Buffalo now has a piano bar that rivals the best of them. Bittersweet Piano Lounge is the brainchild of Gino Drake, who moved to Buffalo from Texas for a relationship. Actually, Gino still splits his time between Buffalo and Texas, and told me that he resides in both places… the best of all worlds.
On Thursday, October 20, Gino held the soft opening of the piano bar at The Hotel @ The Lafayette – an event that was not only well-attended, it was considered a big hit. A friend of mine, Sarah Fae Bohn (working the Buffalo piano beat) attended the opening, and said that the lounge – formerly Bourbon and Butter – was as breathtaking as ever. Thankfully, Gino had some great “bones” to work with, towards building out the art deco space to suit his needs.
“[The room] was built to offer this sort of experience,” Gino told me. “I’ve always had an affinity for piano and violin – they are such romantic instruments. For a while, the concept was developing in my head, and I began sharing it with some people. They loved the idea. It recalls experiences from the past… places like this that once existed in Buffalo. It’s based on a passion for the arts, and progress in Buffalo. There’s a certain level of intimacy that I wanted to capture, with wonderful vocalists and artists. A couple of our recent guests were from NYC and Chicago – they said that it is in line with the piano lounges that they have experienced in those cities. I’m hoping to return this lounge’s title as one of the greatest places to visit in Buffalo. I welcome y’all to come in for a visit.”
The soft opening sessions of the Bittersweet Piano Lounge are just the start of a wider range of solist style performances that will be offered, from romantic ballads to the jazz standards. Gino wants to ensure that there is plenty of diversity, which will attract a wider audience in search of their favorite types of tunes.
For anyone looking to attend an upcoming performance, be sure to check out Facebook for news of featured musical and vocalist entertainers, as well as days and hours of operation.
Bittersweet Piano Lounge | 391 Washington Street | Buffalo, NY | (716) 331-3654 | Food: Charcuterie board menu
On opening night, the acts were as follows: Artistic director and solist/accompanist was Ritchie English, and vocalists were Donna DeLano-Kerr and Jay Dref.
Photos by Sarah Fae Bohn