August 13, Staff Report
Starting next month Astoria residents won’t have to travel far to feel like they are drinking at a tropical resort.
“The High Water,” a tropical-themed bar to be located at 34-20 Broadway, will officially hold a grand opening over Labor Day weekend, with a soft opening to take place in the days leading up to September.
The bar is being billed as a destination venue for Astoria residents who wish to relax and escape to a friendly atmosphere staffed with bartenders and employees skilled in hospitality and customer service.
“We want this to be a vacation from your home at any time of the year,” co-owner George Spilke said.
In line with the establishment’s tropical theme, the grand opening will be called “The Labor Day Weekend Brunch Luau” and will take place from September 2 to September 4 between noon and 4:00 pm. $30 includes all-you-can-eat “luau” food, one cocktail and an entry into a raffle drawing. An after party will follow each night from 4:00 pm to closing.
The entire weekend will be sponsored by and feature drinks from 21st Amendment Brewery.
The bar concept is a venture between Spilke and his partner Dave Chan, who owns and operates two Hawaiian and Japanese themed eateries named Makana in Manhattan.
This will be Chan’s first bar in Queens, and the first establishment that Spilke has an ownership stake in.
“We both met in college about 17 years ago and came to New York from Seattle where Hawaiian food and drinks are really big,” Spilke said.
Spilke said when he moved to Astoria three years ago, he adapted to the neighborhood very quickly because of friendly neighbors and the culture of acceptance he experienced. His wish was to open a bar that mimicked what made him feel so welcome.
“I kept a small window open during light construction to speak with neighbors and curious bystanders so I could introduce myself and get the word out about the bar,” Spilke said.
“The key to any great place is the standard of service you and your team set, and we’re a small team of really cool people who want to create a fun, inviting environment for the community.” he added.
Gabriel Colom-Rocha, a mixologist born on the island of Mallorca, Spain, and three-year long Astoria resident, is one such team member. With over 8 years of experience serving drinks around the world, he said he’s excited to meet their neighbors and introduce new cocktails that will be made exclusively at The High Water.
“I live so close to the bar, and since I moved here, I’ve noticed that some places are too serious, became too big, or changed bartenders too frequently,” Colom-Rocha said. “We want to be the link that Astoria needs, with the perfect size, location and the same bartenders you saw the night before.”
Some of the drinks he intends to introduce include the Hallet’s Revenge, a spin on the “Queens Cocktail” that features gin and pineapple juice infused with jalapeno, tahini seasoning and habanero salt.
Another cocktail called the Chuck Norris will also be quietly introduced.
“All I can say is that it’s a ginger drink with a mean kick,” Spilke said.
While the food menu is still being finalized, the co-owners brought in a man named Dionne Wilson as their executive chef.
Wilson, who completed his externship at the five star French restaurant Per Se, worked as an executive chef at Bar Bacon in Hell’s Kitchen. He then worked for the world-famous Ippudo ramen chain, where he helped that company open its second New York City location.
Note: The High Water is an advertiser on the Astora Post.