In Queens many bars have come and gone. One was Tutie’s of Ozone Park, an institution and treasure in South Queens for many decades. In the 1940s Tutie’s began to gather up and display memorabilia, long before it was fashionable to decorate a bar or restaurant with such items.
As the years rolled by just about everything you could imagine ended up somewhere in the bar at 88-19 Liberty Ave. There was even a toilet seat hanging from the ceiling. If you could name something that wasn’t there, you’d get a free drink.
The famous slogan of the bar’s owner, Tutie Sommese, was “If you’re sick of living and don’t know how to die come on down and give Tutie’s a try.” The Sommese family was one of the oldest in Ozone Park. John Sommese was an embalmer who lived on 94th Street with his wife, Concetta. Other Sommese family members were grocery workers and countermen.
After World War II, Tutie’s was very popular with returning servicemen. A generation later their sons returning from Vietnam loved the place just as much when they returned home. The wild atmosphere fed by the tchotchkes really took you away from the world and your problems.
At one point a customer literally sawed a chunk of the bar off and took it home because he loved the place so much and wanted a piece of it. Since its closing many ethnic food businesses have been tried out on this corner but all have failed to make the same mark or impression.
You can still see the phrase “Meet Me at Tutie’s” painted on the side of the old bar’s building from the Liberty Avenue subway line. A photo of it also appears on the “Forgotten New York” website.