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A great start; O'Neill's Stadium Inn is a rookie club with a winning attitude

O'Neill's is an incredibly good-looking phoenix rising from the ashes of a previously unremarkable pub. There is new flooring, a new light tan-stained bar, two beautiful bar mirrors and a disco ball. The repainted walls are an emerald green and an added row of swank looking booths round out a luxurious dining room. A battalion of vintage beer cans lined two rows above us with brands and designs that no longer existed.

Bill and I arrived at 8 on a Thursday night. A crowd of 20 people were already eating, drinking and playing darts. Jillian served us a pitcher of Labatt Blue, a double of Johnny Walker Red and a double of Jack Daniels on the rocks for $22. Our friends Ed and Chris ordered a double of wings half-hot and half-garlic Parmesan. I sampled a few and the wings were especially crispy and spicy with a nice tang to them. After looking around, I noticed that every other person at the bar either has a meal in front of them or a take-out container on deck.

A country song by Carrie Underwood gave way to some generic classic rock power ballad. By 9 p.m., Nikki took over for Jillian. Our friend Chuck bought us a round of Pinnacle Whip vodka shots. They were sweet, smooth and they went down like a creamsicle with no harsh aftertaste. Bill and I enjoyed a cigarette just outside of a spacious enclosed patio on an outside wooden deck with a brand new set of stairs.

My wife, Lindsay, met us after her work shift and brought some of her co-workers with her. After a Grey Goose vodka and tea ($4) and a stacked Reuben sandwich, she and her friends got into the spirit of things. The crowd was in that strange gray area somewhere in their late 20s through their early 40s. Mature yet vibrant. Old enough to behave themselves but young enough to have a good time.

By 11 p.m. we all say our respective goodbyes and head home. O'Neill's isn't exactly down the street from our home, but I'll definitely go back. While it's only been open for less than a year, I predict that it will have a maximum capacity crowd during football season. The Bills couldn't find a better bar to toast their victories (or mourn their losses) and Buffalonians in general would do well by spending an evening at such an elegant and upbeat establishment.

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O'Neill's Stadium Inn

3864 Abbott Road, Orchard Park 646-4674

Scene: A lavish Irish pub with a steady stream of adults. Drinks: Nine beers on tap including EBC, Guinness, Double Bag and Rusty Chain. $5 Martini Mondays and $2 drafts Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m.

Dress Code: Blue jeans, long-sleeve sweater hybrids, baseball caps and vests.

Music: Karaoke Tuesdays with Okie Rich and live bands every month featuring the Patsy Silver Variety Show and classic bands every Saturday.

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