It’s a trend that’s quickly catching on throughout the city—small, neighborhood bars dressing up their image, adding a food menu, hosting live entertainment and theme nights such as darts and karaoke. And now residents around the stretch of Crossbay Boulevard and Pitkin Avenue in Ozone Park will have the opportunity to see what all the buzz is about.
CJ’s Bar is a collaborative effort between best friends and partners Jimmy Prine and Charlie Casillo. Both are lifelong area residents who have taken their friendship into the business arena.
The partners started their enterprise with the purchase and total renovation of the building. The space that has housed a local watering hole for so long– residents say they don’t remember anything else but a bar there– has been completely transformed.
Under the careful direction of Jimmy Prine, a subtle combination of dark, rich earth tones has resulted in a more than inviting space to kick back and have a good time. Tall tables accommodating parties of four or five line the wall, enough to accommodate about twenty guests in all. A more than comfortable space exists between the seated area and the bar with a wide open area for house entertainers.
But the appeal about CJ’s is not restricted to the indoor space. A hidden gem of an outdoor space the owners have created in their rear yard will definitely go a long way toward giving locals the feel they have arrived in Manhattan –without the hassle or the expense.
The outside walls have been treated and crafted to mimic a European café setting. Large round tables fill the space where diners can enjoy cocktails and what appears to be a menu full of promise.
The menu is one of the components owners say took front and center in their list of priorities for CJ’s. “We wanted to give people someplace to go where they could really enjoy themselves. And that means great, simple food,” says Prine. To that end they consulted a master chef to design the menu and found purveyors to supply the quality of food they intend to serve.
The signature dish on the menu is undoubtedly something sandwich fans take seriously. CJ’s signature sandwich is a pile of slowly roasted prime Angus beef, thinly sliced and served with a homemade au jus on a freshly baked baguette.
The rest of the menu is built around wraps, panini and classic burgers and will be available in the very near future. For now CJ’s is open and serving drinks, hosting live entertainment, darts, live band Karaoke and sports viewing. And yes, if you’re looking forward to trying the menu, you can certainly get a feel for the spot by sitting outside in the garden café– relaxing before the kitchen officially opens in a few weeks.
“So many people were telling us that they have nowhere to go locally where they can grab a beer and a good burger. Seems simple enough,” jokes Pryne. “And we’re going to give our customers exactly that and a whole lot more.”
CJ’s Bar and Lounge
137-09 Crossbay Boulevard
Open 7 days