Forgotten Buffalo: Historic & Hip...An Urban Explorer's Guide to the Buffalo-Niagara Region: Unique Landmarks, Historic Gin Mills, Old World Neighborhoods, History, Nickel City Oddities, Tours and More!
Join me on a search for the most authentic and unique watering holes in the world. Gin Mills, bars, saloons, taverns and lounges that bring us back to a time when the corner pub was a vital part of many ethnic neighborhoods. No techno music or cover charges here.....Pull up a stool, order a "Genny" and chat about what's happening with the Holy Name bowling team. From time to time I will spotlight "classic" bars that have gone the way of 5 cent beers. Remember to order a Friday Fish Fry on the way out. Na Zdrowie!
CASE STUDY: Jonfre's Tavern: Niagara St, Niagara Falls, NY. Winner of my 2004 "Shot and a Beer Award" for the most authentic gin mill in Buffalo-Niagara. Ranks high in all "classic tavern" categories: location, curb appeal, decor, layout... Jonfre's is a living museum of popular culture.
Jonfre's Tavern is located in the traditional Polish neighborhood of the "cataract city."
Curb Appeal – Genesee Beer neon sign or signage from a defuncted brewery in window…usually the first sign of great things to come.
Location – Neighborhood setting. Located on corner of block. No parking lot…time to show off ones parallel parking skills.
Name –Includes the bar owner’s first or last name….Ulrich’s, Bramer's, Gadowski’s, Arty’s, Frank’s, Wolski's. Sometimes includes the tavern’s location: Edge of Town, Marilla Grill, Shannon Bridge. Better yet… when it includes both.. Dick’s Eastside Inn.
Atmosphere – How’s the “craic?” This is an Irish term used to describe the atmosphere of a good pub -- the food, drink, music and conversation. In a classic Buffalo tavern you might hear conversation about the unions, the Holy Name bowling team or energetic debates about the Sabres and Bills.
The classic tavern layout of Jonfre's features square tables and a men's room up front. Thrid generation ownership keeps the interior "ultra clean."
Layout – Bar and men’s room upfront, tables for dinning and women's room in back. Sometimes the men's & ladies rooms are near a phone booth built into the wall near the kitchen. Separate door on side of building for access to restaurant portion. Small square tables...used for cards or a place for the kids to sit and drink pop.
“The Book” – A registry of daily patrons. Still a common practice in many “classic” Buffalo bars. Each day the “regulars” sign “the book” and throw a dollar in the monthly pool. At the end of the month a name is chosen to win a sizable jackpot which generally is spent at the establish purchasing countless rounds for the bar.
Décor – Signs from defunct breweries: Simon Pure, Iroquois, Manru, Pabst, Blatz, etc. Pictures of patrons and or old politicians. A “classic” tavern will have missed the modernization movement of the 60’s & 70’s. An authentic wooden “bar back” is a must. These finely crafted edifices are the single most important piece of the environment. Listen to the sound of the wooden doors and steel latches being shut. If not an “ice box” style cooler… look for a classic Bevador refrigerator (shaped like a beer bottle) near the bar (Swannie House, Bflo).
Bar and bar back feature art deco elements. Note the well worn cooler doors that produce a distinctive "clunk" sound when closed...signaling another cold beer for a thirsty patron. Bar was produced in the 1920s by the J.W. Kawczyski Co. located on Latour St. in Buffalo.
Entertainment – shuffle-bowling machine, jukebox featuring songs from our parent’s generation, old men at the bar with plenty of colorful stories. A good Irish Pub will have live music.
Food – small grill behind bar or tiny kitchen tucked off to the side. Good supply of chips and pretzels on display behind bar. Does the bar serve fish on Friday and beef on weck during the week?
Beverages – Look for a fully stocked bar of inexpensive regional brews: Genesee, Utica Club and Miller High Life. If Irish….a well used Guinness tap.
Glassware – Draft beer served in short 4 ½ inch glasses. If Irish...uses of Imperial Pint glasses.
Etiquette - Pull up a stool and jump right into conversation. Look around the room and order a drink similar to what you see on the bar (About "mixed drinks" Please, do not order a Cosmopolitan or anything that involves fruit. Gin & Tonics or Screwdrivers are acceptable.) After a while, don’t be surprised if a few empty shot glasses or upside down plastic cups appear in front of you. The sure sign of acceptance is when the “mayor of the bar” buys a round and includes you.
When entering a tavern named Gadawski’s, one would not expect to see a décor based on shamrocks and leperchans. Located at 1445 Falls St. in Niagara Falls, Gadawski’s is a virtual shrine to the Norte Dame “Fighting Irish.” Owner Eddie Gadawski prides himself on having traveled to every ND home game in South Bend for the last 40 years. In addition to everything Notre Dame, Gadawski’s walls are covered with pictures of Niagara Falls sports legends and pictures of Eddie with almost every famous athlete who has ever passed through the PowerCity.
Open for lunch and fish fry’s on Friday, Gadawski’s is the only place in Western New York where the pierogies, golombki and Polish sausage from the kitchen is as fresh as the Guinness being poured behind the bar. I highly recommend the Polish Platter and the homemade macaroni and cheese served on Thursdays.
