Joe and Kate Bly live in East Elmhurst, Queens, in a house that used to belong to Joe’s grandparents. Shortly after they moved into the house in 2003, Joe started cleaning out the garage, and found a lot of his grandfather’s cool old stuff, which grandfathers generally have a lot of. They decided to embrace the kitsch and share it with their friends by turning the garage into a tiki lounge. DNAinfo visited and saw the old headboard that functions as a bar, the disco ball hanging from the ceiling, and the extensive record collection that gets spun when friends come over to hang out. The bar even has a name: Rio Negro.
The bar opened in 2006, and has stayed open even as the Blys started a family, since they just bring the baby monitor into the garage and hang out. They skirted some of the loss-of-social-life that comes with parenthood by bringing the party to their own house.
Drinking in the garage is a favorite pastime in suburban and rural communities. I’m from upstate New York, and a lot of people I grew up with have continued to spend Friday nights partying in someone’s garage well into their 30s. Garage drinking doesn’t happen as much in New York City, and it’s charming to see that tradition carried and adapted to New York City life, where the garage is designed and stylish and not a flourescent-lit room with a bare cement floor where you have to share space with a lawnmower.
I don’t know if Rio Negro is open to the public, so don’t just show up at the Blys’ house like “where the party at?”, but I’m sure if you send them a friendly email they’ll invite you over.
(Photo: DNAinfo/Katie Honan)