By Kelsey Durham
When Jeremy Osslund decided to open his own bar, what to name it came easily: Pop Bar.
“It’s an homage to that feeling you get from the pop of a bottle of champagne, from pop art, popular culture, everything,” Osslund said. “You hear the word ‘pop’ and it can have so many different meanings to different people.”
Osslund, an Arizona native who now lives in Astoria, said there is a running joke in his family that he knew he wanted to open his own restaurant since the day he was born.
Though this will be his first venture as a restaurant owner, he has worked in the food business since he was 13 and attended culinary school before moving to New York to pursue career opportunities.
“When I was 7, I ran this restaurant in my backyard where I made these egg sandwiches and sold them to my friends for, like, a quarter,” he said. “I haven’t ever worked in any other industry because this is the one I’m most passionate about.”
About three months ago, Osslund found a location at 12-21 Astoria Blvd., just a few blocks from where he lives, that he knew was perfect for Pop Bar.
He quickly started planning his new business in hopes of turning it into a trendy hub for local art and music while providing nearby residents with a fun place to spend their evenings.
The bar held its grand opening July 4, a date Osslund planned purposely so the establishment would share its birthday with America, and featured a hot dog eating contest with prizes and live entertainment from local musicians.
But perhaps the most unique thing about the new bar, and what Osslund said is his favorite aspect, is its decor.
The inside has several sections of wall that feature murals painted by 5Pointz artists, who also spray painted the bar’s name on the doors outside. An artist from the famed graffiti group also spray painted a unique abstract design on the bar top, and Osslund even pitched in to help create a drip-style painting on the walls surrounding the restrooms in the bar’s downstairs level.
“I’ve always been really into art in general,” he said. “This neighborhood has a really strong art history and art is being created here every day, but we don’t always see that celebrated.”
Osslund also hung several pieces of art on one of the bar’s walls that he plans to use as a gallery, featuring works by local artists that are up for sale, and a piece was already sold two days before the bar opened.
He said he plans to refresh the work every two months to give more artists a chance to display their pieces and make a name for themselves in the community.
Though Pop Bar is just a week old so far, Osslund said he has already received dozens of calls about wedding receptions, baby showers, baptisms and other gatherings being held there, and the space even features an outdoor area where patrons can enjoy the summer weather while eating and drinking.
He said he plans to continue adding to the local aspects of the bar by adding more music, art and film to the day-to-day schedule of events, but for now he is focused on creating a fun hang-out for residents of what he said is an area with a “very bright” future as it continues to grow.
“I think of us as sort of an underdog bar,” Osslund said. “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.