Click here for Greater Long Island newsletters. Click here to download our iPhone app.
A group of thirty-somethings are drawing on yesteryear’s pop culture and its conjoined childhood innocence to pull crowds into their new bar in Bethpage.
Nostalgia unveiled its ’90s-centric bar Thursday night. With Rugrats and CatDog episodes playing on TV’s and CDs, and Pokémon cards lining the bathroom walls and floors, the new watering hole is sure to galvanize millennials.
Owners Shawn O’Connor and Tom Angenbroich’s dream of a ’90s themed space became reality once they teamed up with Costas Themistocleous and Pete Dragone, the former owner of Nostalgia’s predecessor at 380 N. Wantagh Ave., One Eye Jacks. Their execution hinges on both the current cultural appetite for past trends, such as vinyl records or television reboots, as well as people’s surrender to their inner child.
“In my friend group, the age bracket we are in right now, everyone’s worried about getting older, thinking ‘We’re to old to do this anymore,'” Angenbroich said. “For me, that’s not a good mentality to live by.”
“I want people to be able to forget everything that bothers them, everything that troubles them,” O’Connor added. “I want them to be able to walk in and be back in time to a place where they’re just happy.”
“I don’t know if it was because I was just a kid and I was always happy, but I just want people to come in and be happy and have that sense of childhood joy that we forget when we grow up,” he continued. “It just goes away.”
Step foot into the ’90s
Beyond the retro artwork and references that adorn each wall, Nostalgia’s owners also cartoonified the old One Eye Jack menu.
Rugrats fans can order up Tommy’s Fried Pickles or the pizza roll Reptar Bites. For heroes in a half shell, the Pizza Planet section of the menu offers Leonardo veggie lover and Donatello meat lovers pizzas. The joint is also the home of the Good Burger, as well as the Mondo Burger and Chubbies Famous.
For drinks, patrons can choose reference beverages, such as the Semi-Charmed Kinda Ice with vodka, lemonade, sweet and sour mix and club soda, and the “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” with dark rum, ginger beer and lime juice. They can also order up Mighty Morphin’ Jell-O Shot flights when it’s morphin’ time or crush a can of Duff Beer.
On Wednesday, guests can put their old school fandom knowledge to the test during trivia night. On Friday, bands and DJs crank ’90s bangers.
The bar also boasts interactive elements for the young at heart, from a rotary telephone that plays Bart Simpson prank calls to a classic red Speak & Spell. There’s even an iPad setup that projects users into their favorite ’90s scenes.
“I have 54 different scenes that will put you into ’90s cartoons, movies and all that will project on the TV,” O’Connor said. “You will appear on the TV in Rugrats, in Land of the Lost and Blockbuster. You can move around, you can dance.”
“We wanted an interactive feel,” he continued. “We don’t want you to just go to another bar. We want you to experience it.”