189 Public House opens Thursday in East Aurora, offering Southern-inflected comfort food in a two-story space that’s designed as a live music venue.

“We were able to take advantage of the natural brick, and the two-story structure, to create a number of levels for sightlines for the music venue,” said owner Clark Crook. “Somewhat similar to (Buffalo’s) Sportsmen’s (Tavern), but unique.”

It’s next door to Bar Bill, which Crook owns too. But 189 Public House is a separate operation. You won’t be able to order Bar Bill food there, no matter how impossibly crowded the popular wings-and-weck joint gets.

The menu at 189 is a whole different kettle of catfish. “We developed a bar menu that’s really small, appetizers, sandwiches and a couple of entrees,” said Crook’s son John, who will lead the kitchen. “It’s centered around comfort food, and it’s a little bit inspired by Southern cooking, because we don’t really see that around too much.”

Appetizers include a basket of bacon ($7), grilled shrimp with bacon vinaigrette ($14) and moules frites with curry sauce ($14); entrees include fried chicken dinner ($15), shrimp and grits ($17) and a bratwurst platter ($13).

It’ll hold about 100 for dining, 200 for music. At first, the performance schedule will be slow, a few dates a month, Clark Crook said. The kitchen will be open for lunch and dinner, noon-10 p.m., though that could change on performance nights.

The menu is below. But first, fried chicken:

fried chicken at 189 Public House small

and a taste of the meatball:

meatball at 189 Public House

Read the menu of 189 Public House, a bar-restaurant set to open in East Aurora.

Read the menu of 189 Public House, a bar-restaurant set to open in East Aurora.

(Hat tip: Fr. John Mack)

Photo: 189 Public House

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