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Discover Tootles & French the Astoria wine bar that continues to delight 

Photo courtesy of Tootles & French

Mar. 5, 2024 By Staff Report

Chad Goldsmith, the owner of specialty wine bar Tootles & French in Astoria, has seen his establishment evolve since it first opened its doors ten months ago. 

The wine bar, located at 36-15 Ditmars Blvd. in a space previously occupied by McCann’s Pub, has been serving the Astoria community with an ever-changing wine and food menu in its first year, while it has also grown into a first-class events space. 

Photo provided by Tootles & French

Goldsmith said it was always his intention to change menus every few months but added that he did not expect Tootles & French to become so food and liquor-focused within the first year. 

He said the wine bar boasts around 15 craft gins, which he has used to create a Negroni bar, in addition to a number of high-end brandies, including a bottle of Calvados (an apple brandy from the Normandy region of France) and a 1964 vintage Italian brandy. 

Since opening, Tootles & French has also stocked one of the largest Amaro selections in New York City and a variety of Vermouth aperitifs, while it serves around 20 wines by the glass and over 200 wines by the bottle. 

Photo provided by Tootles & French

Goldsmith has adapted the wine bar’s menu in response to the local community. 

“We’re here for the community, not for ourselves,” Goldsmith said. “We are going to provide what’s wanted.” 

Goldsmith prides himself on running a community-orientated business, stating that Tootles & French collaborates with local businesses rather than competing with them. 

“There’s a large enough population in Astoria to go around,” he said. “We opened to be part of this neighborhood not to compete with them. So we do collaborations with pretty much everyone and we can work with everyone.

“Our first instinct with any business is what can we do together.” 

Goldsmith carries that philosophy into his business dealings, emphasizing the need for face-to-face interaction with suppliers. 

“I need to know who’s doing it. I need to know that they care about what they’re doing, not just about their money, because if I’m going to care about what they’re doing, they need to care as well. I need to know that the people making these products aren’t cutting corners.” 

He also emphasizes the need to support small and independent vineyards and distillers, especially those owned by women and minority groups. 

“We have a very diverse staff and we try to represent them,” Goldsmith said. “Our chef is from Mexico, so our food menu has some Mexican influences.

Photo provided by Tootles & French

“We are a heavily female staff. Of course, we’re going to feature female produced items. We’re an LGBT-owned business, so we’re going to feature wines and spirits that are produced from that end.”

Goldsmith said Queens was the most diverse place in the world, adding that he tries to represent as many different ethnicities and communities as possible. 

His restaurant predominately stocks rare wines that are unlikely to be found on a supermarket shelf, including wines from Serbia and Armenia and Japanese wines made using grapes picked in Japan. 

Depending on the season, Tootles & French also carries a number of incredibly rare wines, including an ultra-rare bottle of white Barolo wine – made using red Nebbiolo grapes that have been de-skinned and thinned to make them white. 

Goldsmith said Tootles & French was the first location in the US to offer the rare wine, adding that only four locations carry it at present. 

“A lot of them are wines you can’t even order on the internet. They’re incredibly difficult to get.” 

Staff at the wine bar are also prepared to talk wine novices through the vast selection on offer at Tootles & French, Goldsmith said. 

“There are 6,500 wine grapes,” Goldsmith said. “People tend to drink the same five to nine, like Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc.” 

The wine bar at Tootles & French Photo provided by Tootles & French

He said his staff are trained to suggest alternatives to the most popular grapes, giving people a chance to expand their palates. 

However, Tootles & French is far more than just a wine bar, additionally offering a mouth-watering selection of charcuterie, cheese boards, small plates, sandwiches and entrees that have been selected to compliment the restaurant’s many wines. 

Goldsmith said he spends about a month painstakingly crafting the restaurant’s seasonal menus, combining foods with certain wines to create an optimal experience for guests. 

The wine bar additionally offers a range of gelato made in-house, with guests invited to take “gelato flights”, allowing them to sample a number of delicious flavors such as spicy ginger and strawberries and cream. 

Meanwhile, Tootles & French hosts weekly stand-up comedy evenings from 10 p.m. until midnight in a private event space at the back of the wine bar. 

The event, which can hold up to 32 people, features a special late-night menu with discounted espresso martinis and “nightcap” cocktails and drinks. 

Local comedy troupe Only Friends, which formed specially to perform at the stand-up comedy nights, performs at Tootles & French every second Saturday, with special guests performing on alternate Saturdays. 

The bar also hosts a Ru Paul’s Drag Race Watch Party in the private events space every Friday night, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and guests able to avail of table service. 

Furthermore, Tootles & French has launched brunch on weekends and also hosts several special events throughout the year, inviting winemakers to host dinner parties and providing classes on how to pair wine and cheese. 

Charcuterie board at Tootles & French. Photo provided by Tootles & French

Goldsmith said the Astoria community has been “incredibly supportive” of the business since it opened its doors last year, stating that locals are happy to support independent, locally-owned businesses rather than chains and franchises. 

We’ve had an overwhelming amount of support from the community,” he said. “So many people come to our events and at holiday season, we get so many people getting gift cards, which is such a nice sign.” 

He said roughly 50 percent of customers return to the wine bar within three weeks but added that he is aiming to draw more first-time customers by changing perceptions about Tootles & French. 

Goldsmith believes that some potential customers experience “price shock” when they look through the windows and see the exquisitely-decorated space but said the wine bar is relatively inexpensive, pointing to a $15 lunch special and happy hour deals, which run Sunday to Thursday. 

The front room at Tootles & French. Photo provided by Tootles & French

 

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