NEW YORK - Often when newcomers step into Zum Stammtisch, they are taken by surprise.
"They go, 'Oh, wow. I feel like I'm in Germany. It's like a time machine," co-owner Hans Lehner said.
With antique beer steins lining stucco walls, the rustic interior is the brainchild of his father John, a German immigrant who opened the restaurant on Myrtle Avenue in 1972. When he died decades later, his sons Hans and Werner committed to preserving the business he built.
"We've kept the decor basically identical," Werner said. "It's really traditional, old-school Bavarian."
Nearly half a century since its inception, Zum Stammtisch has kept its reputation for hearty food in generous portions.
The most popular appetizer is goulash, a beef stew.
"I would say at least half the people that would come in would order the goulash soup," Werner said.
The Bavarian pretzel comes with horseradish cream sauce and two types of mustard for dipping. For the sauerbraten, beef is marinated in wine and vinegar for a week.
The drink menu has a clear priority.
"We really focus heavy on the German beers," Hans said. "We have pilsners. We have lagers. We have Kölsch beers. We have weiss beers."
The brothers take pride in serving their community.
"We have regulars that have been coming here since we opened," Hans said.
Equally devoted are their longtime staff.
Hans's wife Jackie has served Zum Stammtisch customers for nearly 26 years.
"It's like home," she said.
Originally from the town of Langenselbold near Frankfurt, she often welcomes family members visiting from her native country.
"They tell us that they have a better jägerschnitzel here than they do in Germany," she said.
Over the years, the brothers added a pork store offering imported candies, local sausages, and over 60 varieties of German beer.
Even with expansion comes the commitment to honoring their father's vision.
"It's nice to be able to carry on that tradition and give the same thing that he gave to the neighborhood," Hans said.
69-46 Myrtle Ave
Queens, NY 11385
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