By Matthew Monks
The owner of Neiderstein's acknowledged last week that he had found a buyer for the 140-year-old German eatery at 69-16 Metropolitan Ave., but he would not disclose the new proprietor's plans or identity. “I don't know,” said Rainer Herrink. “I don't have a closing date. Therefore, I cannot comment.” He then hung up the phone.Civic leader Bob Holden said Herrink's associates believe the Middle Village landmark, a former hotel built in 1865, might be bulldozed for an Arby's franchise. Arby's spokeswoman Cathie Koch would only say the chain would like to expand in Queens after its successful Fresh Meadows branch opened in 2002.”That's a franchise area for us and we are looking for another site,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday from the company's Florida headquarters. If that next site is the patch of land Neiderstein's occupies at the corner of 69th Street, then the neighborhood will be swapping signature pork medallions and Hungarian goulash for the fast food joint's Arby-Q and Beef 'n Chedder roast beef sandwiches.The prospect turns Holden's stomach. “That would be tragic,” the president of the Juniper Park Civic Association said. “Fast food in place of Neiderstein's would be an insult.”City Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) concurred. “It's incredibly disappointing. Neiderstein's is a focal point – a key to the history of Middle Village,” Gallagher said. “To lose it potentially to a developer that would probably want to rip it down and put something in its place would be an absolute crying shame.”He said he has attended countless functions at the restaurant, including a gathering after his father's funeral. “Neiderstein's is rich with history and rich with memories for people who live in the Middle Village and Maspeth communities,” Gallagher said. In the late 1800s, the restaurant was a gathering point for Ridgewood's large German population, hosting funeral receptions, parties, weddings and banquets. It switched hands several times. Rainer acquired it in 1969 and oversaw an extensive remodeling, but preserved its antique fixtures, including stained glass windows, wooden doorways and oil paintings. Holden said he hopes that the new owner will donate the vintage items to the Greater Ridgewood Historical Society if the structure is leveled. Both he and Gallagher said they plan to fight any out-of-character proposals for the property. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.