Buffalo’s “long lost” Puritan building has attracted the attention of a couple of new bar/restaurant owners. The building, which has been off the city’s radar due to its boarded up appearance for decades (see back story), is on the verge of coming alive again, thanks to the aspirations of developer Noel Sutton, and restaurateurs Dan Hagen (photo left) and Jake Strawser. Dan and Jake are already in the process of transforming one of the formerly unoccupied commercial spaces into a cocktail club, befittingly called Billy Club. The name pays tribute to the days when a speakeasy called The Pilgrim Dining Parlour operated in the building.
Upon opening, Billy Club will be a place to relax, experience good food and drink, meet with friends, and enjoy a different sort of Allentown vibe. There will be a heavy slant on the whiskey selections – an attribute which will dictate much of the direction of the establishment. Both Dan and Jake will be tending bar, serving up whiskey cocktails in a clean, minimalist setting that they feel is unlike anything found in Allentown. “We want to do something that is streamlined and contemporary,” they told me. “We wanted to do something different than the other restaurants and bars that have been opening up around the city. Instead of dark wood accents, it’s going to be brighter and more vibrant.”
Billy Club will offer seating for 38 diners – 24 on the floor and 14 at the bar. There will be an emphasis on new American food – something that the seasoned industry professionals identify as fusion cuisine, using the backbone of American cooking techniques with European twists. “We’re going to offer a mostly small plate menu, with a couple of entrees,” they explained. “We want the food to reflect our bar concept. We’ve both visited numerous bars with worldwide whiskey programs and we want to build the menu around many of the bar offerings. For example, we would like to introduce whiskey into the preparation of the food, and pairing courses with whiskey. We want our customers to have the option to learn something about what it is that they’re drinking. The Billy Club is not going to be a party bar, instead a place where people can gather to experience fine food and drink.”
The two are eager to introduce people to a place they feel is a bit outside of the realm of offerings found around Buffalo. Not that there aren’t already some incredible bars and restaurants here – they are simply looking to add to the mix, and give people another alternative to the places they are already frequenting. “The bar and restaurant community in Buffalo is super welcoming,” they both agreed. “We’re excited to take this place that sat empty for many, many years, and transform it into something that contributes to the new wave of openings we are seeing in the city. We are committed to providing a full service dining approach, with a responsive trained staff.”
Dan and Jake also want to add to the integrity of Allentown, and feel their concept will be welcomed by the neighborhood. Billy Club will be a place where neighbors will want to hang out – it’s going to be a bit upscale, which will help to preserve and enhance the integrity of the street. They are hoping to have the business up and operational by early 2016. At that time, city dwellers will have a place to call upon whenever they feel the need to dine (dinner only) in a quaint, contemporary setting, attended by aficionados who care about the entire experience, from the time of the seating, to the delivery of extraordinary offerings throughout the evening.