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Big Changes at Blackthorn Restaurant and Pub

Author: Eric Dacey

If you live in South Buffalo you can smell a certain something in the air. On a good day it’s Cheerios, on a bad day it’s Sorrento Cheese!

But recently there has been another smell that has everybody talking – the smell of change. South Buffalo has been doing some growing up as of late. A number of restaurants have been contributing to what should be considered a significant growth spurt. One of those restaurants, Blackthorn Restaurant, is majorly contributing to a change that all of Buffalo can be proud of – the beloved South Buffalo restaurant is currently undergoing a significant transformation.

By purchasing a city block on Seneca Street, the owners are creating a sensational destination in the neighborhood. Over a quarter million dollars is being invested in the project. The major advancements include a 50-space, fully lit parking lot, and a two-level steel patio built over a beer garden with expansive yard.

These dramatic new spaces will offer guests privacy with the addition of a rock/living wall. There will be an outdoor bar, fire pits, horseshoes, cornhole, and a beautiful green space. This is a far cry from the restaurant’s humble-yet-praised beginnings. The development marks a brand new day for the restaurant, there is no doubt.

The added amenities will accommodate myriad functions, from birthday parties to bridal showers. Plus, on cold South Buffalo nights, visitors will be able to warm up by the fireplace, with bowl of French onion soup. Why don’t more restaurants in Buffalo have fireplaces? The owners are thinking about all seasons, thankfully. Owner Pat Lalley said “We wanted to create a warm Irish pub feel.”

As you can see, the facade improvements are already complete. “The exterior was redone to resemble a pub you would see walking down a street in Ireland,” said Lalley. “With the Shea’s Seneca project, Lofts at St. Theresa’s, Hook and Ladder Development, and the other inspiring local businesses on Seneca Street, that smell of change could be around for quite some time.”

Blackthorn Restaurant and Pub2134 Seneca Street | Buffalo, New York | (716) 825-9327 | Facebook

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  • BuffaloGals

    Love The Blackthorn, this only makes it better. A South Buffalo staple.

  • Vandra

    I’m all for improvements and growing business on Seneca Street, but there used to be a building anchoring the corner here (see photo). Now there’s to be a parking lot at the corner. Sure, this benefits Blackthorn, but at what cost to the neighborhood? It would have been great for an expansion to run along Seneca to the corner with parking hidden behind.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d80d5f6928034ac2e9335b4bc368d2dc206c9b4c4f6d848901aa04fb2ab33485.jpg

    • mikmo323

      They also knocked down the building on the other corner a week ago… I’m done with that place unless they have some serious plans not just a patio and a sea of parking. Across the street the Dollar general has a giant parking lot too.. It makes South Buffalo look like Lackawanna.. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f454bfb8511624768bc100c8f558d6a833600382b65c87fc630b20a375788ac2.jpg

      • Josh Robinson

        I still can’t believe they tore down a home for green space. Nothing says “vibrant urban commercial strip” like huge gaps in the streetscape for parking and grassy lots.

        • Wise Profit

          Buildings with no business operating in them is no more vibrant than a parking lot. You can say it is but it just isn’t. Could stores eventually have moved back into those two structures? Sure, but assuming those same interested parties eventually want to open up on Seneca Street they can move to one of the other dozen or so abandoned storefronts.

        • OldFirstWard

          I just drove by on Sunday night with my daughter and just noticed all the empty space on both sides of the building and a excavator sitting on the lot. I was telling my daughter about the neighborhood and the various buildings when we came upon this block. I told her that this is exactly what you don’t want to see with new development and I hoped they didn’t tear down any good stock for whatever they were about to do. Now I see what was there. Just when I was trying to point out to her about neighborhood density. What a tragedy.

      • Wise Profit

        “unless they have some serious plans” – You mean like a 2nd story patio, beer garden and extra parking for all those new customers? Sounds like pretty serious plans for a block of Seneca Street that hasn’t made a turn for the better in years if not decades.

