Envision ‘Vintage Room’

Restaurateur Paul Jenkins (of Remington Tavern) has a vision for Chippewa Street that many people have shared over the years. Chippewa was once considered the essential party district for Buffalo. It was a wild ride, with bars jam-packed until the early hours of the morning. Trying to get down the street by car took way too long, which is why so many drivers avoided it. Other drivers loved to spend time inching their way down the street, checking out all of the people. The sidewalks were filled with revelers, bar-hopping from place to place.

From red light district to party zone to… well, Chippewa is in a sort of state of flux. One of the most recent additions to the street is Vintage Room, which is owned by Jenkins. Vintage Room is part of the “restaurant movement” that Jenkins hopes will revitalize the street.

“There are six hotels in close proximity,” said Jenkins. “There are a lot of businesses, and New Era headquarters is around the corner. I wanted to open a spot that was for an older clientele, many of whom partied back on the street during the day, but who might have negative perception now, especially later at night. I’m a fan of everything that my friend Jay Manno had done, with SoHo and Frankie Primo’s. The street is ripe for a full resurrection as a dining district. There’s a good mix of young kids on the street too, which helps to enhance the area’s vibrancy and broaden the sense of real community. Vintage Room is right next door to Emerson School of Hospitality. When school lets out, there are young people everywhere. These are fun cool kids who add life to the street. Then there are the professionals who work nearby. I like to see a mix of different types of businesses and people on Chippewa – they all add to the vibrancy.”

In order to properly build out Vintage Room, Jenkins and his business partner/son, John Paul, gutted the space, which was formerly home to Crocodile (very popular back in the day). The focal points are dynamite stained glass window components that were once part of Mulligan’s (disco era) on Hertel.

I stopped in a few nights ago (early evening), and was greeted by bartender Giovanni Ingrao who previously worked at Encore and Falley Allen. I was hoping to recoup some energy, so I ordered the “house” espresso martini, which I later learned is on a nitrogen tap. My friend was hungry and proceeded to order a steak sandwich with hand cut fries, along with the Sandiarita (El Jimador, triple sec, watermelon, jalapeño, lime, and Tajín). As my buddy was awaiting his sandwich, I was off to my next drink; Ingrao suggested that I try one of his specialties – an old fashioned, expertly smoked in a glass decanter. While the espresso martini was divine, the smoked old fashion was brilliant. The smell of hickory (I believe) was equally captivating, as was the hypnotic smoking process in its entirety.

Running the kitchen is Carrie Donohue (formerly with The Cheesecake Factory), who, Jenkins told me, has volume experience and knows how to get stuff done. Between Ingrao’s attention to detail behind the bar, and Donohue’s spot on cooking of my friend’s steak sandwich (very rare – just how he wanted it), everything was going according to plan during our recent visit – especially considering that the place has only been open for a couple of months.

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Vintage Room joins a plethora of other restaurants on Chippewa, including Bacchus, Ted’s Hot Dogs, Bada Bing, Rachel’s, Waves, Salsarita’s, Spot Coffee, Jim’s Steakout, and Sue’s Deli, which relocated to the corner of Main and Chippewa not too long ago.

Jenkins admits that Chippewa has had a lot of ebbs and flows in the past, but he is confident that there is an upward swing that should pay off, as long as people continue to come back to the street to see what’s new and different. I’m pretty sure that the more people discover Vintage Room, the more “at home” they will feel on Chippewa. Supporting these types of pro-Chippewa businesses is how we can all fuel the change in the heart of the city.

Vintage Room |  88 W Chippewa St, Buffalo, NY 14202 | (716) 356-3113 | Wednesday is karaoke night | Kitchen open until 1am

MonClosedTueClosedWed04:00 pm – 02:00 amThu04:00 pm – 02:00 amFri04:00 pm – 02:00 amSat04:00 pm – 02:00 amSunClosed

The post Envision ‘Vintage Room’ appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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