2007 FORGOTTEN BUFFALO CLASSIC TAVERN AWARD WINNER
PRISTACH'S - BUFFALO
CLOSED - 2010
Located at the Corner of Bailey Avenue and Pullman Street in Buffalo. Pristach is one of the best Prohibition era taverns still in operation in the region. The establishment has been in operation at the address by the same family since 1937. Regina Pristach has been running the joint since the late 30s. One television, a jukebox with polka music, Rolling Rock splits for $1 and one of the best bar and back bars left in use. It’s located in a part of the history surrounded by industrial history. Don’t miss this tavern as it is one of the last of its era. It’s location one block north of the intersection of Broadway and Bailey is surrounded by history. Just down Bailey, over the bridge crossing a rail line constructed by the New York Central Railroad, is the former Wildroot Root Hair Tonic factory. Across the street is the former Danahy-Faxon/Acme Supermarket complex built in the early 1940s. Behind the warehouse is the last remaining railroad roundhouse in Buffalo. Pullman Street refers to the Pullman Railcar shops just behind the roundhouse. To top it off, check out the painted signs on the former International Railroad Company streetcar barn on Broadway... "More Postwar Buses Mean Progress!!!
Eddie the bartender explained that Pristach was one of 5 taverns on a one block stretch from Broadway to Pullman Street. The tavern is spotless. More history to come....
Vintage pre-prohibition era bar and back bar
2008 - Regina Pristach, her daughter and "boyfriend" Ed.
Pristach’s closes doors, ending an era
February 20, 2011
By Donn Esmonde, Buffalo News
I promised Regina Pristach’s daughter, who was worried about her mother’s safety, that I would not run this column until Regina shut the bar. The bar is closed, and Regina recently moved in with her daughter. Now the story can be told.
She first walked in the night of her wedding. Sixty-seven years later, Regina Pristach still was behind the bar.
Pristach’s Bar stands on a bleak corner of Bailey Avenue. It outlived the prosperity of the neighborhood around it. It outlived the crush of hot Friday nights with work-weary bodies pressed against the back wall. It outlived its first owner and his son, Regina’s husband, gone 30 years ago. It outlived much of its reason for being.
Boarded-up windows cover the corpses of nearby neighborhood bars. Pristach’s soldiers on, barely. Customers are nearly extinct. Open only in daytime, its front door is fastened with three deadbolt locks. It is part barroom, part refuge. But it still is hers. All hers.
You don’t take things away from Regina Pristach. She paid her own way in life from the time she was 16. She was working food service at the old Larkin Building—take that, Frank Lloyd Wright—when a guy she knew from the neighborhood, Eddie Pristach, said he could take her away from it all. She took him up on it.
He took her right from the wedding reception to his father’s bar. The honeymoon— a week in Elizabeth, N. J.— could wait. The place was packed and there was work to do. It was Nov. 25, 1939. Fast-forward to the present. When I walked in on a frigid afternoon, Regina was sitting at the bar—white hair, wearing black slacks and a red floral print blouse. She is nearly 90, bent at the waist, as thin and tough as a leather strap. You don’t run a barroom hard by the railroad tracks and within stumbling distance of a brake factory on smiles and soda pop.
The place is like the woman, serviceable but not too fancy. The bar—wood with hand-milled cornices—dates from the place’s prefamily days as a bawdy house. Under the tin ceiling, a clock from a long-gone Dunkirk brewery—Koch’s, First Family of Fine Brews—hangs on the wall. The juke box runs scattershot from Patsy Cline to Deep Purple. Up a few steps and behind a curtain is the kitchen and bedrooms, where she lives with her boyfriend, Ed.
“We’re not married,” she growled. “And I don’t care who knows it.”
There are plenty of places like Pristach’s, shot-and-beer joints standing lonely sentinel in battered neighborhoods. Not many stay in the same family for this long. They are like outposts of a withdrawing army, living proof of a nearly dead past, reminders that time leaves us all behind—whether you move or stay in one place.
The place used to be packed, from eight in the morning—when the shift from the brake factory let out—until after midnight. It was one of a necklace of shot-and-beer joints on the block. Nobody drank with his pinky extended. Some of the men could sign only an “X” on the paychecks they cashed at the bar. Regina was law.
“I told them, ‘Watch your mouth or get out,’ ” she said. “ ‘I’m the only one who can use bad language.’ The neighborhood changed around the place, an old story. Folks left for the suburbs. The stream of customers thinned to a drip of familiar faces.
“Most everybody moved or died,” she told me. As we talked, a regular stopped by. He sat at the end of the bar. Ed fetched him a long-necked Bud. “I like it here,” he said. “It’s quiet. Nobody bothers you.” A visitor stood up to leave. Regina reminded him to button up, it’s cold out there. The door opened and closed, the sound echoing across the decades.
Located at the corner of Bailey and Pullman Place. The former Pullman Railroad facility is just across the street behind a warehouse
Celebrating the 2007 Classic Tavern Award!
Regina Pristach and daughter
The LAST Fine Time at Pristach's
In 2008, Forgotten Buffalo hosted the LAST big bash at Pristach’s as part of our celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Repeal of Prohibition.It was a magical night. A cold, snowy evening inside a warm historic tavern on the Eastside. The joint closed in 2010.
Click image above to see pictures from the Forgotten Buffalo night at Pristach's