      • OldMarineFE

        You have some kind of problem with Lackawanna? Who the hell do you think you are??? How much money do YOU have in the revitalization of South Buffalo? Or, are you just runnin’ your stinking soup tool, just to hear yourself talk??? You MORON…

        • mikmo323

          I personally have nothing against Lackawanna… to answer your question I own three homes in South Buffalo (all of which have been or are in the process of being rehabbed)

          However it’s hard to like a city (if you can call it that) that allows the 2nd nicest (and by a far margin) building to be knocked to the ground without a care in the world. Your mayor actually was pro-demo when the rumors i hear had people that wanted to buy it and renovate it… give Lackawanna something to be proud of instead of the empty weed filled lot where it once sat…

        • OldFirstWard

          You mean the same Lackawanna that tore down the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building for no reason? Or the Lackawanna that takes forever to pave roads. Or the Lackawanna that spawned a terrorist cell? Or the Steelawanna slums? Or the Lackawanna with the ugliest city hall in Erie County?

          The best of Lackawanna is OLV, the Basilica, and the Holy Cross Cemetery.

          • BuffaloGals

            Someone from the Old First Ward criticizing another place for poorly paved roads, slums, and ugly architecture? Interesting.

            And yeah, I bet if they hadn’t lived in Lackawanna they wouldn’t have become terrorists. What a fucking clown you are.

        • anibanib

          You made a comment on a site just a few hrs ago………… I have been banned from, a discussion about Sweden and immigrants……so here is my reply………You really a very arrogant blind old twat………the newcomers to Sweden over the past 5 or so years are fine people,polite and educated…….unlike what your vile gob utters, kids learn the language in 4-6 months………and they are extremely grateful for what we are doing for them…..where is your country, you too have a good share of these…..so called…… third-world, cowardly, filthy, savage dogs! ……..

          According to the 2009 American Community Survey, there were 38,093,725 Black and African Americans in the United States, representing 12.4% of the population. In addition, there were 37,144,530 non-Hispanic blacks, which comprised 12.1% of the population.[35] This number increased to 42 million according to the 2010 United States Census, when including Multiracial African Americans,[33] making up 14% of the total U.S. population
          …….whereas in my country these poor people account for about 2.5% of our population………and then you say that,,,,,,Their BS will NEVER happen here…open your Eyes it has been in the USA since you country was founded……..1796 you had a population of about 4 million, and 96% were black slaves……and even today they are still classed as 2nd or 3rd class Citizens……..

  • John Louis

    I’ve refused to go here because of the way they treat their neighborhood. I too, am all for improvements and growing, but I don’t believe in making my building taller by knocking down all others around me.

    • BuffaloGals

      Blackthorn is one of the only strong aspects of this neighborhood. They’re investing in their neighborhood and making themselves bigger and better. They’ve been here for YEARS. Someone else is welcome to come in and “treat their neighborhood” better any time now.

      • Jordan Then

        Unfortunately, in their effort to improve their business and their neighborhood, they will likely have the opposite effect over the long term. You can’t have a nice neighborhood business district without a greater density of shopfronts.

        • eagercolin

          Yes, the empty storefronts have really been a boon to Seneca Street. Years from now, historians will date the decline of South Buffalo to the time when one of its strongest business expanded. If only those dumb micks would have listened to enlightened tastemakers like you!

        • Wise Profit

          So holding back a thriving business to keep a few empty storefronts is the key to success then? Duly noted.

          • UrbanLove

            It’s not a binary situation: empty or demolished. They could be mothballed OR rehabbed and reused immediately.

          • OldMarineFE

            Well, well.. I’ve got an idea for you, cupcake. Why don’t YOU buy up all the rat-infested, clap-trap, eye-sores around the area and do it the way YOU want it??? Where were YOU when all the money is being paid out? People like you make me SICK! Why don’t you impress us by telling us about all the great and wonderful things that YOU have done for the area! You should be doing what the rest of us are doing, getting down on our knees and thanking GOD that these people chose to put money into such a sorry-a$$ neighborhood, in the FIRST PLACE!

