Walk by The Beast Next Door Bar & Café in Long Island City on a chilly night this fall, and you’ll probably be tempted to go inside. The giant windows on the façade give you a peek indoors, where a mural on the back wall lends a warm glow to the interior, and the wood-beamed ceiling gives the place a rustic feel.
If you stop by on any given Saturday night, you’ll find patrons scattered around the low-lit venue, laughing aloud during a comedy show or tapping their feet to the music of a local band or musician, such as Telecommand, The Cabinetmakers, Alexandra Tejeda Rieloff, Beecher’s Fault or Mama Juke (just to name a few).
The bar and café, which opened in December 2014, has become a community staple in just two years, holding events such as fundraisers, presidential debate-watching parties, a monthly show by Monster City Standup Comedy, and live music performances.
“We try to find bands that do original music, rock, funk, blues, jazz, punk. Some of our bands are local — from LIC, Astoria — some from Brooklyn and the city,” said Demet Basar, one of the owners of The Beast Next Door. “We are always looking for original, local talent.”
She and her husband, John Veenema, moved to Long Island City in 2009. The couple aimed to open a neighborhood bar in the growing community and eventually found their space on 27th Street. The location they picked “had a lot of potential,” Basar said, and allowed them to create the neighborhood bar that they envisioned for the community.
“It was an open, raw space, formerly a Latin dance studio and a garage before that, so we could build it out and decorate it to our taste,” she said.
Look closely at some of the furnishings and you’ll see that the couple has added some unique touches. The benches along the wall are old church pews that the owners turned the other way, while most of the tabletops are wooden pallets from the ’40s that were salvaged from an abandoned industrial building on Jackson Avenue. Basar said that “almost every piece has a past history,” while other things like the bar and the shelves were built by Veenema.
Even in the short few years that it has been in western Queens, The Beast Next Door has gained some recognition; it was named one of LIC’s best bars by Culture Trip.
The bar has a charcuterie menu, gourmet sandwiches, salads and house specials. It serves specialty and classic cocktails, wines and craft beers.
First and foremost, the couple wants The Beast Next Door to be a place for the community to socialize, where people can have a good time with their friends, Veenema said.
He added that he’s proud of the business that he and his wife have created, especially since it is their first time running a business.
“We are fine-tuning things to fit the needs of the community,” he said. “The area is still growing and we are trying to still be there as the community grows, and we hope to grow with the community.”
“We love being part of this community because it is eclectic,” Basar said. “Many artists live and work around here. Because it is a growing neighborhood, there is a sense of excitement as more and more people are doing creative things.”
The Beast Next Door Cafe & Bar
42-51 27th St., Long Island City