I’ll never forget the first time that I toured the space that was, up until recently, Staples bar in Allentown. I couldn’t believe that an old bar business had sat vacant for so long. Little did I know that Staples would become such a popular bar in its own right – attracting a clientele of music and beer-lovers unlike anything that Allen Street had seen. That’s why, when I heard that Staples was changing hands and reinventing itself, I was a bit stunned. Here was a bar that had done everything right… cool atmosphere, lively underground music scene, mad beer selection and bartenders who really understood the Allentown crowd. When a place is firing on all cylinders, why bother changing the formula?
Then I thought about it. Would you rather see a bar try to reinvent itself when it was down and out, or when it was drawing in the customers? It was clear that the original owner was looking to move on… and there were new operators waiting in the wings to take the concept to the next level. Maybe that is the right time to make a change-up. To keep the fires burning. Pat Duquin and Gabby Alfieri, the establishment’s newest owners, will be taking the Staples concept to that next level. Their intention is to pour gasoline on an underground music concept that has already been ignited, while adding a restaurant to the mix. It’s going to be called DBGB in honor of one of the greatest underground music bars in the world (CBGB). Duke’s Pat and Gabby intend to create a music scene that, from what I gather, will be reminiscent of the days of Buffalo’s legendary McVans. When I reached out to Pat and Gabby to ask a few questions, I was not expecting to read the following response. It’s an account of how they came to be where they are today, who helped them to get there, and what we can expect from DBGB:
“We love this city, and would like to do our part to help it grow and evolve socially, culturally, and economically. DBGB is one way we can do this. A place like this has been a dream of ours for some time, and now it’s finally a reality. Ironically or maybe not so much, we met in the restaurant business almost fifteen years ago. You know the story… smart-ass young waitress and dashing manager/maitre’d. Here we are now married and opening our own restaurant. The ironic thing is that now that it’s real it seems even more like a dream.
“There are two people that really deserve our thanks for making this possible. First and foremost, it was Peter Duquin, Patrick’s older brother, whose forward thinking made this all possible. He was the Duke in Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar. He was a colorful mix between Charles Bukowski, John Wayne, and the cartoon character, Popeye the Sailor Man. He would have loved a bar in Allentown, and most assuredly he would have been our most loved customer. The ‘D’ in the name DBGB is in honor of Duke.
“Also, Rick Sasala, deserves our thanks. He is a resilient and farsighted guy who is truly devoted to the Allen Street neighborhood. Without the opportunity to take over his family business, Staples of Allentown, we would not be here. In fact JJ Alfieri and Rick first got together back in 2003 and flirted with the idea of doing something together in this space. It didn’t work, but they kept in contact and actually put this deal together on the strength of their relationship while JJ managed the Bend right across the street. He gave us great bones to work with, and we are excited to take his vision to the next level.
“Let us not forget CBGB, the iconic NYC music club famous for the Ramones, Blondie, and the birth of punk rock. It has served as an inspiration for this project in that we intend for DBGB to continue that tradition of underground, cutting edge, and progressive live entertainment. JJ Alfieri former GM of the Crocodile bar, The Bend on Allen, and the 3rd Room (our brother/brother-in-law), has been brought on board as director of marketing and promotions, and he promises not to disappoint with his booking of live shows . He will provide for all tastes with music ranging from local acts to international recording artists. Recently he had a show for the ages at the 3rd Room patio featuring Vinnie Amico of Moe and Keller Williams with local legends Sonic Garden. He will also include world famous DJ’s spinning Dub-step, Drum and Base, Electronica, and a variety of other popular genres. Potential future acts that he has been in contact with are Robbie Krieger of the Doors, David Grisman, Charlie Tuna of Jurassic 5, Steve Molitz of Phil and friends, and many more. So we anticipate being a premier live music venue focusing on intimate shows of a high, high caliber! That is DBGB ‘fsoat’ (formerly Staples of Allentown).
“Of course, no posting on this place would be complete without a mention of those who have come before. We are all restaurant/bar people deep down to the bottom of our guts. This life has been our heart and soul for the majority of our years on this earth. It’s in our veins. So we can’t forget all the great operators that we have had the opportunity to learn from: Jim Alfieri of 31 Club/Crocbar/The Stuffed Mushroom, Mark Alfieri and Dick Manke of the Crocbar/Lafayette Taproom, Mark and Charlie Goldman of the Hardware/Calumet/The 3rd Room, Mark Hutchinson and Mike Haefner at Hutch’s, Henry Gorino, John Tronolone, and Chuck Mauro of Oliver’s/Siena/800 Maple amongst others. They deserve kudos too. Without them we wouldn’t be here doing this.
“As for DBGB, we know everyone is wondering what we are going to do with the space formerly known as Staples of Allentown. Over the coming months, the people of Allen Street can expect to see some serious remodeling with of course sensitivity to the integrity of the space, the building and most importantly the neighborhood. This will include more bar space, the creation of a spectacular light enhanced stage area, a fully operational kitchen and dining room, and so much more.
“The idea behind this project is to create a balance between restaurant and nightspot comparable to the Alfieri Family’s old spot, The Stuffed Mushroom on Main Street. At the same time we hope to help feed the Allentown people’s love of live entertainment and support for the arts. We invite you all to experience this wonderful evolution at the corner of Allen and Wadsworth, and this exciting chapter in our lives. DBGB is sure to bring together the best of Patrick’s (AKA Doogie’s) 13 years of experience at Hutch’s restaurant, Gabby’s lifelong legacy in the biz, and JJ’s experience operating some of the city’s premier nightspots (and success at promoting the best parties and live music out there). We’re excited to bring this to Allentown and sincerely hope we can add something great to the community.”