            PUT A SOCK IN IT, YOU UNGRATEFUL, MORON, POS!!! I got your, “urbanlove” hangin’…

          • UrbanLove

            Your comment is about a intelligible as you are intelligent. I love the second grade maturity.

          • OldMarineFE

            Heh… Really? Obviously you need more intelligence to understand and more capability and honesty to have an answer. Like I said, you’re a frigging moron and I’ll add, a big, fluffy bag of hot air…

        • BuffaloGals

          They’ve been there for the long term, and there’s been no other improvement to the neighborhood except what they’ve provided. If other development starts anywhere else along Seneca Street we can revisit this down the road – parking lots can later be built over if there is demand. But as of right now, they’ve watched absolutely nothing develop around them and they seized an opportunity to improve themselves. What else would you have them do?

          • Jordan Then

            You can’t demolish your way to greatness. Clearly, abandoned and decaying buildings aren’t good for the neighborhood. Neither are empty lots or large parking lots.

            This development may be good for Blackthorn, in fact, it will probably improve their business. But, it isn’t going to do anything for South Buffalo in the long run.

          • Wise Profit

            “This development may be good for Blackthorn, in fact, it will probably improve their business. But, it isn’t going to do anything for South Buffalo in the long run.”
            The health of the commercial strip is directly tied to the health of the businesses that make up that street. Its a sum of the parts. If Blackthorn does better then logically the strip is doing better. These were empty storefronts that contributed nothing to the neighborhood.
            Do you think thriving commercial strips are full of unprofitable businesses? Do you think failing business strips are full of profitable businesses? Look around this, what is “thriving” on the street except for Blackthorn? Maybe Tops and Tim Hortons?

          • Jordan Then

            I think that these demolitions eliminate the business “strip” and create business “islands”. An urban business district must consist of a critical mass of varying shops.

            Demolition isn’t the path forward. This is the exact same path pursued by existing businesses all over the city for the past four decades, and look where it got them? How is Broadway doing? Genesee? Fillmore? Ontario? South Park (First Ward)?

          • eagercolin

            None of those streets was emptied out by thriving businesses expanding.

          • Jordan Then

            That’s inaccurate. Downtown especially (not previously mentioned) was obliterated by parking in just that manner.

            The point remains, that you can’t build a successful business strip without buildings.

            This is creating a half suburban landscape with all the disadvantages of both urban and suburban living without any of the advantages of either. To thick to be jelly, to thin to be jam, it’s ends up in a semipermanent state of decline. We’ve seen this story before in Buffalo a hundred times. We know how it ends.

          • eagercolin

            No, downtown wasn’t demolished by successful businesses expanding.

          • Jordan Then

            There are dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of downtown buildings being demolished for parking to service neighboring businesses/buildings.

          • eagercolin

            As I said, downtown wasn’t demolished by successful businesses expanding. It was actually demolished (largely) in a failed attempt to prop up dying businesses.

          • BuffaloGals

            The Blackthorn has been good for South Buffalo in the long run, because its been here, and operating successfully, for a long time. They determined they needed more space for their business. They could have packed up and moved somewhere else that had all the space they needed. Then this block could have had 3 buildings ready to be rehabbed.

            Or, maybe after 40 years of waiting on development to come to the neighborhood they’ve stood alone in, they realized it wasn’t going to kill the neighborhood to knock down two buildings that weren’t contributing to it in any meaningful way.

            So yeah, I say that a bigger, improved Blackthorn is better in the long run for South Buffalo than the smaller footprint Blackthorn and two abandoned buildings. There was no guarantee, nay not even an indication, that the other two buildings stood any chance of being rehabbed.

    • Wise Profit

      And I don’t believe in cutting back the success of one flower in the garden so that it looks more like the lifeless stems surrounding that flower.

