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Buffalo bars helping out former Old Pink employees

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It has been nearly two weeks since the fire at the Old Pink in Allentown. Now, other bars in Buffalo are doing what they can to help former employees get back on their feet.

Paul Baggs, the bar manager at Mulligan’s Brick Bar, got word of the fire just hours after it happened. He had just returned home from closing his establishment when he started to see pictures surface online.

Baggs knew he wanted to help in any way possible. He described the businesses on Allen Street as a tight-knit community.

“Some people think that the Old Pink was one kind of bar and that Mulligan’s was very different,” Baggs said. “The reality is that we have always shared a crowd. People would come out and have a couple of drinks, and then they’d get hungry and want a steak sandwich, so they’d go next door or vice versa.”

Baggs said a lot was running across his mind when he finally arrived at the scene of the fire. At first, he was concerned about Mulligan’s being damaged. After realizing the fire was contained, he started thinking about all of the people affected, including the Old Pink’s employees.

“You don’t expect your job to just be gone,” Baggs said. “Maybe somebody needs money immediately. We are right at the end of the month; people have rent due.”

Neighbors pay homage to The Old Pink following fire, demolition

After discussing with the bar owner, it was decided that Mulligan’s will now be open 7 days a week. The business had been operating five days a week ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, but Mulligan’s wanted to make up for the loss of the Old Pink, which used to be open every single day.

The bar also hired two former Old Pink bartenders, a custodian, and a bouncer. With these expanded hours, business has been booming. Baggs said the response from Buffalonians has been indescribable.

“We’re getting some credit for doing all of this, but it was remarkably easy because you just work with what you got,” Baggs said. “We had a little wiggle room and just helped out.”

Mulligan’s isn’t the only establishment making a “good neighbor” gesture.

Cole’s, located on Elmwood Avenue, has added a steak sandwich to its menu called “The Ode to the Old Pink.” It’s a 12-ounce sirloin strip with Guinness stewed red peppers and onions, topped with provolone cheese and served with fries and a pickle.

Cole’s is donating 25% of the profits made from selling the $30 sandwich to Old Pink employees. The restaurant has already raised $1,000.

“People have been raising about it. We’ve had a lot of great feedback,” said Cole’s head chef Tim Wornick. “We’ve probably sold about 180 right now and we’re going to keep running it until the end of next week.”

A GoFundMe has also been created to help raise money for the business. As of Friday, it has raised over $48,000. If you’d like to make a donation, you can do so here.

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Trina Catterson joined the News 4 team in 2024. She previously worked at WETM-TV in Elmira, a sister station of WIVB. See more of her work here.

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