By Kevin Snow
You’ve probably never been to "Duke’s Pub" in Blasdell. It’s likely you’ve driven right by without knowing what you’re missing.
That’s because Duke’s is a man cave, the brainchild of Joe Best.
It’s been two years since the 48-year-old Best turned his garage into a full bar complete with a big screen TV, walls covered with Buffalo sports memorabilia and three suite seats he acquired from Ralph Wilson Stadium.
"For about 15 years I’d wanted my own man cave space. I had so much memorabilia piling up and nowhere to put it. We had a one-car garage that was rarely used, and I was just putting stuff in there," said Best. "I told my wife that I could fix it up into a place for the guys to come over and watch the games, and she was all for it."
Best created a unique ambiance in the garage by installing faux brick paneling over insulated walls. His father-in-law helped, too, installing lighting and 10 more electrical outlets throughout the garage. Best estimates he spent $800 to renovate the space, which accommodates around 20 people.
Becoming a neighborhood gathering place was also the motivation for Terrance Roberts of Lakeview, who turned his two-car garage into a local sports epicenter now referred to as the "Roberts Tavern." What started as a plan to add a TV in his garage for football Sundays quickly turned into a full-time obsession.
"I went from painting all the walls and floors and adding a bar, to having an electrician add recessed lighting and extra outlets ($500) for the crock pots people bring over for every Bills game. I also ran a gas line and added a vent-less gas heater ($250)," said Roberts, 44.
"We have weeks now where there are 20 adults and 15 kids here watching games. It’s an open door policy for anyone who wants to come," said Best, who also built a basketball court in his yard and hosted a party where the Strictly Hip performed live. "It’s all about friends and the community."
According to Mike Werbowski of First Buffalo Total Basement Finishing, the basic cost of a finished room runs from $40-75 per square foot, with a garage being slightly less. However, Werbowski does warn of the hazards when creating a new room in the basement.
"Everything is below grade because you’re underground, there are elements like moisture and condensation, and there can be sewer issues," he explains. "If anything leaks it will wind up in the basement. People really need to be aware of using the right materials, so they aren’t building it then ripping it out six months later."
These are the conditions that Tim Tryjankowski, 51, took into account when building his house in Clarence 20 years ago. He’d always planned to have a basement space to display the sports mementos he’d accumulated, so he made sure to design a room that would last.
"When the house was built we added a corrugated plastic wrap around the basement that helps keep water away from the foundation," said Tryjankowski, who recently installed a water pressure backup sump pump, along with a heavy duty sump pump. "I was selfishly thinking the entire time we were building the house that I wanted to make the basement as bulletproof as possible."
Just like Best and Roberts, Tryjankowski has sentimental items on display, which makes his man cave all the more special.
"Everything tells a story. There are a lot of cool little things that aren’t just something I own. It’s more about when someone is down there looking around, having a beer or a glass of wine, and you can tell all kinds of stories from everything on display."