For 25 years Eddie Brady’s has been a revered institution in Downtown Buffalo. What most people might not know is that Eddie’s business has rolled with the punches, thrown a few, and landed a couple in return. When Eddie (photo left) first purchased the business (Gandy’s at the time), this part of Downtown Buffalo was pretty rough. Chippewa was still mainly strip bars and essentially run down in each and every way.
Nobody walked the sidewalks unless they were looking for trouble. There appeared to be no hope in any direction, but Eddie got to work on his place by removing the drop ceilings, exposing the transom windows, fixing the facade, and making his bar as presentable as possible. Fortunately, the work that he put into the place paid off, and for years Eddie Brady’s was the heart and soul of a block (and neighborhood) that was otherwise in utter ruin. Remember the sign on the Genesee Gateway building that read, “Will the last one to leave Buffalo, please turn out the lights?”
Don’t think that it was always easy for Eddie. There was a time when his growing business took a big hit. Interestingly enough, it was when Chippewa started hitting its strides. “I walked into The Barrel House one day,” Eddie explained. “And there sat all of my customers. I walked right back out the door, and that was that. But only one of the businesses remains today – we’ve been around for a long time, and now we’re enjoying watching Downtown Buffalo rebuilding. When I bought this building (20 years ago), the Comfort Suites Hotel (TGI Fridays) was a big empty lot. People were sleeping in boxes. the Gold Dome building was vacant. There was no City Center. Chippewa was a filthy, dirty street. Today we have Toutant, Marble & Rye, Tappo, Big Ditch, and everything else that has recently opened. Even the US Passport business has helped us. We see upwards of 40 people a day coming in for lunch sometimes. The people complain about lack of parking, but I tell them that they wouldn’t have discovered me and had a great lunch if they parked in a big lot and didn’t walk… they laugh and agree.”
Recently Eddie Brady’s has gone through some significant changes. Years ago, Eddie’s brother Pat (lead photo – right) told him that if he added a full scale kitchen, he would come and join the operation. The problem was that there was no place to put a kitchen. So they came up with the idea to incorporate an underutilized back alley into the plan. That gave them plenty of room to build out a kitchen, and then they moved the giant walk-in cooler closer to the bar, which allowed for a quaint dining area. More tables and chairs were added bar-side, and suddenly the tavern had become a full service restaurant, serving up everything from sweet potato waffle fries to Eddie’s Steak (sliced tenderloin, peppers, caramelized onions, provolone on a grilled hoagie). “You gotta try the fried bologna,” said Eddie. “We’re famous for it!”
Along with a number of Buffalo favorites, customers can order daily specials (goulash, meat loaf, fish fry, etc.), along with wraps, and soups/salads. “We’ve only been doing this for a week,” Eddie shared with me. “But our business is way up – almost three times in fact. We added a couple of taps too. In the past nobody ever drank draught beer – today it’s our best seller. Aside with the kitchen and the new dining area, we made some additional improvements to the space, to make it more inviting. We fixed up the tin ceiling tiles, added art deco lighting, exposed some of the brick walls in back – I like the way that you can see into the kitchen, which was once the alleyway.”
Those familiar with Eddie and his establishment know all too well that the man prides himself on his collection of Iroquois breweriana (and Courier Express items). I asked Eddie about his fascination with the defunct Buffalo beer. He told me that when he was young, he had a paper route. One of the ladies on the route used to give him big tips. One time she gave him a five dollar bill, which, for that era, was unheard of. It turns out that the women was married to the owner of the Iroquois Brewing Company. Eddie told me that she was his hero, and her generosity inspired him to collect Iroquois products.
Buffalo is lucky to have this wonderful Civil War-era building standing – some others nearby were not so lucky. The city is also fortunate to have such a stalwart saloon operator who has stood guard over this part of downtown Buffalo for over two decades. Quite often, we look at all of the new advancements taking place in this city, and acknowledge those who are behind the developments. I’m happy that Eddie can share in those successes, all the while knowing that there was a time when he answered the call to invest in Buffalo, before anyone ever dreamed that this city would make a comeback. Talk about being a true Buffalo pioneer that we can all look up to.
Eddie Brady’s Tavern | 97 Genesee Street | Buffalo, NY | (716) 854-7017 | Lunch and dinner | Popcorn served after 4pm