When Jack Reid opened Allentown Café last October, he thought that he was prepared for what was ahead. But there’s no telltale way to navigate a business during a pandemic, no matter how long one has been open.
Reid understood that it was a game of time – holding out as long as possible, until covid rules and regulations were relaxed. And that’s exactly what’s happening now. After a long covid winter, Reid is finally starting to see his investments (and patience) pay off. Not only is the vaccinated populace feeling better about walking into cafés and restaurants, the weather is also agreeable.
“It’s been tough financially, and mentally,” Reid told me. “I love the customer interaction, which has been missing from the equation. We were open for two weeks before we had to resort to take-out. Then, once the restrictions were lessened, the weather was still keeping people away. Now that has all changed. We turned the corner business-wise a couple of weeks ago. Now I can concentrate on operating day-to-day and growing the business, instead of just worrying about it.”
When I originally talked to Reid, he had mentioned that one of his game plans was to eventually cater to a late night clientele. Now that he has had plenty of time to think about what’s best for the café, he is ready to implement that game plan. Yes, he’s still planning on operating the café from 9am to 3pm Monday through Saturday… that’s his bread and butter. But on Fridays he’s going to reopen at midnight, to accommodate the late night crowd.
“I am a full time bartender,” said Reid. “That’s my other job. And when I get off work, I want a place to go that’s something more than fast food. Same thing with my friends in the industry. So when I leave my bartending job at 11pm on Fridays, I’m going to come over here to make sure that everyone is prepped, and everything running smoothly. We will stay open to 4am… and next month we’re going to be here until 5am. The food will be inspired by some of my favorite chefs that I follow, but catered to people who are drinking and want something delicious, filling, and quick.”
Reid said that late night service will eventually extend to Saturdays. He’s testing the “Friday waters” at the moment.
“The response has been very positive,” he told me. “There aren’t many places to go get good food at 3am – jerk chicken wings, a chopped burger, or something simple, like eggs-bacon-toast. The late night response has been great.”
Reid mentioned that he’s happy to finally be doing a nice consistent business during the day as well, serving up breakfast dishes, West Side flatbreads, salads, and sandwiches. Oh, and if his mom – Ms. Shantell – is anywhere close-by, she can tell you all about her famous mac ‘n’ cheese! That’s what I love about this place – Reid created it with his friends and family in mind… and if you live in Buffalo, you pretty much fall under both categories.
Allentown Café | 220 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY 14201 | (716) 768-4629 | Facebook
Allentown’s newest Cafe, serving Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee – breakfast all day, lunch, catering, other homestyle cuisine and fresh juices
$1 coffee Mondays sponsored by K Haus