  • RayFinkle

    Blackthorn is a cornerstone within south buffalo, wreck away. This will be a great addition. Johnny boy can go back to Elmwood and cry about tall buildings….

    • John Louis

      Must be a Drumpf supporter. Always looking to divide, and lookout for ones self instead of recognizing SoBo is part of a larger community that is the city of Buffalo. Sad.

      • BuffaloGals

        I’m from South Buffalo and I support this. Have you been down Seneca Street? Blackthorn is one of the few successful businesses there, and they have been for a long time. It’d be one thing if they were demo’ing in a vibrant neighborhood to add more parking, but the buildings they knocked down were hardly architectural gems and its not like they’re inhibiting other developments on Seneca that weren’t coming anyway.

        • John Louis

          I have, I live not too far from Seneca st, and I stopped going after they knocked down the corner building what, a year ago?
          Look, just because you don’t see the value in these structures today, or they might be abandoned today, but knocking them down does not help the city in any way. There are literally dozens of buildings I can point to around the city that have been abandon for decades, and have very recently been rehabbed, occupied, and have spurred growth nearby. 5 points area and Connecticut street come to mind.
          Knocking down these buildings is incredibly short sighted. I’m sorry you can’t see that.

          • BuffaloGals

            The Blackthorn looked at those buildings for years. Development never came. I’m not going to begrudge the people who have actually invested in this neighborhood (again, for years) wanting to make their own business better. Why should they wait around and just assume these hypothetical developers are going to come and rehab this neighborhood?

            I am generally on the side of preserving buildings, even seemingly uninspired ones, versus demos. But in this case, I refuse to vilify the one business in this neighborhood that has stood strong and not closed up shop or fled elsewhere. If demand comes to this area, I’d be happy to eat crow and see the parking lot build over in the future.

          • 16th street

            Again, knocking down buildings around you just to make yours taller is not the answer.

            Please, I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen a parking lot get built on, but have lost count at how many vacant delapitated buildings have been rehabbed.

            I know right now, that with my modest income, I can buy a vacant building, rehab it over time, and get a business going. Look at Urban roots, 5 pts bakery, sweetness 7, shoot, any business on grant. They are all physical proof of exactly what I’m talking about.

            But for me to buy a vacant lot and try to get a bank to loan me money, easily double the cost of vacant plus rehab, if a bank would even dare lend me money?? Please. Talk to any small business owner and they will tell you: it is more feasible to rehab an existing structure than build new.

            I’m sorry if you can not see this fact, but your view is unfortunately very wrong.

          • BuffaloGals

            You’re still typing about hypothetical. I’m talking about what has actually happened. The Blackthorn has stood pat at this location. It has watched this neighborhood fail to develop. They want to improve their own property, and they don’t want to wait around for someone else who might never come to make their neighborhood better. An alternative to get the space they needed might have been to pack up and go to a different location. Instead, they’re expanding. I’m sorry that you’re so very wrong on this.

          • 16th street

            You’re just repeating yourself and not bringing anything new to the discussion.

            I’ve given you several examples of vacant buildings coming back to life as viable business, many of those structures I listed were vacant for decades. Looking back on google streetview, both structures knocked down were vacant for less than ten years. Again, validating a short view.

            The “expansion” they’re proposing is on land that was already vacant, so, there was no need to knock down the two buildings. The vacant land will now be used for surface parking, which is not only a suburban characteristic (sobo is still the city of Buffalo by the way, key word, CITY), but is also now recognized by the green code as not a necessity.

            You’re either an friend of this business, or of the common antiquated Buffalo mindset that you must be able to park within 3 car lengths away from any business at any time or you will not patronize them.

          • eagercolin

            “(sobo is still the city of Buffalo by the way, key word, CITY)”

            There’s no such thing as sobo. It’s called South Buffalo. If it’s proper name is too taxing, avoid speaking about it.

