I've been a fan of The Place restaurant ever since my parents starting taking me there when I was little. During that time there have been a few changes here and there, but for the most part The Place is much as it was back in the day. That's why I was so surprised to see the monumental changes to the bar room that are underway. As I was walking past the corner of Lexington and Ashland a couple of hours ago, owner Kenny Moriarty flagged me down for a quick look-see.
When I walked in my jaw hit the floor. The rugs were ripped out, there was a new bar with a copper top, the walls had been painted, the tables had been removed, the brass ceiling vents were polished, there were more TV brackets on the wall, the ceilings were bright white... and there was a new awning on the front of the building. The plan, Kenny explained to me, is to turn the bar area into a room where people can watch Sabres games unencumbered. "I'm replacing the old tables with six high top tables," said Kenny. "We'll still have the dining room in the back towards the kitchen (with the booths), as well as the large side room for dining, but the bar room will mainly be for the Sabres' fans that come here on a regular basis to watch the games."
A number of years ago The Place did renovate an entire side room for dining, but many customers opted to continue to eat near the bar where the old world-deco atmosphere remained. In recent years The Place has become known as a relaxed bar/restaurant where one can catch a hockey game and mix and mingle. A new generation of Buffalonians have figured out what makes The Place so special, and Kenny is retrofitting the interior to accommodate a new and improved business model. In essence, The Place will now have a distinct bar and two dining areas (plus a banquet room in the far back). The back bar will feature a lit stained glass window that has been hand crafted by Six Dimensions (also located on Lexington Avenue).
I'm looking forward to seeing the completed, new and improved The Place, as my wife and I are big fans of watching hockey games there and it's almost impossible to find a seat at the bar. The tables in that room have always been designated for eating, making it tough to enjoy a sports watching experience. Some of the old diehards might find this arrangement tough to adjust to, but in the end it's probably a good move for the business. The only thing that I will miss is the classic, retro, dark-green leather cushioned bar bumpers that made for a comfy lounge-style bar experience. I hope that those found a good home.
229 Lexington Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222