It was a cold, drizzling Wednesday at Whiskey Joe's. I flew in solo and started the evening with a pitcher of Coors Light, a double of Jamison and an order of chicken fingers for a little less than $20. Bartender Natasha Budhram swapped small talk with me as she finished up her shift. The fingers come with ranch-seasoned french fries that are unusual and delicious.
It's a quiet night, but bartender Jeff Hurliman talks with me about his family's rich history of running bars in Buffalo. They opened and ran the Basement on Chippewa, then Cheers (on Harlem Road) and Whiskey Dicks in West Seneca with great success. They closed the doors on those two bars and opened Mug Shots in Depew. After closing shop there over the summer, they decided to move to a higher traffic area on Transit and put some time and elbow grease into Whiskey Joe's, an establishment formerly known as Savannah's.
The bar looks like they put a great deal of work into it. The Hurliman brothers painted it themselves in alternating green and burgundy. Frank Sinatra's mug shot hangs on the wall next to a vintage movie poster for the great hockey comedy "Slapshot." "Pinball Wizard" played in the background as I soaked in the ambience. They've got a swank DJ booth near the entrance where DJ Skitzo spins on weekends.
My buddies Gregg and Mike met up with me, and we pumped some money into one of those newfangled Internet jukeboxes. Gregg doesn't drink, so he got a glass of water with lime and ordered a one-man buffet of 35-cent chicken wings (a Wednesday special) and onion rings. Mike went for a Southern Comfort and Coke. Two women popped in, settled on to one of the stools at the far end of the bar and grabbed some glasses of wine to celebrate making it through Hump Day. Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" (an old favorite) set the tone, while the three of us argued over politics. More people shuffled in, and we had a nice gathering going. I grabbed a smoke on the expansive outdoor stone patio with pint in hand and watched the world go by on Transit Road.
Jeff and I continued to talk about the bars that have come and gone in Buffalo over the years, and I ate the stories up -- pleased that this establishment has come.
4723 Transit Road, West Seneca
Scene: Mixed bag ages 20 to 50
Music: Classic rock during the week and music by DJ Skitzo on Saturdays
Drinks: Domestic and imported beers along with a modest, yet respectable, liquor offering
Dress Code: All casual all the time -- jeans and T-shirts