Homegrown & Heartfelt: Hutch brings local flavor to the Astoria dining scene
By Alexander Lee
The newly opened Hutch sure features its share of far-flung flavors on the menu, derived from locally bought ingredients, that create the very heart and soul of the bar.
“The menu is almost completely locally bought products,” owner Tommy Kajic said. “That is key. I purchase most of the meat from Sorriso’s and International Meat Market here on 30th Avenue. We buy local produce from United Brothers down on 30th and 32nd. I thought, what’s the point of doing something in your neighborhood if you can’t try to help the rest of the neighborhood?”
Kajic has lived in Astoria for 15 years and has been visiting since he was a child. Before opening Hutch, he worked for his uncle Ruari at Daly’s Pub on Broadway Avenue and 31st Street.
“Some people don’t want to be too close to work,” Kajic said. “But for me, I don’t mind it so much.”
The storefront that houses Hutch was formerly a Greek social club. Before that, it was a meat market. But the team at Hutch has made the space their own, decking it out with hip decor, welcoming signage, and a classically styled bar. Though Kajic doesn’t plan to install the bar’s taps until the coronavirus pandemic passes, they are already locked and loaded with a large espresso machine.
“We spent a lot of time building this ourselves,” Kajic said.
With favorites such as manchego cheese fries alongside more eclectic offerings like cevapi, a minced meat sausage dish that nods to Kajic’s Croatian heritage. Kajic made it clear that he plans for Hutch to be more of a bar than a sit-down restaurant, but that doesn’t mean the food will be secondary to the drinks.
“Why go somewhere else when you’re hungry?” Kajic said. “Stay here, you’ll be taken care of.”
“You have a little bit of everything here—food-wise, drink-wise, so many different cultures mixed into one neighborhood,” Kajic said. “It’s tough to stand out. But if you can add to that list with something just a little unique, maybe you have a chance.”