Restaurant.

 

While Flessel’s dates from the 1870s, its newer neon sign was a golden oldie in its own right, having hung from the side of the building since the 1930s.

 

College Point, at one time, was a fashionable summer resort and still has a number of Victorian-era buildings as reminder of those forgotten days.

Over the years, the building changed hands. It has been used as both a hotel, bar and restaurant throughout its long history. It has been known as Witzel’s, Eifel’s and then, Flessel’s over the years. German food and drink was a specialty as a rule.

 

Side view of Flessel’s. Oak trees that were almost as old as the building itself were chopped down, a precursor to the razing of Flessel’s itself.

Incredibly, Flessel’s was never named a landmark by New York City, which would have saved it from extinction. Local preservationist Paul Graziano said in an interview with the Whitestone Times in June 1999:

“It’s a perfect example of a building that should have been landmarked 30 years ago but because of the politics in Queens, it never was.” Flessel’s “is truly, along with the Poppenhusen [Institute], the heart of the College Point community. If you talk to anybody in that town, not only will they know it, they probably had their wedding there.”

 

 

There are now a group of nondescript houses where there once was Flessel’s.

Sources:

Peter Zaremba in Time Out New York, April 22-29, 1999
Brian Lockhart in the Whitestone Times, June 24, 1999
Willensky and White, AIA Guide To New York City, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988

Place Matters: Flessel’s
College Point Memories contains a lovingly rendered description of Flessel’s.

7/22/1999; revised 6/12/12

17 comments

Evelyn Fleischer Knott February 21, 2014 - 10:10 am

Marty Fleischer (skin) was my dad. Loretta Motz is my sister. I have alot of memories of Flessel’s College Point NY

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suzanne reek February 15, 2015 - 10:08 pm

How is Loretta doing? She was always a great host and wonderful person

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Ken June 21, 2018 - 1:28 am

I knew Charlie and Loretta and the Children well. John the bartender and Tommy Charlie’s nephew. it wasa fun place to work PT and to hang out.

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Kathleen November 19, 2014 - 5:49 pm

What a terrible shame. Someone got very rich from tearing and building.And what happened to the beautiful bar that was there.? Anything left anywhere ?My grandmother was born there in the late 1800.
I went there often for there German food. Like Neidersteins, now just a memory.
Kathleen.

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Ralph Matzel January 24, 2015 - 11:16 am

THE FOOD WAS OUT STANDING THE BUILDING WITHOUT A DOUBT HAD A LOT OF CHOM

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Anonymous September 25, 2018 - 2:32 pm

I rescued a tavern chair!
We wanted to dismantle and save the bar but was denied.

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john laudadio February 14, 2015 - 9:58 am

Perfect example of greed! Someone saw a chance to build a few homes on that lot and went with it! The city fathers dropped the ball, that place should have definitely been designated as ;historic. I grew up in The Point, remember that place fondly!

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Gail Steiner November 2, 2015 - 9:40 pm

We all have great memories of The College Point where we grew up. The contractors have demolished all the charm that made College Point a wonderful place to live. it was beautiful. then one by one they demolished all the larger homes – etc.
Flessel’s was the family dining place.,

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Julie May 10, 2017 - 2:56 pm

Is this the same Gail Steiner from 121 Street? If so this is Julie Horn Freschauf from 121 Street. Our family loved Flessel’s too!

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Chuck Kotsay June 17, 2017 - 5:00 pm

So sad to hear that Flessel’s was torn down. I worked there as a dishwasher in 1976-77 while I was in high school. The Motz family was great to work for and the food was delicious. I have fond memories of my best childhood friend, Ricky Motz making us thick roast beef sandwiches to take home the end of the night when we closed up. Great restaurant, great family!!

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Jerry Mykitschak March 26, 2018 - 8:26 pm

Hey Chuck, you must be related to Joe or Mike or Helen or another of the Kotsays from 14th road.
My parents owned the Old Rendezvous on the corner next to the firehouse in the 60’s and 70’s.
Jerry Mykitschak

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William Morrison June 27, 2017 - 4:25 pm

Actually that bar rail was Agate. Although Agate and Onyx are very similar. How do I know? My father in law tended bar behind it for over 20 years! lol. My mother in law and Loretta Motz were “sistas”.

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Ken June 21, 2018 - 1:30 am

Was that John Timms? Great place

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Helen hunt March 7, 2019 - 4:52 am

Our family had dinner there before we moved to Florida in 1991.it was wonderful as usual.

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Judi Hunt March 9, 2019 - 2:48 pm

Had many lunch and family dinners at Flessels. My Aunt workedthere in late 1980s. Still miss their German food and a good lobster!

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Jim May 23, 2020 - 3:35 pm

This is Jim dancy, I grew up in College point on 116th Street between 14th road and 14th avenue. I have many fond memories of flessels. Does anybody remember the big beer garden on 14th avenue right at the curve heading into Whitestone?

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J Grady June 29, 2020 - 12:09 am

A great place to eat the German top notch servings.

Lived in CP for over twenty years. A great place until the developers came in Always went to Milk Bard for the pickles.

Reply

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