The Plattduetsche Park Restaurant & Caterers can trace its beginning to the year 1883, when the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen of Brooklyn and vicinity was formed. This society of immigrants from the flatlands of northern Germany (which is the meaning of plattduetsche) was created out of necessity for the welfare and support of its members. In those days, if you were injured or sick and couldn't work, then you were not able to feed or take care of your family. By belonging to a society such as this one, you would receive a daily stipend in case of hardship. Membership in the society also provided a place to gather with other people from northern Germany to talk and preserve heritage and traditions handed down from older generations. The society adopted as its motto "Eendracht makt Macht" or "In Unity is Strength" and the symbol of the beehive - although each individual bee is small, together they can accomplish amazing things.
To finance the organization, yearly beer festivals were held at various restaurants and beer gardens with raffles and shooting contests. In fact, the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen raised enough money to finance the purchase of land to build a hospital. The German Hospital Corporation was spun off independently once it was built and still stands today as Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. Members of the society could receive free healthcare at the clinic as well as any necessary hospitalization or surgery.
In the early 1900s, the real estate boom in Brooklyn wiped out many of the restaurants that had large beer gardens and open outdoor areas. This made holding the yearly fund-raising festivals difficult, so members of the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen began to look east for property to buy. A German farmer in Franklin Square sold them his land, which they divided into two parcels. One was designated for an "old folks' home" and the other for a building and beer garden for the society. The Plattduetsche Home and Renken Apartments are operated independently by the Plattduetsche Home Society and are one of the finest senior living centers on Long Island.
The cornerstone of the Plattduetsche Park Restaurant was laid in 1939 and local residents have been able to enjoy German specialties here ever since. Today, the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen still exists and yearly fund raising festivals are held, much as they were in the late 1800s. The largest is the Volksfest in July, which is in its 123rd year. Over the past 40 or 50 years, the society has become more of a German-American club that includes members from other areas of Germany including Bavaria and the Frisian islands. This is reflected in the many different celebrations that take place during the year including the Gottscheer Festival held the first weekend in June, the Bavarian Heritage Festival scheduled on the second weekend of June and the Ompahfest which is always the day after the German-American parade in New York City.
The Plattduetsche has its own amateur brass band, the Foehrer Musik Freunde, that performs at the festivals and in parades as well as a shooting club, soccer team, tennis club, singing society and dance groups. The New Generation German-American Club is primarily made up of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of immigrants who wish to learn about and maintain their proud heritage. We invite you to come and experience the center of German-American culture on Long Island for yourself!
But why do you spell the name of the restaurant "Plattduetsche?"
We're glad you asked! We trace our beginnings to the year 1883 when the Plattduetsche Volksfest Vereen of Brooklyn and vicinity was formed by a group of immigrants from the northern flatlands of Germany. The original spelling of the organization was Plattdütsche Volksfest Vereen from the Low German or "platt" language. Any German vowel that has an umlaut over it is transliterated into English with an "e" following it ("hören" thus becomes "hoeren," "glück" becomes "glueck," and so on), hence the spelling of Plattduetsche.
Today, it is relatively easy to insert letters with symbols from many different languages on our computers, but that was not the case in the days of typewriters and manual type settings, so the "ue" was used in all of the signage, logos, etc. We continue to uphold the tradition of using this spelling even today, in such a modern age. But then again, that's part of the Plattduetsche's charm.