A place that would be packed in Manhattan was literally empty aside from the bartender on a Saturday evening. Granted, it was really early in the evening, but still–good drinks, 2 for 1…it doesn’t really matter what time it is.
Which is something I both dislike and enjoy about Astoria. On the one hand, you can enter an interesting-looking space, have your choice of any of the 12 couches set up around the perimeter, order a delicious drink, and not see another human being. That’s cool, albeit surreal. But on the other hand–you don’t see another human being! The only reason you’re even there in the first place is because 2 of your friends have finally dragged themselves from Manhattan for the short train ride into the middle of nowhere (seriously, it’s not that inconvenient, but to a Manhattan snob it might as well be Wisconsin). They view the bar like an exhibit at a museum: something worth seeing just to say you’ve seen it but that quickly loses its novelty after about 5 minutes, at which point you’re ready to go home and find something more acceptable to do with your time.
I get it. I truly do. Up until a couple of years ago, I refused to go to Queens except for its beer garden and its airports. I appreciate that to many, it’s a trek to unfamiliar territory, which in itself can be frightening, but especially in NYC when familiarity is the one thing that helps keep you from freaking out about the MILLIONS OF PEOPLE and FRUSTRATING TRANSIT and TOURISTS IN THE WAY EVERYWHERE. Familiarity is what you cling to because otherwise you would go crazy with the strangeness of every new situation.
So I understand the hesitancy. But that doesn’t mean I like it.
Then again, if it’s what keeps a bar that would otherwise be uncomfortably packed on a Saturday evening from becoming too crowded to enjoy, who am I to complain?