One of the biggest attractions that Astoria has to offer is the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden located in 24th avenue and 29th street. The Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden is the oldest beer garden in New York and celebrated its centennial in 2010. Construction of the beer and catering hall was initiated in 1910 but the beer garden was built in 1919. This garden is managed and run by the Bohemian Citizens’ Benevolent Society of Astoria. The Society was founded in 1892 in Astoria, Queens to promote and provide for the education of Czech and Slovak immigrants in the area as well as any connected to the Czech and Slovak ancestry. The Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, consists of huge indoor and outdoor bar complex that can implement 800 people. It is open all year and the bar serves Czech specialties with beer that is imported from Czech Republic and Slovakia. Some of these beers include: Golden Pheasant, Brou-czech, Pilsner Urquell, Krusovicem Czechvar and Staropramen. The Hall is able to host parties and events. The workers mostly speak both English and Czech with customers that are mostly middle aged and elder immigrants. The beer garden provides an ambiance of family and authentic Czech experience. Eric Krajkovic, of Long Island City tells Daily News about his experience of the beer garden by stating” You can come here when it’s packed by yourself and sit there at a table and get into a conversation with 30 other people.”
Although I cannot personally verify his claim, people who have frequented this area and are of close acquaintance have assured me that the Beer Garden not only provides quality beer, but also provides a friendly ambiance. “Beer Garden and Bohemian Hall definitely makes Astoria a more attractive place to tourists. It is a place for locals to lounge on a summer night and since they have outdoor seating you can enjoy the weather fully,” says Mrs. Faruq when asked about Beer Garden. In terms of experience she goes onto add “Everyone is friendly, so you can always meet new people and make new friends.” With two concurring accounts on the atmosphere of friendliness and overall positive reviews, the beer garden certainly seems to live up to its fame. On May 24, 2011, the Huffington Post published an article on the manager of the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, Larry Spacek. In the article he talks about how joining the Beer Garden staff was a payback to his heritage and although it’s challenging, he is satisfied with the job. The article ends with, “He gazes at the outdoor beer garden and marvels that something like this exists in the middle of the big city in this great country of America. ‘It is a gift of God,’ he says.”
This sentiment sums up the place of the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Astoria beautifully.
To read about Larry Spacek’s experience as an immigrant, go tohttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-ruhling/astoria-characters-the-beer-garden-host_b_863140.html.