Once upon a time (we're talking the 1980s) the Yellow Jaguar had its place on the Buffalo party bar circuit. Those of a certain age who can rattle off names of bygone joints (Club 747, Uncle Sam's, No Names, Locker Room, Stuffed Mushroom) will undoubtedly remember it.
A quick call to Richie Alberts, owner of the legendary Mickey Rats/Captain Kidds (and our unofficial Buffalo bar historian), helped us recall its tale.
"Kevin Elliott used to own it with a couple other bars. He was a character. He used to drive around in a limo outfitted with Blue Nun taps," laughed Alberts. Others remember a real yellow Jaguar that was often parked out front.
A new version of the Yellow Jaguar has sprouted in its original location in the Super 8 Motel on Transit Road near Main Street. The emphasis appears to be on bringing back the crowd that once romped there, albeit an older, wiser one. Live music starts earlier, making it easier to envision actually going out on a weeknight without killing yourself at work the next day.
The place is spacious, with two bars, one located right near the stage/dance floor. Sleek black pub tables and chairs are scattered throughout. Dartboards, a pool table and a giant flat-screen are positioned wisely away from the main action. Other flat-screens are hung for prime viewing during pro sports games. A popcorn machine provides help-yourself snacks.
Two visits to the Yellow Jag (prior to its March 29 grand opening) produced mixed results. However, we'd heard from two reliable sources that the place was packed and rocking on nights when bands like Boys of Summer, Strictly Hip and Disco Duck performed.
Our first stop was on a Thursday, when master showman Lance Diamond and his 24K Diamond Band host the Yellow Jag's "Weekend Warm Up" party starting at 6 p.m. Unfortunately for Diamond, it was a sparse audience, but that didn't deter him from making three outfit changes. What a pro! We hope he gets the crowd he deserves, but with summer's outdoor concerts on the horizon, we are unsure.
The second stop was a Saturday night. Arriving a little after 8 p.m., the band Back to the Bars was setting up for its 9 p.m. gig. We settled in to catch the rest of a Sabres game and check out the action.
No doubt the crowd is older, but it's always fun to watch as the young impulses kick in now and then, starting with a guy trying to pick up either the blonde or brunette he walked in with. His machinations were fascinating. We kept saying, "He's with the blonde. No he's with the brunette." Back and forth all night.
By 9 p.m., the place had filled up with a decent crowd ready to party, however we don't think Back to the Bars was the entertainment they were seeking.
Billing itself on Facebook as "a quartet playing AM gold, 1-hit wunders, progressive classics and songs that make you go hmmmmm," we soon were engulfed in a trip back to the '70s -- the Michael Martin Murphey "Wildfire," Bee Gees "Nights on Broadway" and Looking Glass' "Brandy."
Unfortunately folks there to dance were somewhat at a loss, although they kept doggedly trying as a somewhat danceable song played.
Drink prices are the usual at the Jag. Well drinks start at $3. Domestic bottled beers are $3 and include the usual suspects from the Bud family (including lime), Michelob, Coors, Labatt; Guinness, Blue Moon, Corona and Heineken varieties are $4. Drafts ($4) are Sam Adams and Ellicottville Brewing Company's (EBC) Blueberry Wheat.
The Yellow Jaguar
7200 Transit Road, Amherst (www.yellowjaguarwny.com, 932-7662)
Scene: Tomcats, cougars and regular folks.
Dress: Casual to upscale.
Happy hour (Tuesday through Sunday): $2 Molson/Molson Light.
Drink specials: Tuesday Ladies Night ($2 Pinnacle Vodka drinks).
Entertainment: Country night, 7 p.m. Wednesdays; Lance Diamond, 6 p.m. Thursdays; Friday's music also starts at 6 p.m. with a happy hour buffet, DJ Pauly kicks in at 10 p.m.; live music begins at 9 p.m. Saturday. Sunday is "Industry Night" with karaoke at 8 p.m. There is a $5 cover charge Thursday through Saturday.
Hours: Opens daily at 4 p.m.