Astoria Bier and Cheese opens in Ditmars

By Alex Robinson

Ditmars craft beer and cheese lovers no longer have to make the trek down to Broadway to get their fix.

Astoria Bier and Cheese opened a second location, at 35-11 Ditmars Blvd., last week after it became apparent many of their customers came from the northern part of the neighborhood.

“We felt there was definitely a need and a void on the other side of Astoria,” said Rick White, a co-owner of the second location.

Musician and entrepreneur Yang Gao started the original store, at 34-14 Broadway, after he realized there were not any full-service cheese shops in the neighborhood.

Astoria Bier and Cheese serves 10 craft beers on tap on a rotating basis, more than 250 beers in bottles, around 80 cheeses and a menu of charcuterie, sandwiches and snacks.

Drinkers can enjoy their suds on site or take them home in growlers, gallon jugs the store sells.

The Ditmars location will have a similar menu to the Broadway store, with larger refrigerators allowing for a bigger selection of beer, cheese and charcuterie.

“The concept is the same. The design is similar, but we’re going to have a lot more of everything,” White said.

The new spot will have 12 beers on tap, more than 300 types of bottled brew and many of the old favorites from the Broadway menu.

“We want to make sure that right out of the gate we’re meeting expectations,” White said. “We look forward to expanding on the menu eventually.”

If the winter ever ends, the new shop will also have a backyard twice the size of the other location’s garden, where drinkers can enjoy their libations.

White, a chef by profession who worked for Whole Foods for 10 years, served as a consultant when Gao was looking to open the first store and helped him find a cheese monger. He decided to become a part owner of the second location when he saw how successful Gao’s venture became after it opened in fall 2012.

Gao approached White at the Astoria Bier and Cheese’s one-year anniversary celebration and told him about a vacant building he was considering for a new store. The two went to go look at the site the next day and signed a lease within a couple weeks.

The owners are open to expanding in other neighborhoods, but said they do not want to get ahead of themselves.

“You’ve got to be able to walk before you can run,” White said. “It’s important to develop consistency and execution in the quality of the product you can put out before you can move forward to other things.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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