I’m not a big roast beef guy, so when I visit places like Roll & Roaster in Sheepshead Bay and Arby’s, I have other items on the menu. I was all set to order my chicken sandwich at the Arby’s on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village one afternoon when I spotted a mural depicting what had been there before Arby’s arrived.
East of 69th Street there is a brief interruption in All-Faiths Cemetery on the south side of Metropolitan. Currently the space is filled by a medical lab and by an Arby’s, which, on one of the rocks guarding a driveway, there is an etching depicting a lengthy, two-story restaurant called Niederstein’s which formerly occupied the space. And within, there’s this mural depicting the roadhouse.
Built by Henry Schumacher about 1854, this building became John Niederstein’s hotel and restaurant in 1888. It originally served as a rest stop patronized by those hauling their goods between Jamaica and Williamsburg(h) via the former turnpike now called Metropolitan Avenue. In the 1970’s the hotel was modernized by its new owners, who removed the porch and carriage sheds to make way for small parking lots. It ceased functioning as a hotel many years ago.
Niederstein’s served typical German fare and in recent years catered mainly to funeral and wedding parties as well as loyal locals. There was no joy in “Midville” when the restaurant closed in February of 2005 and was sold to a fast food franchisee. Arby’s eventually razed the building. Over the years its interior and exterior had been altered to such a degree that it was deemed unworthy of protection by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Just east of here is one of NYC’s last taxidermists.