The bar is located in eye-sight of the Seneca Niagara Casino in a historically Polish neighborhood.
Beer of Choice Sampled During Visit:Labatt’s Blue
The neighborhood has changed, but Gadwaski's is still the same.
Shrine to the Fightin' Irish outside of Tavern
THE CROWN PUB, BELFAST, N. IRELAND
Inside the Crown Pub, Belfast
It’s like having a “tasty wave” inside a palace! With its swing doors, wooden floors and private sungs, the Crown Pub is a jewel of Irish History. Owned by the National Trust, operated by Guinness. The only light is from ancient ceiling gas lamps and rays of sun through Victorian etched-windows. Your fellow drinkers range from the trendy to the terminal, but all with the wit of Wilde and eyes on Black Bush. The most famous bar in Ulster, it survived 42 bombs during the “troubles” and is as busy as ever.
Situated on Great Victoria Street, directly opposite the impressively refurbished Grand Opera House, the Crown has the most perfectly preserved Victorian pub interior. Ten wood paneled snugs give customers a certain degree of privacy - while losing nothing of the atmosphere in this superb example of a ‘gin palace’.
The Crow's ornate, 19th century charm is enhanced by its scalloped gas lights, gleaming brasswork and a fine long bar inlaid with colored glass. The opulent marble, geometric Italian tile work and fine glass engravings of this most exuberant of pubs ofter leaves the first-time visitors open-mouthed and ready for a pint.
Established in 1826 and embellished in 1885 by skilled Italian craftsmen, the pub was given a sympathetic facelift in 1981, when great care was taken to maintain, preserve and restore, rather than renovate.What a night I had in 2002! Found in our “snug” was local street enchant, “Clive” who regaled us with colorful stories of IRA.
Beer of Choice Sampled During Visit: Guinness & Tenant’s Lager
Marty with Clive
I can taste this Stout in my dreams.
Musuem? Pub? Musuem? Pub?
Outside of the Crown Pub
J. J. Killeen's, Shannonbridge, Republic of Ireland
Country Pub in Offlay Co., Ireland
J.J. Killeen’s is a traditional rural Irish Pub that is part store, part pub and part town hall. Located in the town of Shannonbridge, Co. Offaly. The smell of peat burning in the fireplace gives this pub is warm, inviting feeling. The town is located only a short country drive away from one of the most historic sites in all of Ireland called Clonmacnois. Founded fifteen hundred years ago by St. Kieran, the site holds the world’s greatest collection of Celtic relics.
Beer of Choice Sampled During Visit: Guinness
Ale? Stout? Cider?
A peak behind the bar
Shopping with a pint of Guinness
Minutes away from Clonmacnois
OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS TO BE FEATURED
The WheelTapper, New York City
The Subway Inn, New York City
Green Ghetto Lounge, William St, Buffalo
Casey's, Amherst St., Buffalo
The Blackthorn, Seneca St., Buffalo
Klimek's Tavern, Oliver St., North Tonawanda
The Village Inn, Oliver St., North Tonawanda
Blendinger's, Genesee St., Buffalo
Nowak's, Sloan, NY
Hotel Malas, Dunkirk, NY
The Roman Coin, Milwaukee, WI
Sammy's, Milwaukee, WI
222 Gibson, Gibson St. Buffalo
R & L Lounge, Lombard St., Buffalo
Park Lounge, Clinton St., Buffalo
Eddy Brady's, Genesee Street, Buffalo
O'Reilly's, Cork City, Ireland
Daly's Bar, Seneca St., Buffalo
Wiechec's, Clinton St., Buffalo
Ray's, Clinton St., Buffalo
The Market Bar, Gibson St., Buffalo
Scharf's, Crossman St., Buffalo
Swannie House, Ohio St., Buffalo
Suburban Grill, Hyde Park Blvd., Niagara Falls
Hopper's Rush Inn, Seneca St., Buffalo
Mel's Bar, Jamestown, NY
County Clare, Milwaukee, WI
Roman Coin, Milwaukee, WI
Wolski's, Milwaukee, WI
Lombardo's Grill, Albany, NY
Laughlin's Franklin & Tupper St.
LOOKING FOR PICTURES & INFORMATION ABOUT THESE LOST LOCATIONS:
Stanek's at 615 Fillmore., a favorite for Eastside businessmen.
Eddie's Grill, 209 Paderewski, owned by Edward Szymanski. It was a very successful restaurant& bar, known for its good & reasonable food.
Eddie G's, Filmore Ave. between William & Peckham ,owned by Edward Grzechowiak, also a political destination
Always on the lookout for vintage pictures of people celebrating at thier favoriate taverns. Any in your family albums? E-mail me at Rocketship7@aol.com.
National Aniline, Inc gathering. Tavern unknown.
National Aniline, Inc gathering. Tavern unknown.
The Moonglow, Buffalo
Afternoon at Arty's Grill, 2004
Buffalo Irish Center, Jan. 2004
Luxury Lounge, 3rd St. Niagara Falls (currently named Cafe Etc.)