Astoria, Bars, Beer and Wine, Featured, Food and Drink, Small Business Owners Spotlight
Jul 27, 2017

Small Business Owner Spotlight: Diamond Dogs!

We’ve made it pretty clear that we LOVE Diamond Dogs. It’s the kind of bar where you immediately feel at home: the vibe is comfortable, the beer and cocktail selection (…)

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Photo Courtesy of Diamond Dogs’ Facebook page

We’ve made it pretty clear that we LOVE Diamond Dogs. It’s the kind of bar where you immediately feel at home: the vibe is comfortable, the beer and cocktail selection is excellent, and the music is always on point. Not to mention, they are BYOF, and one of our favorite moves is to order a pizza (or a few) from Milkflower and eat them in Diamond Dogs’ backyard. When you’re looking for a bar with a “feel good” factor, you will never go wrong with this place.

So it goes without saying: we’re thrilled that brothers Nicky and John Elezovic, the bar’s owners, took the time to answer our questions for our newest Small Business Owner Spotlight. Take it away, guys!

 

John (left) and Nicky (right). Chugging beer while on the phone = TALENT.

Name of Business:

Diamond Dogs

 

Owned by:

Nick & John Elezovic

 

Year Created:

Opened May 2015

 

Address:

34-04 31st Avenue 11106

 

What are you known for?:

Modest but solid selection of rotating craft beers. Unfussy craft cocktails. Backyard and no TVs. Rad music and NEVER any Top 40 or hits. BYOF. Bars for years have done the BYOF thing, so we are not the first, but we wanted to play that up because of all the tasty neighboring restaurants we are friends with that surround us that we wanted to help promote. One of our favorite bars ever is Von on Bleeker St. just off of Bowery, and there used to be this adorable little Italian restaurant next door named Bianca. You could go to Bianca to order and the waitstaff would bring the food over to wherever you were in Von.

Do you also live in Queens? If so, where? How did you end up here?

John and I are both born and raised in the neighborhood. Just further down in a residential/industrial no-mans land by the East River. Steps from Rainey Park and the Socrates and Noguchi Sculpture parks. We are still there. I graduated high school from St. John’s on Crescent & Ditmars. My brother went to LIC high school because he’s a heathen. 8 years of Catholic school growing up was enough for him.

 

What made you decide to start a business in Astoria?

John came up with the idea of having our own place. We already had a solid customer base of friends and regulars at that time as I was moonlighting at Sparrow Tavern and he eventually started working at the now closed Hell Gate Social. I was feeling more adventurous and wanted to look for opportunities in other areas still under the radar. John made the hard push for Astoria since we’re native, and he was right when he came across the space we are in now.
 

What’s been your favorite moment since launching?

A good friend from Brooklyn unexpectedly came to our 2 year anniversary party and posted on FB a pic of us in the yard celebrating. One of her friends who lives in Manhattan commented that she she had met her fiancé at the picnic table right behind where we were sitting more than a year earlier. So thrilled to know that a chance encounter in our yard could bring these two people together for hopefully the rest of their lives. I look forward to pouring some bubbly for them in honor next time they visit.

What’s your favorite cocktail you’ve created?

John created one that I love called Satin Kimono made with local Queens Courage gin. It’s refreshing and savory, complex yet balanced. Like tequila, gin can have a bad rap, so sometimes people are apprehensive ordering anything with gin. Because the QC gin is an Old Tom gin distilled with honeycombs, it’s a bit sweeter than gin’s that most people have come across. So this is a cocktail that I use to convince people that they actually CAN enjoy gin, and it has worked perfectly.

What’s your favorite beer you serve?

I always enjoy anything from Other Half out of Brooklyn and Big Alice over in LIC. Any sour beers as well as Citizen cider is always an easy go-to for me.

 

What’s your most popular drink?

It’s tough to pick just one. Our rye whiskey based Holy Mountain and silver tequila based Times Of Grace are most likely the top two. We oak barrel age and bottle Negroni’s and Boulevardier’s that we also offer during our happy hour. Those have become so popular I’ve had to get more barrels to give them appropriate time to age before bottling and offering.

What’s your favorite place to grab food when you’re working?

John ALWAYS orders from Milkflower for the staff to snack on. Sometimes when we are busy, they are sweet enough to bring it over to us. I really like Djerdan (Bosnian) Burek shop right next door when I’m in the mood for a tasty meat fix. Our family is from the Balkans (Albanian from Montenegro) so I’m familiar with the cuisine. I wish more of our customers would take a chance on getting to know their menu and overlook the long, ethnic and most times unpronounceable names of some of those delicious dishes.

What’s a hidden Astoria secret you feel like people don’t know about that you absolutely love?

District Saigon is FAR from a hidden secret, but the cocktails there are excellent and don’t get any attention. They can contend with anything being cranked out by Astoria’s finest bars. They used to have this boozy avocado milkshake that was like a savory dessert before dinner.

What’s your favorite place to grab a drink?

I don’t keep many late nights anymore really. If I’m in the mood to unwind with a Guinness it’s always Daly’s, sometimes to catch Rangers hockey on my way home during the season. I love The LetLove Inn for the music variety and interesting humans that come through on random nights. Always chill yet entertaining there. The Mumbai Daiquiri at The Last Word is a favorite cocktail I like to treat myself to after a long week.

If you have friends or family visiting Astoria, where do you take them?

Astoria Park strip, between the bridges on a nice night. Then some place to eat after, preferably somewhere with no printed menus, like Ali’s Kebab Cafe or Elias Fish house. The swordfish kebab’s at Elias’ are amazing and rival those of the more popular Taverna Kyclades.

How have you seen Astoria change since you’ve been here?

I’m kind of amazed at how “Cool” and happening Astoria has become, how so many people are making the trip here to hang out. I can vividly remember a time, that if you were young and cool and from Astoria, you went into Manhattan to hang out, usually in the East Village and Alphabet City. 7B was a spot where I would regularly meet cool Astorians. That was where I met Evan Roumeliotis (of Sparrow, Mar’s, The LetLove Inn), becoming good friends and later on working for him.That was some 25+ years ago.

What’s you’re favorite part of owning a business in Queens?

Connecting people brings me the greatest joy. Working almost 20 years in the hotel biz, most people were transients. I never had that opportunity until I started working at Sparrow Tavern in 2009. It’s extremely rewarding being able to introduce people with common interests who sometimes end up making films together, forming theater companies, forming bands, dating, or just becoming friends for life. I never experienced that until I started working at my local.

 

Thank you so much to John and Nicky for taking the time to answer our questions. We’ll see you at the bar VERY soon!

 

Diamond Dogs (34-04 31st Ave) (929) 522-0061
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About Lindsay Goyette

Lindsay has been eating and drinking her way through Queens since 2011. A casting director by day and Astoria explorer by night, you can usually find her checking out live music, theatre, or the newest neighborhood spot to enjoy a craft beer.

One Comment

Nicole

When you guys posted about Diamond Dogs months before it opened, I was counting down the days. I got drinks there before they even had a credit card machine because that’s how badly I needed them to be open! Now, they are my favorite establishment in Astoria. Good drinks, excellent space, the best music and above all else a WONDERFUL staff. I hope they continue to thrive! Cheers.

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