Mark Supples and Amy Taylor have opened up an “upscale dive bar” in the former Angelica Tea Room space. I say upscale dive bar because of the combination of the couple’s past experiences in the world of restaurants and bars. Supples and Taylor are synonymous with iconic Buffalo establishments such as the Pink Flamingo and Mothers. But it was the Zemsky family who created the fashionable Angelica Tea Room aesthetic, much of which can still be seen in Supples and Taylor’s new venture, House of Charm.
After paying a couple of visits to House of Charm, I must say that it reminds me a heck of a lot of the original Mothers restaurant, when there was a pool table in back, and one of the best jukeboxes in the country. A lot of that “dive bar” vibe got polished up over the years, as Mothers switched up its edginess for a more sophisticated clientele. So when I initially walked into House of Charm, I immediately got hints of the old days of Mothers, when it was centered around a casual game of pool, a cheap(er) bottle of beer, and the sounds of Iggy Pop.
House of Charm has a lot of things going for it. Moving the pool table to the back of the bar (it was up front when it was Angelica tea Room) was a stellar idea. The move freed up the front of the bar for a lounge area, which works a lot better than a gaming area. And while there is not a killer jukebox, the music at House of Charm is reminiscent of the old Mothers caliber of tunes – Motown, Lou Reed, Bootsy Collins, Aretha Franklin, surf, Clash… Cash… Big Chill, rockabilly, Americana, among others. My friend Rich Wall, who has always had a hand in the WNY music scene, told me that he felt that House of Charm has some of the best tunes around, and I would have to agree.
Aside from the great music selections, the Zemsky-infused atmosphere, and the relocation of the pool table, House of Charm is just a nice place to hang out. There’s plenty of room to be comfortable, tons of seating (at the bar, bistro tables, or lounge area), eclectic lighting, and prolific Buffalo bar slinger and restaurant talents such as G. Andrew Love Jr., and Niko Georgiadis (formerly with Pano’s and Lockhouse).
The only drawback that I have found is that upon our last visit to House of Charm, the lighting was too bright, which I have also heard from other people. The first time that I stopped in, it was much more subdued – all of the eclectic chandeliers were toned down, which created a much cozier bar scene. Granted it was later at night, but it’s still worth a mention. Other than that, everything else seems to be in order, especially considering that Supples and Taylor are such hands-on (and experienced) operators.
House of Charm is an excellent addition to the downtown restaurant and bar scene. Right out of the gate, it looks as if it’s going to be another one of “Mark & Amy’s” long list of hits.
Snacks include olive medley, cheese board, and pâte
Paninis include prosciutto and fresh mozzarella, marinated and grilled eggplant (with roasted red pepper and provolone), and ham and cheddar (with heirloom tomato)