One of Buffalo’s holiday rites of passage is stopping into The Place restaurant on Lexington Avenue to order a Tom & Jerry drink… and taking the mug home as a collector’s souvenir of course. This year, there is little choice but to take the mug home, since the pandemic rules mandate that there is no indoor restaurant seating. That leaves ordering options for food and drink to be picked up, delivered, or consumed on the porch or new parking lot patio.
In the case of The Place’s yummy Tom & Jerrys, there has been a decent demand for the hot and frothy holiday drink, which is considered both sweet and potent.
I joined a couple of friends as they walked over to The Place this past weekend, to order Tom & Jerrys to-go. On the way, they called in their order, and were prompted to tack on some food as well (NYS COVID regulations). So they obliged, by ordering some French fries.
The wait time on a Friday was about half an hour. And since the patio looked pretty full, we decided to walk around for a bit. On cue, half an hour later, their drink kits (custom ceramic mugs and all) were promptly handed off over the front porch.
To our surprise, restaurant owner Jay McCarthy (lead image) was the person who delivered the unassembled concoctions. Despite the pandemic, he said that the Tom & Jerrys have been popular – selling about 100 a day – but that pales in comparison to a typical holiday season where upwards of 400 drinks/mugs are sold each day.
While we chatted with McCarthy, we surveyed the parking lot, where there were a number of fire pits set up. The parking attendant was walking around stoking the fires, and delivering blankets to those that forgot them.
Although it was a scene right out of a surreal “end of the earth” film, there was something cozy and charming about it at the same time. McCarthy said that when he discovered that the tall propane heaters were on back order, he had to get creative. In the end, he proclaimed, customers really love the wood burning fire pits, especially when combined with a blanket and a piping hot Tom & Jerry.