The last of the Corner
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 became the #1 seller and Maria the #1 partner. The 90’s flew by for Fillmore’s. The young staff was brought on who is still around today. Natalie behind the bar and Janet still in the dining room. In 2006 another Flushing local by the name of Adam came on as a 22-year-old bartender. By 2017, after 40 years of feeding Fresh Meadows, Rick was ready to hand over the keys to his neighborhood staple and Adam was up to the task. With a fresh coat of paint and some new additions to the menu, Adam along with the new GM Mike, are looking to the next 40 years of fantastic food and fun at Fillmore’s Tavern. Come in, ask for Adam or Mike and hear some more about what’s going on at this classic Queens Tavern. One of the last of its kind!
What will the next 107 years bring?