Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery has officially opened in the Old First Ward. Business partners Sara Heidinger, Bill Metzger and Bridget Morris have converted a defunct funeral home into a swank coffee shop with a clever Day of the Dead theme. It’s a little quirky and fun, yet serious when it comes to its offerings.
More than anything, I was surprised by the sizable interior, which is not what I was expecting at all. The front seating area of the café is roomy and open. A short step up in the back, and customers find themselves in a cozier atmosphere with coffee bar and booth seating. There are plenty of colorful design elements along the way, most of which playfully reference the roots of the building. Take the ‘Cream-A-Tion Station’ where customers can find creamers and sugar. Preferred customers can join the Roastery Club, where they get to have their own coffee mug, to cherish and love ’till death do them part’.
There’s a lot more than coffee at Undergrounds. Customers will find a wide range of edibles, including a breakfast item called The Ralph Wilson – egg delights on bagel, The Alfred Peet(a) – an egg and toasted bread concoction, The Colonel Francisco – egg, sausage, pepper jack, apricot chipotle spread on bagel, The Tim Russert – egg and bacon on grilled cinnamon roll topped with icing, maple syrup and cinnamon powder.
The lunch options include The Dutch Smuggler – garden veggie cream cheese, cucumbers, apples and crispy udon noodles with swiss, The Grower Cleveland – BBQ pulled chicken with gorda cheese and honey aioli, and The Luigi B – salami with sliced pepper, mesclun mix, espresso infused ricotta, and apricot spread. There are also plenty of salads, pressed juices, muffins, croissants, bagels, cookies, and of course flavored lattes, cappuccino, lattes, espressos, cold brew iced coffee, French press coffee and teas.
Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery is an excellent addition to this part of town, which really needed a coffee shop (see history). “We have about 10 more things we are adding on (including the Rick James ) on our website,” Sara told me. “All our sandwiches are named after dead people connected mostly to coffee or Buffalo. We had a lot of fun creating the menu with Bridget’s brother – Ryan Morris. He helped us work out the creations of all our funky sandwiches and spreads.”
A visit to Undergrounds is worth the trip, even if you live as far away as North Buffalo (and beyond). The neighborhood is on the rise, and is situated in close proximity to the Buffalo River. There are bike lanes too, so consider making the trip on two wheels. The next time that you strap your kayak onto the roof of your car, consider fueling up at Undergrounds before hitting the water.
I love the mom ‘n pop vibe and the playful atmosphere that abounds. Who would have thought that someone could successfully convert a funeral home into a hip café?