I used to walk into 253 Allen St. on the weekends and be greeted by familiar rock 'n' roll. Now, weekends at that address have my body buzzing from the bass pouring from the speakers.
Following some customer and musician-friendly renovations, Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar, formerly Staples of Allentown, opened its doors at the end of Allen, near the corner of Wadsworth Street, in July.
Most of the booths in the back have been removed, and the unflattering, always vacant deli case was taken out as well, making it considerably more spacious. The dark and narrow nook that holds down the end of Allen Street is now much more inviting.
My pal Dan and I found seats at the end of the recently extended bar on a Saturday night. Within minutes, we were sharing jokes and shots of whiskey with bar manager Dhamon, one of the few returning staff members from Staples.
I've been returning to 253 Allen St. since 2007, and Dhamon has been a constant that I could always count on for a conversation and cold drink. A friendly, knowledgeable and entertaining staff is something that DBGB thankfully still offers.
The 6-foot-tall sculpture of a Native American that used to stand guard near the front door has been moved to the back room, and the quirky quotes from Julia Child, Homer, Benjamin Franklin and others still adorn the bathroom walls.
With 17 beers on tap, close to 75 bottles of imports, craft and micro-brewed beers, wine, and a handsome liquor selection, Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar has something to quench even the pickiest of palates. Beers typically run from $3 to $7. The club also offers hockey night specials including two for $5 pints and happy hour specials like $2.50 select bottled beers and $3 mixed drinks. On Fridays, happy hour patrons are treated to a complimentary buffet of chicken wings and beef on weck.
Three televisions are mounted above the bar. There's also a dartboard, a Big Buck Hunter Safari arcade game and a jukebox sporting the tunes of the Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Elvis and the like.
A couple of bottles of Anchor Steam later, we shuffled across the Masonic black and white checkered floor and made our way through the crowd of mostly 20- and 30-year-olds with beards and bowler hats. Jeans, boots, plaids and Carhartts also freckled the floor.
We took a table in the back room next to a couple of dreadlocked hippies, where a deejay was playing some bass-heavy dance music. The club still knows how to draw in an eclectic crowd.
Local noisemakers Big Basha and the Queen City Cartel, just to name a couple, have residencies at DBGB, making it a hub for Buffalo's electronic music scene. The music isn't all electronic though, as an assortment of live acts can be heard at DBGB close to five nights a week.
A full kitchen is to be completed by early in the new year as well, focusing on Euro-pub style eats.
A hometown bar on the weekdays, a club-style venue on the weekends, and a restaurant in the future, DBGB is a new bar with an old feel.
From my own experience, it's a first stop, and a last stop. It's a place to come back to.
Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar
253 Allen St. (716-240-9359)
Scene: Dark yet inviting hometown bar with an eclectic crowd.
Drinks: Extensive selection of beer in bottles and on tap, liquor and wine.
Dress: Very casual. Pretty much anything goes.
Music: Live DJs, electronic music, local musicians, rock 'n' roll, hip-hop, and a jukebox with a mixed selection.