Forty Thieves Kitchen & Bar is hosting its soft opening today. Owners Tommy Cowan and Brian Scanlon have revamped the former Blue Monk. I spoke with Tommy who was elated at his good fortune, to be able to open a pub that is so centrally located on Elmwood Avenue. This new venture, Forty Thieves, is a laid back watering hole that intends to be a regular stomping ground for the neighborhood. I asked Tommy what went through his mind, when he was handed the keys to the place. How do you successfully upgrade an already beautifully designed bar/restaurant?
“I didn’t want to step on Mike Shatzel’s toes, by simply reopening the same space,” Tommy told me. “The Blue Monk was one of the most successful locations in Buffalo. I wanted to honor that legacy, while updating the look and feel at the same time. I spend my spare time visiting and researching pubs and bars. I’m always interested to see what other people are doing. Everything that I/we did here was my way of creating a great pub-style atmosphere, with some regard to Buffalo’s history. From the elevated pub fare to the images of this city’s Irish community, we wanted to design a place where people would stop in after work to grab a bite to eat at the bar, and a drink. We will be open for lunch, and will also have a late night menu, serving food until at least 2am.”
The name Forty Thieves is an ode to the first gang in New York’s history. “They were an Irish gang,” Tommy told me. “Brian and I are from South Buffalo, so it’s a fun tribute. It fits with the whole pub vibe. We’re going to have a small bourbon-based cocktail list, with three cocktails on tap – a Manhattan, a bourbon sangria, and an old fashioned infused with apple cinnamon.”
Forty Thieves has a rejuvenated look about it. It still possesses the great bones of the Blue Monk, with some industrial design refreshers. The walls sport images of historic urban life, including street urchins puffing on cigarettes, and Buffalo boxer Jimmy Slattery striking a pose.
According to Tommy, the pub’s fare will reflect the surroundings. “We’re going hard on the ‘wing game’,” he mentioned. “We’re going to be serving up our famous Smitty style wings (on the menu at one of Tommy’s other establishments – Doc Sullivan’s). We will have a slow-cooked beef tenderloin sandwich, Scanlon-sized potatoes (a play on a shepherd’s pie), a Buffalo-style meatloaf sandwich, homemade reuben rolls and beef on weck rolls (plays on egg rolls)… it’s going to be mainly hearty pub fare, with soups and burgers, but we will also have some lighter fare, including salads.”
Patrons will also enjoy the option of eating/drinking on the front patio, or chilling in the back beer garden. Forty Thieves will be open 365 days a year, from 11am until at least 2am. “I love this neighborhood,” said Tommy. “The people are great. Everyone stops in to ask what we are doing. And is seems as if everyone has a dog. I think I’m going to stock some dog biscuits behind the bar. People really care about this neighborhood, and it shows. We’re very happy to be here.”
Forty Thieves Kitchen & Bar | 727 Elmwood Avenue | Buffalo, New York, NY 14222 | (716) 886-0305 | Facebook
Now open for drinks (just in time for the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts) – food coming soon.
Night time photos: Justin Klesic