Hidden New York: Bootlegger Jack’s

Posted at 8:25 AM, Sep 07, 2018
and last updated 2020-01-10 03:18:04-05

ASTORIA, Queens — Willie Degel knows meat. After all, he owns numerous Uncle Jack's steakhouses across the city, including a new location along Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria.

"Everything to me is about quality, so if you love burgers, you have a burger. If you love apps, we have sick munchies to die for," Degel said.

"Then we have steaks and you have a choice of steaks, prime steak, we age, dry age, American Cross Breed."

The restaurant is huge, with lots of tables and space.

Down in the communal bathroom, there is a selfie mirror that literally takes a picture of you and prints it out next to a sink.

But in that bathroom, there is a door that many think is a broom closet.

However, if you knock on the door in the evening hours, a person will open a tiny window and ask you for the password.

"You cannot get in without the passcode," said Degel.

Once you are in, you are transported to a whole other era, with a different look and feel from the restaurant above.

This hidden space is called Bootlegger Jack's.

"This will take you in a whole other world from the early 1900s," says Degel.

"It has the old gangster vibe, with different lounge couches and when you are here, you are fabulous."

The menu is different from the restaurant above — each small plate specially handcrafted.

The drinks — each using fresh ingredients.

Degel said until PIX11 showed up, he strictly relied on word of mouth to get the message out for this hidden space.

"When you walk in that door, we are going to do everything we can to win you over and that is just what we do.”