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All photos: Maria Gotay/QNS
All photos: Maria Gotay/QNS

From the outside, the quaint little corner of Cypress Avenue and Woodbine Street looks quiet and private; white curtains shield glass windows and big double doors hold the chatter of the bar quietly inside. Once you find your way in, however, it’s a different story: you’re greeted with rows of books, shelves of knickknacks, cozy couches, a faux fireplace and a friendly crew of regulars. Welcome to your new living room.

That’s the concept of The Bad Old Days, a bar that opened six months ago by co-owners Rina Haverly and Sonja Lutniki, who met as bartenders at Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side.

“Not everyone is comfortable in their home and with their roommates. We wanted to create a gathering place where you can choose who you hang out with,” Haverly explained. “It’s been interesting to see how the community knits itself together in this space.”

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Co-owner Rina Haverly

At The Bad Old Days you can’t go wrong: a fantastic happy hour till 8 p.m. of $4 drafts, $5 wells and $6 glasses of wine, coupled with a short but succulent menu of comfort food favorites, like pulled pork sliders, wings, and vegetarian options like black bean tacos and chickpea sliders.

The secret to the almost-famous wing sauce recipe? Tumeric, says self-proclaimed “food MacGyver” of the bar Dylan Finch, who used his background working with Persian food to give the bar menu a few spicy twists.

Full of odds and ends, The Bad Old Days is a throwback to the 1950s living room of the Midwestern grandparents you never had — a “kitschy, kooky era of Americana” as Haverly described. From a library full of hardbacks and comic books, stacks of board games, and various tchotchkes, there’s plenty to look at, and lots of mid-century furniture to cozy up on.

The bar is always at least half-full of chatty regulars coming for an after-work drink and snack, like Jose, a mailman who’s lived on the block for the past 30 years, who swears the pulled pork is the best he’s had. Here, he met Jai, another neighbor and recent Ridgewood transplant living on the same small block. They’ve formed a friendship within the exposed brick walls of the cozy watering hole, which is providing a gathering place for people of all backgrounds in the neighborhood.

“It’s become my second living room,” Jai said, smiling.

Jose agreed, gesturing to the brick walls, and the pulled pork in front of him. “You’re home,” he said.

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The Bad Old Days is located at 1684 Woodbine Ave., Ridgewood, Queens. Open Sunday – Wednesday 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Thursday – Saturday 2  p.m. to 3 a.m.

 

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