This Queens beer hall preserves a German culture and language that is all but lost.
Tucked away on a quiet street in Ridgewood, Queens for nearly a century, Gottscheer Hall is at once a tavern, community center, and dance hall. The hall was established by immigrants from the German-speaking ethnolinguistic enclave of Gottschee in Austria-Hungary (present-day Slovenia) and remains a beloved spot for authentic German food and drink.
Dating back to 1343, the 331-square-mile Gottschee region weathered everything from the plague, to Turkish invasions, to occupation by Napoleon’s army, to peasant revolts. Many Gottschee immigrants settled in New York in the late 1800s amidst a population explosion, establishing Gottschee Hall in 1924. Following the ravages of World War II, Gottschee was reclaimed by Yugoslavia, leaving the last of the Gottscheers stateless and homeless. A second wave of displaced Gottscheers followed the suit of the previous generation, settling in New York and bringing their business to Gottscheer Hall.
Today, the hall remains a vibrant community space, hosting events from dances in its ballroom to the Ridgewood Market artisan night bazaar. Portraits of “Miss Gottschee” pageant winners throughout the years are on exhibit in the foyer, while the taproom walls proudly display Gottschee Rod & Gun Club sharpshooting awards. The menu features hearty German fare such as krainerwurst and spaetzle alongside a selection of imported German beers.
Although Gottschee has long ceased to exist geographically, its culture and spirit live on in Queens. In fact, Gottscheerish German is one of the oldest languages alive, and vestiges of it can still be heard at Gottscheer Hall over hearty grub and libations.
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