Western Queens residents have a new place to drink, mingle and have brunch, thanks to a new Sunnyside bar that just had its soft opening on Aug. 19.
Ida’s Nearabout took over the location formerly occupied by Irish pub Molly Blooms at 43-13 Queens Blvd.
“I just love the neighborhood,” said Paul Longo, who owns Ida’s along with his brother, Westyn Longo, and Paul McDaid. “I think Sunnyside already has a great vibe as far as the types of people that live there, and the whole layout is super conducive to what’s coming next.”
Longo sees Sunnyside as the neighborhood “next in line” as a location for young people who are being priced out of places like Williamsburg and Long Island City. Queens Boulevard, in particular, is a “cool strip” in Sunnyside, which made it a great location for his new bar, Longo said.
What’s the story behind the bar’s unique name?
“My great-grandmother’s name is Ida, and I have a friend in Montana who has a ranch, and his mom had preserved this ranch wolf and had it taxidermied, and the name of the wolf was Ida as well,” Longo said. When Longo’s friend moved, he gave Longo the taxidermied wolf.
“My great-grandmother is 105 years old — she’s still alive — and it kind of worked out, and I thought, OK, maybe this is some weird sort of sign, let’s go with ‘Ida’s,’” Longo said. Now, Ida the wolf is mounted above the bar.
What about the second half of the bar’s name? “I’m kind of a blues freak, and a ‘nearabout’ is a blues term which comes from an old song, and it’s like you’re almost somewhere,” Longo said. “Like, you’re nearabout Sunnyside, you’re hanging around, you’re just about to be somewhere. I think it’s a really cool term that I hope catches on.”
Ida’s Nearabout will be playing upbeat music at night, but listen for obscure blues tracks playing during brunch, along with some reggae.
“I love playing different kinds of music,” Longo said. “It won’t just be a nerdy Top 40s bar. We put a lot of thought into the playlist.”
Ida’s has 12 draft beers on tap and an “awesome bottled beer list,” Longo said, and the beers will rotate so that people can try new things. There’s also a full cocktail menu with “an emphasis on really well-made, simple classics” and a wine list curated by a sommelier.
The bar’s full menu, described by Longo as “elevated new American food,” debuted at the beginning of September, with an emphasis on appetizers and shared plates.
“Our chef is really cool,” Longo said. “We’re going to tie in some element of Southern influence, that sort of blues, Creole, Cajun vibe.” That means you’ll find a fried chicken sandwich and biscuits there as well as a peel-and-eat shrimp share dish with Southern seasoning. “It’s just going to be hearty and good, and we’ll mix in some healthy stuff as well.”
The kitchen is open till midnight on weekdays and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
There’s a separate menu for brunch, which is available on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 10 a.m. Brunch offerings includes items such as chicken and waffles, a grain bowl, a granola bowl, and “a really slamming, simple bacon, egg and cheese,” Longo said.
When the weather’s nice, diners can enjoy brunch in the back garden. The backyard adds a homey feel to Ida’s, as do design elements such as old Americana images and hand-painted panels underneath the front of the bar.
There’s a big copper ice well in the center of the bar that both acts as an accent piece and chills beer glasses and wines.
Ida’s will host a grand opening bash in the coming months, but you don’t have to wait until then to check out this great new neighborhood bar. It’s open now, so grab a drink and don’t forget to say hi to Ida.