Dozens of baseball hats hang from the ceiling and light fixtures of the Waterfront Crabhouse: “Local 12—Asbestos Workers,” “Belmont Park,” “Excelsior Correctional Services,” and “Great Wall” (with accompanying Chinese characters) are among the people, places, and organizations represented. The rest of the bar is decked out in a hodgepodge of souvenirs that seem more carefully collected than randomly thrown together. Boxing memorabilia dominates the space: Sugar Ray Leonard, “Terrible” Terry Norris, Rocky Graziano, Muhammad Ali, and Joe Frazier vie for recognition on fight posters, fading photos, and autographed gloves. In the opposite corner, caricatures of old men—barflies we presume—are plastered on the walls. Every visit to this Long Island City watering hole uncovers something you may have missed before, like the antique sign that reads, “NO SPITTING” in big bold letters or the pictures of Paul Newman and other celebs outside the joint back in the day. And much like a grandmother’s attic, the Crabhouse is a testament to time: The bar and restaurant is housed in the former home of Tony Miller’s Hotel, a bustling turn-of-the-century hang patronized by the likes of Theodore Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland. These days, construction crews are at work erecting luxury buildings on nearby streets that will turn the neighborhood into the next hot place to live. But inside the bar, it still feels like the old days as you sit on one of the red felt stools, sip on the house white ($5.95) or a Brooklyn Lager ($4.40), and listen to Barbra Streisand on the stereo singing about those “Misty water-colored memories/Of the way we were.” Change is good, they say, but it’s nice to know that some things just stay the same.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 5, 2006