In the late 90s, Rohan Aggarwal's father opened the Indian restaurant Baluchi's at the current site of Queens Bully. Rohan's family lived near-by in Kew Gardens, so he took many weekend jobs there as a kid: delivery boy, dishwasher, and porter.
With the lease up, and his father close to retirement, the restaurant closed down in 2013, and the space became a makeshift storage space for all the other venues he owned, including everything at Baluchi's.
When Rohan and his partner wanted to open a bar/restaurant in the Baluchi's space, he remembered when his father came to the US in 1980, the first cultural totem that he fell in love with was American barbecue. He was smitten once he tasted brisket and ribs. At one point, he bought a smoker for a barbecue place that never opened, so it sat in storage until Rohan pulled it out.
"I wanted to build the restaurant for him," Rohan says.
He got the name Queens Bully for the nickname he and his friends gave for Queens Boulevard when they came home on the subway from the city after a night of drinking and their parents prohibited them to drive under those circumstances.
This particular object leads back to my father. He used to always import things from India for decoration at the restaurants [he owned]. He had a passion for old vintage things.
In India, there are a lot of vintage cabinets, tables, chairs... anything vintage, you can find, and they re-purpose it. He would just buy containers of it, and get it shipped here, and then figure out what he was going to do with it once they arrive here. That's the kind of person he was.
This particular piece was a waiter's station at Devi, which was [my father's] restaurant I worked at at Union Square. He imported it from India. It was stationary. It was just part of the whole ambiance of the restaurant.
At some point, when we had closed that restaurant down, I didn't want to let go of it. I really thought it was a very beautiful piece. I kept it in my garage.
When the pandemic hit, we built this area outdoors and I was searching for a waiter's station. That piece didn't have wheels on it. I put wheels on it during the pandemic and said let's make this the waiter's station.
This thing was in storage for about six years.
I have no idea how old this piece is. But if you look at the wood and the nails that are in there... I don't know how old it is... it's definitely a very old piece.
It's all hand-cut mirrors on there. In India, especially these old pieces, everything is cut and carved by hand. Someone actually took the time to file all those mirrors in there.