Feb. 6, 2013 By Bill Parry
While hotels have been built in the Dutch Kills section of LIC at a rapid pace, the bar and restaurant scene has been slow to take off.
Two men hope to change that through the opening of a new pub/restaurant. They are opening the Windmill Tap & Grill, located at 38-40 29th Street, in March.
The owners are two longtime friends — Dominic Stiller and Paul Cohen— who have been revamping the historic tavern for more than a year.
“Back in the 80’s this was called Just A Pub,” Cohen said, adding that “in the 40’s it was Victor’s Bar & Grill.” Cohen said that it might have been a pub as far back as the late 1880s.
The pub will feature craft beers from local breweries, such as Singlecut Beersmiths in Astoria. Cohen said the kitchen “will serve up American comfort food with a global twang.” Such dishes, he said, would include corned beef sandwiches garnished with Korean kimchi.
“If you go two blocks in any direction you’ll find hotels full of world travelers,” Cohen said. “We’re giving them a place to eat, while providing neighborhood residents with a meeting place of their own.”
Noni Pratt, who lives two doors up 29th St., has stopped by daily to visit Stiller and Cohen during the long and expensive renovation.
“The whole community has been waiting for these guys to open,” Pratt said, adding “We’re such a lovely and close knit neighborhood: we can’t wait to have a place to sit together.”
Cohen said the pub won’t be filled with TV screens. “We want to bring conversation back and make it fashionable,” he said.
Cohen has spent the last 35 years as a bartender and world traveler. “I’d bar tend for six months and save my money,” he said, “and then go see the world for six months at a time.” Cohen guesses he’s been to 30-40 different countries over the years, but he’s looking to settle down after getting married last year.
Stiller, meanwhile, is the newly-appointed president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, which is a community-based group that focuses on improving that section of Long Island City.
Stiller, who is a structural engineer by trade, recently planted 19 trees in an attempt to beautify the area, and views the Windmill Tap & Grill as playing a role in bettering the area.“I’ve been renovating and restoring the building since we first spotted it after Thanksgiving of 2011,” Stiller said. “However, to turn it into a nice pub I needed Paul [Cohen] on board.”