Williamsville’s Glen Park Tavern can call itself long-running, and mean it. Really, really mean it.
As the history portion of the Glen Park’s website puts it: “The stage coach route ran along Main Street in the growing village of Williamsville, NY. To attract area residents and travelers, the Glen Park Tavern was constructed in 1887 and has been operating as a restaurant and pub ever since.”
You can feel that history when entering the comfortable, intimate establishment, and that is a rare feeling. It is likely as well-known as any bar in the Northtowns, and it draws a large, loud, devoted clientele.
That, as my friend and I discovered during a recent visit, is both good and bad.
I had not been to the Glen Park in several years, but had fond memories of its lobster bisque. On this Thursday at the height of March Madness, I was uninterested in dining – that was probably a mistake; that lobster bisque was fantastic – and made a beeline for the bar.
The gorgeous bar, however, was several-persons-deep. We spotted an opening at the very end, and could tell right away this was not a place we could remain. Still, it seemed a good spot to grab some drinks, and then look for another spot.
The bartender took our orders (mine was a Southern Tier IPA), and as we waited, we were approached by a barrel-chested, ruddy-faced dude.
“You can’t stand here,” he spat out. I mumbled a “No problem,” and happily spotted an opening down the bar. He sneered at my friend as he waited for his change, and, as we soon saw, took up residence in the very place we left behind.
I know better than to consider one jerk representative of an establishment, but I can tell you that it was a poor way to start our visit. The basketball-mad duo next to us in our new location made things no better; despite having plenty of room to move down, they were apparently far, far too comfortable to do so.
Soon we had two actual seats, a couple more beers, and a much-improved disposition. The Glen Park had a lot to do with that. The wood-heavy interior was, quite simply, a treat to behold. The food smelled great and the beer selection was solid.
The draft options included two from Southern Tier Brewing Company (the aforementioned IPA, as well as the summer beer Hop Sun), two from Flying Bison (Rusty Chain and Helldiver), Shiner Bock, Sam Adams’ Rebel IPA, and some other usual suspects (Guinness, Blue Moon, Molson, McSorley’s).
Perhaps not a vast selection, it is nevertheless a good one, although gazing down the bar, I noticed that, yes, Michelob Ultra seemed to be the overwhelming favorite, at least among men over 50. (Our friend at the end of the bar was clutching an Ultra, of course.)
The crowd turned younger as the evening wore on, the noise level went down a bit, but the lively, energetic atmosphere remained. The Glen Park’s website calls it “a meeting place,” and that is apt. We had such a pleasant time that I felt a bit silly for having been so annoyed earlier.
In fact, when I visit again, I’ll have my eyes peeled for the ruddy-faced gentleman in the maroon baseball cap. In the spirit of the Glen Park, I’ll buy him a beer.
Glen Park Tavern
Where: 5507 Main St., Williamsville (626-9333, www.glenparktavernbuffalo.com)
Scene: A comfortable, intimate bar and restaurant at the heart of Main Street in Williamsville.
On tap: Southern Tier IPA and Hop Sun, Flying Bison Rusty Chain and Helldiver, Shiner Bock, Sam Adams’ Rebel IPA, Angry Orchard, Guinness, Blue Moon, Molson and McSorley’s.
Hours: Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday.