For some restaurants, the pandemic gave them a chance to regroup and strategize. Some restaurateurs cleaned their kitchens and bars, others revamped their menus, while others reimagined their entire business model.
As for Allen Street Hardware Café owner Charlie Goldman, he decided that the time had come to focus efforts on creating a old-fashioned and slightly European style dining experience that would cater to the residents of Allentown. He already had a building with incredible “bones” that would lend towards this type of intimate vibe, he just needed to get down to the basics – to figure out what the space wanted to be… and what his loyal customers wanted to see.
It all started with polishing up the interior; bringing it back to life by enhancing the innate historic charm. This was done by resurfacing the table tops with artistic embellishments, while adding a dramatic mural to one of the prominent walls. A number of the table tops now feature hand painted maps of Buffalo, including Allentown, Cazenovia, and others. Subdued color motifs were painted throughout the restaurant to create a more relaxing vibe. New imagery was hung on the walls, in the form of old posters. Other aesthetic additions range from mosaic tiles with new back bar, and a new kitchen floor – some of the improvements are noticeable, while others are not.
The new “chill” look of the restaurant called for an elevated pub-style menu. Some of the offerings include Bavarian pretzels, roasted vegetable flatbread, a crock of French onion soup, chicken cobb salad, burgers, crispy buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, The “Cod” Father (beer battered fish sandwich), half roasted BBQ glaze chicken, steak frittes, and dessert, coffee, and espresso.
“We wanted the food to be more approachable,” said Charlie. “Since we redid the whole place, from the bathrooms to the bar, we wanted to change up the menu too. We hired a new chef – Alex Georgiadis – to run the kitchen. Alex ran Pano’s back in the day, with his father and brother. We decided that we wanted a menu that would be appealing to a lot of people, with food where people could sit down and relax for a couple of hours if they felt so inclined. Also with simple menu items where customers could come in for a quick bite to eat. We want to become the neighborhood eatery and saloon. We have hired all professionals… it’s a great knowledgeable staff.”
As for music, Charlie said that would have some live music here and there, featuring acts like Pine Fever and Christopher “Xotec” Moody – “bands that draw and fit our new vibe,” said Charlie. “The bar will close at 2am.”
Thus far, the response to the new dynamic has been good, according to Charlie, who said that they are still undergoing a soft opening. Summer is also a slower season – he plans on being fully prepared to go “full steam ahead” come September.
“I think that the neighborhood will really like the direction that we’re going in,” he told me. “It’s nice, romantic, and comfy, which is the way that we like it and the way that we’re going to keep it.”