Dominic Stiller wears many hats in Dutch Kills
Dominic Stiller wears many hats in the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City.
A civil engineer by trade, Stiller is president of DSENY Building Services and has served as president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association for the last year. He is now also a restaurateur after opening Dutch Kills Centraal last fall.
“I moved to Dutch Kills in 2008 and in the two years I spent renovating the building that serves as both home and headquarters for my company. I realized there was no good place to eat or drink around here,” Stiller said.
The industrial stretch of LIC, just north of Queensboro Plaza, was rezoned in 2008 to allow for more residential development. Some 15 hotels have been built or are under construction, but restaurants and bars have been slow to fill the void.
Stiller saw an opportunity when he found a building in 2011, just blocks away from his home and office. The building, at 38-40 29th St., turned out to have quite a history. In the 1940s it was home to Victor’s Bar & Grill, one of actor Jackie Gleason’s favorite hangouts. Next it became Scotty’s, where a young Roseanne Barr once performed stand-up. Finally, it was Just a Pub before closing down and falling into disrepair in the ’80s.
During an extended renovation, Stiller kept the original floor and bar, and people would always stop in to get updates on when it might open.
“I knew everyone was looking forward to a place where everyone could meet, a sort of community living room — a place where neighbors could meet neighbors as well as eat and drink,” Stiller said.
He decided to use the Dutch word for Central — Centraal — because “I want it to be the central meeting point in the neighborhood, the central place for people to go.”
The restaurant features a long Viking table where strangers are encouraged to strike up conversation. The food is American comfort food with many seasonal and local ingredients sourced from The Brooklyn Grange, the 2-acre rooftop farm atop the Standard Motor Parts Building, at 38-17 Northern Blvd. The full bar offers up to six craft beers on tap with many more in bottles.
Dutch Kills Centraal also extended its menu and hours after adding chef Matt Lundquist to the kitchen after he spent five years at Manhattan’s Waterfront Ale House.
“Lunchtime is starting to really pick up,” Stiller said. “It’s already feeling like a more neighborly feel around here.”
When he took over as president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association in January 2013, one of the first things Stiller did was plant 19 trees, part of his mission to make the neighborhood more livable and walkable. He thinks the next step is getting Citi Bikes to that part of LIC.
“We think Citi Bikes will make it more walkable because more bikes mean people are driving less,” he said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538
New Gastro Pub in the Dutch Kills Area of L.I.C. Local hub, area game-changer, dedicated to our community and beyond!
More than a pub with a history, we believe in the finest quality food and drink, sustainable furnishings and an original bar and floor tiles dating back to the 1940’s.
After renovating a nearby limestone house in 2008, engineer, community leader, and Queens native Dominic Stiller and his wife Jean longed for a local neighborhood spot that simply served great food and drinks. Mr. Stiller envisioned a place reminiscent of European local pubs where everyone could gather to drink a pint, and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. His vision and basic need inspired the creation of Dutch Kills Centraal. Two years later it’s one of the most celebrated dining spots in Queens, directly in the center of Dutch Kills neighborhood of Long Island City. To our knowledge Dutch Kills Centraal began as Victor’s Bar & Grill in the 1940’s, a place where Jackie Gleason was rumored to be a regular. The original Arts and Craft tiles and Art Deco mahogany bar suggest otherwise placing it between 1915 and 1925. At some point, it was known as Scotty’s where Rosanne Barr performed her stand-up act. Renamed Just A Pub, the local haunt suffered a long decline until it eventually closed. In 2012, the bar was salvaged and underwent major renovations re-opening as Dutch Kills Centraal. Dutch Kills Centraal is not affiliated with any other bar or restaurant.
Dutch Kills Centraal strives to welcome locals and travelers alike. Cold beer, cocktails and great food greet folks from all over the world. More than a bar or restaurant, Our menu is comprised of innovative comfort foods utilizing local purveyors and organic products. Beers on tap are from local breweries that rotate seasonally, as does our cocktail menu; our wines are affordable and selected to match the menu. The interior promotes the use of sustainable furnishings. Nearly all of our seating was sourced from Build It Green, the light fixtures are wine bottles, and the front door was proudly salvaged out of the trash of a local school needing a fresh coat of paint. Each choice was based on our commitment to the preserve the environment. The original bar and floor tiles were restore to pristine condition giving the space a unique and timeless charm. With so many ways to give back to a neighborhood, opening Dutch Kills Centraal is ours. As the neighborhood develops as a hub for travelers and residents alike, we hope everyone has a chance to experience our hospitality.