Folks born after the mid-’80s are now part of the area’s workforce, and perhaps even more significantly, right at the age where night life is at least as important as whatever might be happening during the day. ¶ We’ve seen an increase in this demographic over the past several years, and whether they never left Buffalo, are returning to town after living elsewhere, or are being drawn here, millennials are greatly affecting our cultural present. Food, music and exercise – three important elements in the lives of all 20-somethings – are the focus of some interesting venues.
1. The newest dining magnet for young urbans is Buffalo Proper (333 Franklin St.). Downstairs, master mixologist Jon Karel and his merry band of cocktail shakers hold sway. In the upstairs dining room, chef Edward Forster’s cuisine, starting with locally sourced and house-made ingredients, feeds the need for those who want food with roots.
2. Downtown near Lafayette Square, Bourbon & Butter in the renovated Hotel @ the Lafayette (391 Washington St.), is drawing crowds with a menu of dishes that push standards and ethnic favorites to heightened states of deliciousness. Menu offerings from chefs Bruce Wieszala and Chris Daigler range from short-rib “beef on weck” to crispy pig ear salad, satisfying traditional and adventurous appetites alike. Beverage director Tony Rials’ craft cocktail collection slakes thirsts drinkers didn’t know they had.
3. Vera Pizzeria on Lexington Avenue draws a crowd that leans younger, but its cocktail focus makes it more of a bar where you can eat well than vice versa. Down the street, in the same building, is Kuni’s (226 Lexington Ave.), which has earned a reputation for the best Japanese-style sushi in town. It’s also a magnet for crowds of regulars from surrounding blocks, and doesn’t take reservations, so plan accordingly.
4. Blue Monk (727 Elmwood Ave.), where a collection of Belgian and domestic craft beers draws a crowd of beer enthusiasts, and the menu encourages them to stay for dinner. Frites, mussels and burgers are favorites, but the Sunday brunch, bolstered with a riotous Bloody Mary menu, draws a crowd too.
5. At the Essex Street Pub (530 Rhode Island St.), you can get something good to eat and drink for $10, which means some 20-somethings see it as an extension of their living rooms. It draws bicyclists who wear black, vegans and carnivores, which makes for interesting conversations around the jukebox. From vegetarian spaghetti squash “pulled pork” to house-smoked spare ribs and pastrami, the menu makes room for everybody.
Some honorable mentions: Agave, Café 59, Cantina Loco, The Lenox, The Lodge.
1. Revolution Indoor Cycling, a new fitness studio at 1109 Delaware Ave. started by three young women, doubles as a gathering place after class. That social aspect is one of the things people ages 20-32 are looking for in their exercise routines, along with variety and results.Amanda Moses and her partners – Rachel McCrone and Colleen Kirk – envisioned their studio as a place for like-minded fitness people to meet up or become the new, healthier type of happy hour.
“How do you find people in your age group or keep in touch with friends when you don’t necessarily want to spend time in a bar?” Moses said. “We have an option if you want to hang out with friends after a class.”
2. When Alexandra Leo opened BikeorBar at 904 Elmwood Ave., the goal was to be only a boutique spin studio.
When extra space became available, BikeorBar expanded physically and added unique classes including barre (the ballet bar), indoor rowing and a surfboard workout.
The most popular workouts for those under age 35 are the combination classes – ones that combine spinning and strength training and toning.
“We found our older clients prefer just spinning classes,” Leo said. “The 20- to 30-year-olds find the hybrid classes appealing. They love the idea of killing two birds with one stone and doing both cardio and strength.”
One of the best places to hear young independent bands – many of them either still in high school, or barely out of it – is not in the city proper, but out in Amherst. The Forvm, Maple Entertainment Complex has made a genuine commitment to the future of live indie music in the area.
1. A new club, Studio @ the Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.), located directly above the Waiting Room, is hipster and indie-rocker friendly, and dedicated to presenting a healthy mix of local and national touring bands and artists.
2. Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.) was home base for the music savvy among the area’s Generation Xers, and now that it has reopened, shows every indication of providing the same service to millennials. From indie to roots music punk, it’s all on tap.
3. Diversity is the key at Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.). Millennials are, in many instances, as open to hip-hop as they are to indie rock, soul, funk, jam bands and the like. DBGBs offers all of it.
4. Lift Nightclub (257 Franklin St.) is the newest dance club in town. You know the drill. EDM, all night long.
5. Town Ballroom (681 Main St.) caters to many demographics, but a healthy mix of indie rock, hip-hop, jam bands and electronic dance music appeals to millennials.