Following is an interview with Kevin Kirby, who will be opening Stone City Saloon at 220 Lexington Avenue (former Vera). Kirby started gaining industry knowledge as a barback busboy at Hutch’s when he was 15. He worked there off and on, under some of the best tutelage imaginable, until he was around 30 years old. He then poured drinks at Mothers for a number of years, and most recently spent some time behind the pine at Sinatra’s.
Where does the name Stone City Saloon come from?
Stone City was a popular Funk band from Buffalo in the 70’s. I like the name saloon because of the reference to public gathering halls in the late 1800’s in US history. No other bars/tavern in Buffalo are using that description for their establishment.
The saloon reference is just for fun. right?
This is a modern style saloon and not a country western bar.
What aesthetic will the interior reflect?
We will be using Buffalo-inspired black and white funky original artwork merged with murals and some pop color aspects for juxtaposition.
And the music?
Music ranging from Prince, Duran Duran, and A Tribe Called Quest or Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique to Rick James and James Brown or Nirvana… top pics of 70’s 80’s and 90’s. There will be a 100 disc wall mount CD jukebox.
Does the interior require an expansive buildout?
There will be cosmetic changes, and we will be expanding the bar slightly, with more open kitchen concept. Nothing major, just removing one non-structure bearing wall. I really want a be relaxed, comfortable, and clean environment where everyone can feel welcome and enjoy great food.
And the food?
Food is simple, fresh and high quality. Small menu – including sandwiches, specialty wings, and some vegetarian/vegan options.
Will you be considering the environment with your products at all?
We are going with all biodegradable and green-friendly products for utensils, serving trays etc.
What will the clientele be like?
If we were living in the book The Outsiders, The Place (across the street) would be the Socs and we’d be the Greasers…. but good friends instead of adversaries. We’re more of a funky, grungy bar/saloon with modern updates.
Who is designing the space?
My designer Candice, (Boxcraft Studio) did The Little Club, Lloyd, and Frank’s Hot Dogs.
Most of my career… meeting some of the best people in the world in the hospitality industry. Hutch’s primarily, Mothers, Sinatra’s… among others. I have server, bartender, maître d’ experience. The last 10 years I spent in sales and marketing at MVP Network Consulting, now SCRE.
Has the restaurant industry always been your passion?
I’ve always loved the industry, and knew I wanted a place when I was ready and when it made sense. 10 years ago I would’ve failed because I would’ve been doing it for the wrong reasons.
Do you have local inspirations?
I’m inspired by industry operators like Hutch, Steve Calvaneso, Henry and Chuck Mauro, Jay Manno, and Mike Sinatra. I’m a very lucky man to have met so many good industry people who are ready to help.
And the location?
220 Lexington made sense because of the location, size, neighbors, and walkability.
What’s the focus?
The focus is on friendly hospitality, delicious food, mixture of craft beers, and also a great cocktail menu and superb but small wine list. This is NOT a craft cocktail joint like Vera was.
When are you opening?
I’m hoping to open mid August. Hours will be 4-12pm during the week, and 4pm -2am on weekends. Sundays TBD. No brunch or lunch yet.