            Beyond that, the implication that a city is only one thing is stupid. Allentown is the city, and so is Fillmore and Box, and so is South Buffalo. Each space is different. Suggesting that there is one correct way for them to be — or one correct way for them to develop — is absurd.

          • 16th street

            As someone who has spent years haunting 911 tavern, eating imperial pizza, and hanging out at caz park, I know for a fact that I’m not the only one who calls it SoBo. Either way, who cares.

            But, my point that SoBo is still part of the city. City in most contexts, are areas of dense buildings. We call Albany a city while Amherst a town, even though Amherst has more people. Why? Because Albany is built more dense, like a city.

            So, one building, surrounded by an acre of parking, like you would see in Amherst, makes it more like a suburb or town, than a city. If that’s what you like to see, move to a suburb or town. If you like a city environment, you don’t cheer for demolitions and surface lots.

            So yes, there is a better way for a city to develop, if they would like to remain a city.

          • BuffaloGals

            Well, its too late now. When we see some (ANY) evidence that development and investment are coming to Seneca Street, I’m sure we’ll regret it. In the meantime, I plan to enjoy The Blackthorn as I have and as the neighborhood has for 40 years.

          • greenca

            Actually we call Albany a city because it’s incorporated as a city, and call Amherst a town because it was incorporated as a town. Size and density doesn’t matter. The city of Tonawanda is a city, even though it appears to be a small village.

          • 16th street

            For the sake of argument can we agree that a city tends to bring up a mental image of a place with dense buildings? I know the dictionary is ambiguous about exactly what a city looks like, but when a friend says “I’m heading out to the city” you imagine a place more like Chicago vs a place like Elma or Amherst. Can we agree on that?

          • BuffaloGals

            I’m a friend of the business in that I regularly patronize it, but I have no connection to any of the owners or anything like that. I also don’t need to park within 3 car lengths of where I’m going. I’ve lived in big cities without a car. But I’m also not part of the self-righteous group who claims that they’re not going to support a business just because they knocked down two vacant buildings that, yes, in the last 10 years have housed a couple unsuccessful businesses that didn’t really bring any real investment to the neighborhood. I’m sure there were other business there over the last 40 years as well. As someone who lived in South Buffalo for 18 years I was unfamiliar with any recent businesses in those buildings, nor were my parents who have lived in South Buffalo for over 50 years. So its not like they were an indicator of a coming renaissance.

            All the examples you named are on the West Side and have benefitted from proximity to the most affluent neighborhood in the city, full of people with disposable income. If The Blackthorn waits for that kind of development to get to their area of Seneca Street, the owners will be dead before they can expand their business the way they envision.

          • 16th street

            In fact, the building they just knocked down, was still occupied in 2015, and the corner building was still occupied in 08. Hardly this doom and gloom picture of 40 years of abandonment surrounding Blackthorn. If every building on Elmwood was game for demolition after only being vacant for a few years, most of it would be gone! Casa di pizza has been gone for several years, that building where Saigon cafe is was vacant for almost 8 years until they moved in just a year or two ago. The old blue moon was empty for over 5 years until Joe’s deli opened recently.

            Do you need more examples of why your position is antiquated?

          • eagercolin

            Examples on Elmwood aren’t relevant to South Buffalo. Obviously.

            And, to anticipate your reply, examples from the west side and other locations also don’t apply. South Buffalo isn’t affluent (like Elmwood) or full of young and supposedly cool types with social capital (like the west side and elsewhere). Nobody’s going to show up and make it cool. If the neighborhood is going to improve, it’s going to be the neighborhood that does it. That’s starting to happen, and what’s happening at Blackthorn is part of that.

          • 16th street

            My point with those examples is they were vacant for long periods of time. These two were only empty for a few, certainly not a just cause for demolition.

