June 9, 2016 By Michael Florio
Permitting issues have delayed a Food Network personality and New York City restaurateur’s plan to open a sprawling grill and speakeasy concept on Ditmars Boulevard.
Willie “Jack” Degel planned to open his new restaurant, Uncle Jack’s Meat House, at 36-16 Ditmars Blvd. in March, he said.
However, he said he has had issues receiving permits from the city, due to the fact that the shop was previously two distinct buildings, before former tenant Square Hardware knocked down a wall and turned it into one large location.
He said the City now wants him to treat the space like two locations.
“The City wants two separate sprinkler systems, two gas mains, two water mains, and so on,” Degel said.
“It is a complicated process,” he added. “I have never been delayed like this.”
Property owner Salvatore Barretta confirmed that the hold up is due to the split space.
The Department of Buildings did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Degel is meeting with City officials next week and hopes to be able to move forward after that.
He is now hoping to open this fall, targeting September/October.
“We wish we were open already,” he said. “We are ready to feed, entertain and do whatever we can do for our customers.”
Degel is the founder of the Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse chain, which has locations in Bayside and Manhattan, Unlce Jack’s Steak Sandwich Shoppe in Madison Square Garden and a burger offshoot called Jack’s Shack. He is also opening another Uncle Jack’s Meat House in Georgia in July.
The Meat House will differ from the Steakhouse chain, as there is no dress code, and the average check will cost about half as much, according to Degel.
The restaurant will offer a variety of appetizers and salads, as well as burgers, sandwiches, steaks and a full bar.
“This is a much more toned-down version of the steakhouse,” he said.
Appetizers, such as buttery mashed potatoes, roasted local mushrooms, truffle cream corn and Long Island duck meatballs, will run between $8 and $16. Salads will range between $8 and $14. The vegetables, such as the mushrooms and ingredients in the salad, will change depending on what is in season, Degel said.
Entrees will include a long bone pork chop, which is slow roasted, as well as a dish called the Jack Pot, which will have lobster and shrimp cooked in a pot. They will range between $24 and $32. Desserts will range between $7 and $10.
“Everything here is so different,” Degel said.
The bar will feature a variety of craft cocktails, scotches, bourbons and locally brewed beers. It will also have up to 40 wines, all locally sourced.
Some items will be the same as the steakhouse, such as the steak sandwich and the burger. The steaks, such as the prime New York strip and the dry-aged 35-day Fred Flintstone chop. Steaks will start at $45.
The restaurant will have an outdoor café with 30 seats outside. Inside, the bar can seat 32 people, with room for an additional 40 people to stand. The dining room seats up to 90, while a speakeasy-style bar in the basement can seat up to 50 people, according to Degel.
“The restaurant is set up for people to come and share and have a sick experience,” he said. “It is very affordable.”
There will be different music in each section, to help create a different environment in every level of the restaurant, Degel said.
Degel is excited to open in Astoria.
The community-feel, as well as the growth and diversity that the neighborhood offers attracted him to Astoria.
“I would go to Astoria as a little kid and I love the neighborhood,” he said.
He believes the restaurant will thrive with the changing Astoria demographic.
“People are leaving the city [Manhattan],” he said. “All the younger, cooler people are moving to Astoria.”
He is hopeful to establish regulars in the neighborhood, as he has with his previous locations.
“It’s going to be a sick place,” he said. “It’s going to be hot and going to be packed.”
Degel also stars on Food Network’s Restaurant Stakeout, where he assesses restaurants by watching employees through hidden cameras – a practice he keeps at his own establishments, according to the show’s website.
If the check will average 50% of what the steakhouse costs that means people should expect to pay at least $75-100 for a party of 2.
Ridiculous pricing for Astoria.
Also, your brokers should have known that the wall was knocked down and the space was combined and that you’d run into these issues.
NY Space Finders are big scammers though. They place unqualified tenants in retail locations and when that business fails they then sell the lease to someone else. So many businesses in our area have gone under that they initially leased too.
they just take the money and run leaving landlord and tenant in a bind.
The press will cover his opening I am sure! I love the Food Network. Great for the neighborhood. I hope a couple of shows will be taped here. Good thing trains and buses are close by. Parking is already a nightmare in that area especially on warm days and weekends.
If that happens our whole neighborhood is completely fucked
When I was kid, I would eat my Uncle Jack’s meat.
I thought it was a new gay bar and got excited until i read the article. lol
Can he introduce an older resident discount for all us uncool folks in the neighborhood?
They will be lining around the block for this place.
This place sounds great!!! Good luck and thanks and appreciation from a life long Astoria resident. Third generation born and raised. Don’t worry the other old cranks posting to this stream won’t be around much longer.
Old Astoria is exactly that old one thing my childhood taught me growing up on 30 Ave is do not hate the player but hate the game I would embrace good quality food seems to me now all I see is these cheap vendors selling lord knows what kind of meat not to mention there not even from Queens or any other borough for that matter if successful owners give back to the community that raised them then it’s all for the better
Old Astoria did not teach you about how to end a sentence.
Paul what degree do you have A GED I bet if that
You also cannot structure a sentence
Or grammar in general.
Ugh! I am tired of all these new restaurants and their sidewalk tables, etc….I am sure this will drive residents off the block. I miss my Astoria! 🙁
Move to Astoria Heights while you can before the home prices sky rocket here because of how crowded and noisy the rest of Astoria has turned into (only good for rental profits).
Your Astoria? Too Late. You should of thought about this before you let most of the mom and pops stores (like the Hardware store) run out of business. You can not expect places of business to stay the same when no one in the area is supporting their them and then some end up complaining when something that will cater to the new demographic opens up. I am sure the homeowner is real happy about his new rental lease and that someone else is taking care of all his illegal past renovations.
The hardware store was ancient, as was the owner. Very nice employes though. Once their lease renewal came up there is no way they could pay the increase.
Uncle Jacks in Manhattan is great (food & service). Never tried the one in Bayside. Hopefully the food will be just as good since the prices are similar to Manhattan prices. But then again – Christos is just as expensive and it sucks
Damn brah that sounds hot and sick. I hope they have a gluten free menu.
Good, I hope this portends their slow death. This guy seems like a right piece of shit and this concept is pedestrian at best.
“People are leaving the city [Manhattan],” “All the younger, cooler people are moving to Astoria.” He(we) couldn’t care less what you think.
So you’re one of the “younger, cooler” people, huh? Bwahahaha. Have a *sick* time at this “hot” spot with your $45 steak, bro.
someone posting as “Old” and commenting about a “slow death” should think twice about what he/she writes.
I’m not *that* old, I’ve just lived here for 20 years. And BTW I LOVE how the neighborhood has changed. I frequent places like Sweet Afton, Mars, The Bonnie, Bowery Bay etc. but this place seems uninspired and this guy seems like a total prick.
I’m not actually that old, I’ve just lived here for almost 20 years. By the way, I LOVE how the neighborhood is/has changed. I frequent places like The Bonnie, Bowery Bay, Sparrow, Mars, The Ditty etc. . .but this place seems totally uninspired and Degel seems like a total prick.