Remember when there could be large gatherings of facemask-free people for purely recreational purposes with no guilt trips? I know, the memory is fading. I remember them, though. I regretted I couldn’t make my annual pilgrimage to Bohemian Hall, just a couple of blocks from the Astoria Boulevard N/W train at 24th Avenue and 31st Street, this year.
For many Astoria denizens, lazy summer evenings mean downing pitcher after pitcher of pilsner, seated on wooden picnic tables in the concrete beer garden of Bohemian Hall to an oompah soundtrack. (Any embarrassing behavior can’t be viewed past the high brick walls!) The 24th Avenue institution was opened by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society in 1910 and its garden by 1919, when most of Astoria was still meadow and farmland. The menu has to be carefully scrutinized, as the large print is in Czech and the small print in English. The beer garden is the last of a once-numerous New York City breed. Flessel’s Tavern in College Point hung in there till 1997; the Bohemian, thankfully, looks like it will be here for some time yet, and it has been joined by new exterior beer gardens in places like Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
During the Covid crisis, exterior dining has become popular because the interiors were closed down for much of the year, so many restaurants have erected mini beer gardens on sidewalks and curbsides. How successful these will be between November and April is conjecturable. I hope they do succeed, or we’ll lose a lot of restaurants. This week in 2020, thanks to global warming or whatever, we expect several days of 70+ degree weather, which will be a boon for them.
For those who nitpick these things, and there are plenty, yes, I have written about the Bohemian before. I have used the same language. Forgotten New York is now 21+ years old, and sometimes I repeat things. I respectfully request that it be dealt with by everyone.