Occult-Themed Cafe Brings a Taste of Mystery to Astoria
ASTORIA — A new cafe in Queens is looking to give its customers an otherworldly experience.
The House of Mysteries quietly opened its doors at 31-01 Vernon Blvd. last month, serving coffees, cappuccinos and pastries amidst Voodoo skulls, masks of Japanese folkloric demons and a Ouija Board-covered table.
Carved pumpkins line the dimly lit bar, and the smell of burning incense fills the room.
"Occult, magic, a touch of New Orleans," co-owner Ryan Mundaca described as his vision for the space, a renovated warehouse on the first floor of a large apartment building near the Astoria waterfront.
He had long harbored plans to open a mystical-themed cafe, inspired by a series of supernatural comic books he read growing up called "The House of Mystery."
In one anthology, the house itself served as a mysterious gathering place and bar, where the inhabitants pay for their drinks by telling a good story.
"I remember the idea of how great it is, the idea of a house like that, where people come and they hang out and they enjoy themselves and they have a great time," Mundaca said.
"And I said you know what, we should make that into a reality."
The Astoria resident co-owns the cafe with business partner Peter Loudas. Their initial menu consists of pastries, coffees, and specialty blend teas with names like "The Happy Zombie" and "Nina's Love Spell," a tribute to Nina Simone.
The menu will be expanding soon to include sandwiches, beer and wine, Mundaca said.
The House of Mysteries also hosts special events, including an open mic night once a month and free double-feature movie screenings every Friday night (this month, it's been all horror and Halloween-themed flicks).
Mundaca said his goal is to create a unique but welcoming atmosphere for customers.
"It's open to absolutely everyone; it pushes no one away," he said.
"It is a type of sanctuary for those that enjoy the world of the occult and at the same time just want to sit down and have a cup of coffee."
The House of Mysteries is located at 31-01 Vernon Blvd. in Astoria. Current hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, 9 to 12 a.m. Fridays, 9 to 10 p.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays and closed on Wednesdays.