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City rock group to play at opening of College Point Irish bar

A College Point Irish bar that had formerly been the site of the neighborhood’s last remaining German restaurant will host a grand opening celebration this weekend that features the music of a longtime city-based rock ‘n’ roll group whose leader’s ancestry is German and Irish.

Bill Popp and the Tapes, who once regularly played Manhattan’s now-defunct CBGB, will take the stage at College Point’s Merseyside Pub, at 13-46 127th St., at 10 p.m. Saturday as the Irish pub kicks off its grand opening celebration.

The bar, which officially opened in June, had been the site of The Five Corners, a popular German-American restaurant. Popp, whose band plays British Invasion-style music, said the locale’s former tenant had been the last of its kind in the once German-centric neighborhood.

“This whole neighborhood once was German,” said Popp, who is three-quarters German and one-quarter Irish. “So, this is a bittersweet thing. It’s great to have a place to feature British Invasion music, but sad that it was the last German bar.”

Popp’s group also includes members Gerry Barnas, Roger Foster and Mary Noecker.

In 1854, German-American Brooklyn rubber manufacturer Conrad Poppenhusen expanded his operations in College Point, transforming the farming community into a working-class factory town.

Roberta Glick, Merseyside’s owner, said it took a while for the community to accept that the bar had switched from German- to Irish-themed. But she said her pub has retained some of The Five Corners’ employees and clientele. The grand opening will spotlight a variety of Irish foods and will be the first of many live musical performances to come.

“When I bought this place, it looked like an Irish pub with its white stone walls and beams,” she said. “The atmosphere will be down-to-earth and very friendly. Especially in these economic times when people can’t afford to go out, it’s the sort of place where an entire family will feel comfortable. We have a separate entrance for the dining room in case people don’t want to walk through the bar. Everyone from children to their grandmother will feel welcome.”

The bar’s dishes include Shepherd’s pie, hamburgers and a ploughman’s lunch.

Bill Popp and the Tapes, whose members hail from College Point, Bellerose, Manhattan and Long Island, will play songs from their 28-year career during the Merseyside’s grand opening. Popp, a College Point native, said he believes the bar will be a new venue where borough bands can perform.

But he hopes something will be done in the community to notify residents about its former German heritage.

“It’s good to have change, but there should be a marker that College Point was once a German town,” Popp said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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