          • BuffaloGals

            My main complaint is not criticizing razing buildings unnecessarily. I get that, and I almost always support preservation. It would have been great to keep these buildings up. But its the vilifying of the business that has stood tall and invested in this neighborhood for 40 years that kills me, and the self-righteous claims from people that they won’t support it because of this, especially when many (yourself excluded, apparently) they probably don’t frequent any businesses in South Buffalo to begin with. I wish Seneca could see the investment Elmwood and the surrounding neighborhoods have, but not every neighborhood can have the advantages Elmwood has nor will every neighborhood develop into a dense, walkable neighborhood when our city has less than half the population that it did in its heyday, with no indication of a coming population boom.

            I hope I’m wrong. I hope I’m proven wrong about demand for Seneca Street. But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the business already there. Cool?

      • Wise Profit

        I am not a Drumpf supporter (way to think for yourself in your insults btw) but I recognize that SoBo is part of a larger community and that is why I wish for positive improvements to the businesses in SoBo such as Blackthorn. Thats what this is.

        • UrbanLove

          It’s not. And, people can disparage Elmwood all they want, but it is the best commercial stretch we have in the city. A big part of which has to do with the density…..So, people can call it elitist and precious and whatever else they want–fact is, the numbers prove it’s a success story, and this development just went in the opposite direction from that.
          And, it’s SoBu not Bo.

          • BuffaloGals

            Elmwood is also in a much wealthier area than Seneca Street. A large part of Elmwood’s success is tied to the fact that the people within walking distance have a lot of disposable income – not so in the Blackthorn’s neighborhood.

          • BuffaloGals

            I’ve also never heard of South Buffalo referred to as SoBu or SoBo in my life.

        • John Louis

          If you read my comment, I responded to “Ray Finkle”, not “Wise Profit”. You using two log in names and forget to respond with the correct one?

  • UrbanLove

    Really bad development–I won’t go here: 1) dumb fauxstolgic design and 2) unnecessary demolition. See ya…..

    • eagercolin

      How ever will this long running and successful business survive without your patronage? You really cut to the core of them! I’m sure South Buffalo will rally around you and your middle class pretensions to good taste, and abandon a place they’ve been eating and drinking for years!

  • eagercolin

    It’d be a real tragedy if these demolitions kept EV-style aesthete jerkoffs from overrunning South Buffalo.

    • BuffaloGals

      Don’t get me wrong, Seneca Street needs the development and hardly needs more demo’s, but vilifying The Blackthorn when they’re stood strong for years and years as the neighborhood has fallen apart around them, when they could have easily left, is insane. They’re investing (and have) in this neighborhood when very few other are/have.

      • eagercolin

        Yes.

  • Ivan Putski Jr

    That second rendering is not a very accurate portrayal of your prototypical Blackthorn clientele. Must be the “New South Buffalo” I’m hearing about

  • zigy

    my gad what is this , is someone in buffalo actually making an improvement with neither a grant of tax credits, this is what must happen when you elect a trump, blatant pure capitalism, something, t thought, we gave up on in buffalo a long time ago……

    • buffal066

      You do realize this is still the Obama administration, right?

  • Cool Breeze

    I’m glad they tore down the old hardware store/building on the corner. I once slid into it with my car and dented the newly-installed aluminum siding. The owner blamed me.

  • RayFinkle

    @disqus_o1SDsQbDIc:disqus nope Wise Profit is someone else, voted bernie all the way , just a south buffalo home owner and life long member who would rather have a long standing business invest then let Elmwood hipsters slow down the growth of our community… #elmwoodandforestave south buffalo is a different ball game….

  • eagercolin

    Here’s an idea: how about armchair urban planners and aesthete urbanist jerkoffs keep the words “South Buffalo” out of their mouths?

    • Josh Robinson

      I think I need a shirt that says “aesthete urbanist jerkoff.” It really is a lovely insult that I would be proud to be associated with.

      • Captain Picard

        You are my new least favorite person on BRO.

        • Josh Robinson

          Aw shucks Picard, you are too kind. I know there is stiff competition in that regard.

          • Captain Picard

            Indeed! Not to worry, though–my feelings of annoyance are fleeting.

            You aesthete urbanist jerkoff, you…