June 15, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A trendy, upmarket bar/restaurant in Dutch Kills has shuttered after a near 7-year-run.
Dutch Kills Centraal, located at 38-40 29th St., has closed for good, its owners announced Sunday.
Dominic and Jean Stiller, a husband and wife duo, said that the business could not withstand the COVID-19 economic restrictions and operate under the current climate.
“With a sad heart and much soul searching, we are unfortunately not able to re-open Dutch Kills Centraal and have closed permanently,” a message posted on Facebook reads.
The couple said that the economic outlook for the business was bleak, particularly because neighboring hotels remain closed – a key customer base for the business.
“While the bar/restaurant has been a success, it does not have a long lease and shuttered hotels have discouraged all hopes of reopening,” a statement provided to the Queens Post reads.
Dominic Stiller, who is also a Community Board 1 member, said in an interview today that up to 70 percent of its customers were made up of tourists and business travelers.
Surrounding hotels, he said, would not reach their full capacity for another year. Stiller said that there were too many unknowns facing the business and they reluctantly made the decision to close.
He said the decision was particularly difficult given the couple’s involvement within the community. His wife Jean is very active and is known for promoting traffic safety in the area.
Stiller, a former president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association, said the couple decided to open the bar/restaurant in September 2013 as a meeting point for locals and visitors.
The bar/restaurant was a modern, upscale establishment that got its name from Amsterdam’s Grand Centraal station – a major international railway hub in Amsterdam. Centraal is the Dutch spelling of the word “central” and the Stillers envisioned the bar/restaurant as being a meeting point for the community of Dutch Kills.
The Dutch Kills neighborhood, which was rezoned in 2008 to allow for residential development, had been slow to offer locals a lot of eating and drinking options.
The Stillers opened Dutch Kills Centraal – situated at the corner of 29th Street and 39th Avenue – to meet that need by restoring an old building, which was a neighborhood pub until the 1980s.
The business met those goals for several years. Its laid back atmosphere coupled with a policy of rarely switching on televisions encouraged plenty of conversation.
The bar/restaurant later added an unenclosed sidewalk café with seven tables and 28 seats.
Dutch Kills Centraal served up locally brewed craft beer along with an organically focused food menu. Specialty dishes included the grass-fed organic beef burger and the pork shank dish which was popular among visitors.
The business shuttered once the statewide stay-at-home orders went into effect on March 22. They decided to remain closed throughout the shutdown and opted against applying for federal assistance as they believed the rules were unclear.
The closure means that 14 employees are now out of a job but Stiller says he is actively helping them to find work.
Stiller will now focus his energies on his other company, DSENY Engineering Services, which employees 20 people. The firm is also located in Dutch Kills.
Dutch Kills Centraal is hosting a closing party on Saturday, June 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for all of its former customers.
The remaining inventory will be drunk and a sidewalk sale of restaurant equipment and furniture will also be held.