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East Aurora Pour House set for grand opening

East Aurora Pour House seeks to occupy a niche in East Aurora as a sports bar that offers local craft beer, elevated pub fare and a friendly atmosphere. Abbreviated simply as EAPH, it's tucked away just off of Main Street, across the street from Vidler’s 5 & 10 and around the corner from 42 North Brewing Company.

"We want our place to be that blend where you can come in, get a good bite to eat, watch the game and have a beer that you want to drink,” general manager Bill Finnerty said.

Formerly the Craft Tap House, EAPH took ownership of the building in mid-November 2015. Finnerty hopes to re-invigorate a prime property that had become avoided by villagers. Because the previous business suffered from a struggling reputation, Finnerty knew he had to make changes in order to be successful.

East Aurora Pour House's front entrance, facing Main Street. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

East Aurora Pour House's front entrance, facing Main Street. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

When asked what upgrades have been made to the property, Finnerty said, “The only thing we didn’t change yet is the bar. We have new paint, new fixtures and kitchen upgrades.”

Upon surveying East Aurora businesses and bars, Finnerty noticed that a void existed. “There are so many different places in East Aurora, but there really isn’t a sports bar where you can get anything you want on draft and feel comfortable in a neighborhood bar environment,” he said

The name of the bar might sound familiar, as EAPH owner Dan Ranger is the same owner of Hamburg Pour House [read a Bar Tab on that]. But Ranger and Finnerty don’t want EAPH to be an exact replica of the Hamburg location. Instead, they hope to create a sports pub that meets the needs of its East Aurora clientele.

The ownership stops for a photo opportunity. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

Finnerty said the staff at EAPH was selected with the customer in mind. “It’s all about customer service. How can I help my staff and also help the customers? The group I have brought in to serve drinks at EAPH is a professional group.” Finnerty brought in assistant manager Rick DeMarco from the Springville Country Club to complement the staff.

Finnerty himself knows something about customer service; he started as a barback at J.P. Fitzgerald’s in Hamburg and worked there for over 20 years as a barback, social media manager and co-founder of JP’s Green Jacket Open Golf for Autism. Finnerty recalls the exact day he began working at J.P. Fitzgerald’s.

His first day, June 17, 1994, is memorable because it was the same day as the O.J. Simpson infamous Ford Bronco chase down the freeway in Los Angeles, California.

Finnerty recalls thinking, “This is what happens in a bar?”

Now, twenty-something years later, and at only his second place of employment, Finnerty has embraced his new role as general manager of EAPH and is excited by the possibilities. EAPH aims to complement nearby 42 North Brewing by providing another option to late-night patrons.

“When 42 North is open until 10 p.m., we are open until midnight. When 42 North is open until midnight, we are open until 2 a.m.,” said Finnerty.

One of his first orders of business was to hire a chef. A young but talented chef, 21-year old Alex Connors, is focusing on an array of homemade dips and chips, wings, burgers and fresh-cut fries.

Buffalo chicken salad, left, and a burger from East Aurora Pour House. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

Buffalo chicken salad, left, and a burger from East Aurora Pour House. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

“We have been so impressed with Alex. He will come out to check on the tables and make sure the food is how you want it. And if it’s not, he will fix it,” said Finnerty.

The menu is centered on pub-oriented fare. Three versions of homemade dips cost $9 and come in spinach and artichoke, stuffed pepper and Buffalo chicken wing varieties. A range of other appetizers range from fresh-cut fries at $4 to loaded fries for $8. Wraps, sandwiches and burgers such as the chicken Caesar wrap and Pour House burger cost between $9 and $11.

Chicken wings from East Aurora Pour House. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

Chicken wings from East Aurora Pour House. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

Finnerty and Connors have elevated the basic pub-style menu to include “The Pour House Combo." Customers can choose from three different categories and make 18 different combinations.

The Pour House Combo costs $13 and is selected from a choice of a mini-Reuben, mini-Rachel or mini-turkey sandwich, choice of chicken wings or chicken fingers and choice of pizza logs, mozzarella sticks or pour fries, all for $13.

“Eventually we hope to include a more refined dinner menu, but we don’t want to overshoot,” said Finnerty.

Homemade dip and chips from Alex Connors, a 21-year-old chef at East Aurora Pour House. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

Homemade dip and chips from Alex Connors, a 21-year-old chef at East Aurora Pour House. (Kevin Wise/Special to The News)

The beer selection was designed to focus on local crafts but still provide popular mainstream lagers. Of the 23 taps, EAPH has Labatt Blue Light and Molson, but the remainder of the taps are devoted to craft beer. Ranger and Finnerty have long-time connections with the ownership at both Ellicottville Brewing Company and Hamburg Brewing Company.

Therefore, bringing in local craft beer to EAPH was a priority. The majority of the taps are comprised of selections form 42 North Brewing, 12 Gates Brewing, Hamburg Brewing and Big Ditch Brewing. A pint of beer costs between $5 and $6 for craft beer, and is less expensive for Labatt and Molson.

EA Pour House_menu

Following a series of soft openings, EAPH is all set for its grand opening, scheduled for Super Bowl eve on February 6, 2016, beginning at 12 p.m to 11 p.m. Regular hours are noon to midnight from Sunday through Thursday and noon to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Finnerty said, “The villagers are ready for something here. When you come to East Aurora, now you have options. And we want East Aurora Pour House to be one of those options.”

Info: East Aurora Pour House, 701 Main St., East Aurora, 652-7687; noon to midnight Sunday through Thursday, noon to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

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