A Lot Has Changed in 102 Years
Fillmore’s original 2 story structure fronting 65th Avenue was built in 1912 as a tavern. The area we now know as Fresh Meadows from 73rd Ave. to the LIE and 164th St. to Utopia Pkwy. was called “Kerosene Heights” by the locals because it was the last neighborhood in Flushing to be electrified.
The bar was to the left as you walked in and the kitchen is still in the same place. In 1913 a sitting room was added to the rear of the building. This room was set up as a bus depot and was used by women and children waiting for the bus that traveled along Nassau Blvd., now the LIE from Long Island City to Lake Success.
The tavern owner lived upstairs and worked the store himself. His wife was the local midwife and a few of our current neighbors were born upstairs in the front room. During Prohibition the tavern operated under the guise of a grocery store. When the location openly operated as a tavern again it changed the bus depot into a party room and added a beer garden that stretched to 71st Ave. Many a ‘Polish Wedding’ was hosted all weekend long through the 1940’s.
In the 50’s it was the only place to go to watch I Love Lucy and baseball on TV. In 1968 the owner, Vinny had the audacity to let women sit at the bar. If that wasn’t crazy enough in 1972 he hired an underaged bartender named Rick. By 1977 Rick had developed a passion for late nights, Jack Daniels and good times. He bought the business and called it Millard Fillmore’s after the mediocre 13th President.
In 1984 Rick decided to change the entrance, the bar area to the current dining room and the back party room to the bar. Blackened Steak was added to the menu in 1986 and Maria added to the waitstaff in 1991. Blackened Steak is now the #1 seller and Maria the #1 partner.
What will the next 102 years bring?