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At Connor's, colorful stories go with the food and drink

A murder.

Evidence of a hold up. (Not related.)

Magic and old-school bartending.

Who knew the mundane looking Connor’s Restaurant in West Seneca could be so interesting?

We pass Connor's frequently as The Father lives nearby. And while we’ve eaten here a few times, we didn’t know the bar scene could be so much fun.

From left are Bob Elmes of West Seneca, Paul Hasenstab of Elma, Roger Penn of Cheektowaga and Don Wereski of Cheektowaga. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

On a weekday after work, we were pretty much alone in the bar area except for the darling 96-year-old having dinner with her son who kept teasing her about stealing the silverware.

We counted eight beer taps: Stella Artois, Southern Tier IPA, Bass, Killian’s, Labatt Blue, Sam Adams seasonal, Blue Moon and on our stop, the last of our summer fave, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

Bottle beers are the usual suspects and wine comes in a huge Connor's goblet. Prices are cheap. We got $12 plus change back from our $20 for our draft and rum and coke. Mixed drinks run $3.50-$5, drafts $2.50-$5, bottles $3.50 and up. Glasses of wine start at $6.75.

Connor's bartender Dan Block cuts the roast beef by hand for a beef on weck. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Dan The Man our bartender filled us in on Connor's fascinating history. Around since the 1890s, Connor's started as an inn/brothel (who are we to judge?). With Cazenovia Creek running behind the building, we can see why. The inn part, not the brothel.

As luck would have it, current owner Bob Schmitt happened by and added color commentary, including the tale of an unsolved murder in the early 1900s in a barn that used to be out back. The story goes there was a barn dance and a man was shot. As he lay dying, he never divulged who shot him. Apparently he had been dabbling with a married woman. Was it a woman scored? An enraged husband? The case is still unsolved.

Fast forward to the 1980s and the next crime. Still visible on a bar cooler is a shotgun burn mark. Evidence of a robbery gone bad.

But you’ll have to stop in for that story, including details about how a waitress came out and hit the assailant with a whiskey bottle.

Connor's has calmed down since its wild early days, but has maintained an old-school charm we loved, like the carafes of wine Dan poured for a waitress before carving each of us a succulent roast beef on weck ($10.59).

Beef on weck is one of Connor's more popular dishes. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

We cracked up at the paper placemats: “See if you can find 9 misspelled words hidden among the ads of this place mat.” We are sure if we had our reader glasses, we would have found more than “insence.”

Appetizers are buy-one, get-one (most $9.99) after 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and include a jumbo shrimp cocktail, clams casino, stuffed mushroom and spinach artichoke dip. See? Old school.

Dan the Man also is a magician. Starting at 8 p.m. Saturdays, his magician buddies entertain guests in the dining room and bar. It’s a holdover from when he used to work at Cheektowaga’s historic Forks Hotel. A score of them will be in town for a magic convention, and at the restaurant Oct. 21.

Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Connors surprised us. But we shouldn’t have been. When a place has been around forever, there’s usually a story behind it.

Connor’s Restaurant
3465 Seneca St, West Seneca (674-9945; connorsofwestseneca.com)

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Scene: A quintessential local tavern with lots of history.

Drinks: Nothing fancy. No drink specials, but prices are cheap.

Makes you want to shout: Free halftime buffet during Bills games.

Parking: Large lot.

Wheelchair-accessible: Yes.

Connor's Bar and Restaurant is at 3465 Seneca St. in West Seneca. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

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