Yesterday we ate lunch at an Olmsted Park restaurant. Yup. I still can’t believe that only two years ago the thought of a café at the Parkside Lodge was merely a dream (see post). Actually, at that time I don’t even think there were any talks of a café (must have been wishful thinking). And now, out of the blue, a partnership has been forged between the Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Amy McCarthy (co-founder and former partner at Globe Market). That means that another one of the city’s underutilized assets is back in business. Built in 1914 by the National Lawn Bowling Association, the Parkside Lounge once functioned as a North Buffalo clubhouse for some of the most esteemed lawn bowlers in the country. If you look closely you can still see the divots in the floor made by the thousands of cleats that have walked (and pitted) the floor.
Inside the brightly lit lodge is a fully functioning Lunch Box Café, filled with plenty of tables, which seat a wide variety of customers. Adjoining the café is a golf pro shop where urban golfers can find everything they need to get their game on. That’s just one of the reasons that we ran into golfers from the Buffalo Inner City Youth Fan Club eating lunch close by. They had apparently followed their noses, which led them to a smorgasbord of delights ranging from soups and salads to wraps and club sandwiches. There’s even a Delaware Park Dark Coffee available to sip on while munching on a bagel.
I had assumed that Amy would deliver the goods, but I couldn’t believe that we were all looking at such a list of items, including smoothies. This was such an unexpected surprise – to be seated in a place that was virtually out of sight and mind for so long – it’s too easy to think that Buffalo still can’t pull this stuff off. In an old club house… gardens all around… restored lawn bowling courts… the stone bridges marking the grounds of the park’s buried quarry and sunken gardens. Eating in a partially mended historic setting… a long lost Buffalo treasure that will someday be completely restored! Chalk up another victory for the city and region.
Although we were tempted to eat inside, amongst the historic photos and lawn bowling memorabilia, we opted to sit under the garden trellis and look out at the stone bridges (metal café tables and chairs coming soon). I figured that there would be plenty of time to sit inside when the colder weather sets in. And even then it will be a welcome attraction since there will be a roaring fireplace burning and snowshoe/X-country ski rentals on premise. Could it be any better? Who’s up for lawn bowling or a game of croquet? It’s as easy as calling ahead and securing a permit. Lunch at a parkside club? All of these conveniences make the Parkside Lodge perfect for weddings, graduations, etc. There are plenty of rentable grounds and amenities, all of which are catered by The Lunch Box. Call Arlene Mustafa at 726-884-9660 x2 or 716-858-2284 for all permit inquiries.
For anyone interested in venturing to this 7-day a week hotspot, navigating your way there could be the only hang-up. Currently, the roadway to get in can be found at the East Meadow entrance where Ring Road meets the 190. Or you can park right on Parkside and walk across the street. I suggest riding your bike as long as it’s nice out (bike racks coming soon). The café is open seven days a week. During the weekdays the hours are from 8am to 7pm. Then, on weekends, the Lunch Box closes at 3pm. Thanks to Thomas Herrera-Mishler, Olmsted Conservancy President and CEO, for pulling off this long-awaited accomplishment. Recycle bins courtesy HSBC Bank. Stay tuned for another Olmsted ‘Perk’ coming up later in the week.
*This Wednesday, the Buffalo Philharmonic concludes the 2009 Summer in the Parks
concert series with a concert in Delaware Park (at the nearby rugby field), conducted by Maestro Paul Ferington. The concert begins at 7pm and is FREE and open to the entire Western New York community.
Lunch Box | 84 Parkside Ave.
Buffalo, NY 14214 | 716-833-2182
And it looks like there’s plenty of room to grow…