The former Impulse Nightclub (517 Washington Street) is undergoing some big changes at the moment. Restaurateurs Harry Zemsky (Hydraulic Hearth) and Jon Karel (Buffalo Proper) are in the midst of transitioning the ‘iconic’ goth club (Club Diablo) into a tea room inspired by the “2nd golden age” of the cocktail in Europe.
I met up with Harry a couple of days ago to take a walk through of the space, which I remember for its dramatic red visuals, devils, funky furniture… the place was over the top in many ways. Even the exterior of the place was fiery red with gargoyles and iron gates. Now the idea is to create a space that will feature heavily textured Moroccan wallpapers, wainscoting, mismatched mini chandeliers, throw pillows, Andy Warhol X Flavor Paper, banquet seating, 1800 herringbone flooring, toile seat fabric, and stone and wood bar elements.
The idea is capture the look and feel of some of the most iconic tea rooms in the world, while adding some contemporary splashed for effect. This is going to be the type of place where people will stop in to lounge about before and/or after dinner. Of course there will be some exotic finger foods and puff pastries to try, but for those looking to sit down to a full course meal, this is not the place. Instead, customers might order a gin fizz, while relaxing in a sophisticated setting that appeals to the worldly wise. Angelica (tea room) will be a place to unwind and sample a wide range of exotic liqueurs, cordials, brandies, aperitifs, elixirs and gins. According to Harry, there will be more booze than any other backbar in Buffalo.
Serving takes on classic cocktails and traditional light fare of afternoon tea.
Harry and Jon came up with the idea for Angelica (tea room) well before coming across the building that the concept will soon occupy. The two hospitality veterans agreed that there was a need for this sort of cocktail focused tea room in Buffalo. Interestingly, Harry told me a wild tale of Prohibition that I had never heard before.
Apparently, during the era of Prohibition, a number of top cocktailers from this country bolted to Europe. It was there that a sort of “mash up” of practices occurred. They brought with them new bartending sensibilities, which were then melded with old European mixology practices. The result was the birth of the “2nd golden age” of the cocktail in Europe. And that, my friends, is what they want to introduce to Buffalo.
Europe offered sweet asylum for the greatest bartenders in American history, and that’s when things began to get interesting.
Guests to the limited seating cocktail bar might want to try a puff cloud sandwich or a scone, while seated at the long gracefully curved bar. But the tea room fare is only meant to whet the palate. The drinks will be center spotlight at Angelica, as will the dramatic decor.
“We’re excited to open a place that doesn’t have the shackles of being a restaurant,” mentioned Harry. “Buffalo is in for a big surprise. This is all about Parisian hospitality. There is going to be a coat check in the front, and other guest amenities that will make this a memorable experience. It’s going to be a real feast for the eyes, which will make the tea room a lot different from what people are used to – it’s all about the details. I believe that this will be perfect for this changing neighborhood. There are a number of excellent restaurants around here. We want to be the place where people meet beforehand, and then come back for cocktails after dinner (4pm to midnight).”
Angelica (tea room) is projected to open in January of 2017.