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Location makes the Archer good spot for before-the-action drinks

McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc once said “The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time; and second, doing something about it.”

Downtown Buffalo’s the Archer – with its ambitious dinner menu specializing in such wild game and aquatic fare as wild boar tenderloin, North American elk and Great Lakes walleye – is certainly no cheeseburger-and-fries operation. And located on a sleepy block of Main Street, idling in the shadow of the near-empty former One HSBC Center, it might not be the first place you connect to Kroc’s location-oriented version of success. But investigate its wider surroundings, review upcoming development and, after enjoying a drink or two within its glass-enclosed barroom, you may consider the place an eventual candidate for the type of popularity described by the late burger baron.

Occupying the former City Grill space since 2013, the bar/restaurant is a glimmer of hope on an otherwise uncertain stretch. HSBC’s departure took thousands of employees from the neighborhood nearly two years ago, and Metro Rail’s block-long train station saddles the area with one of downtown’s most ill-advised shelters. But despite the dearth of activity on its sidewalks, The Archer’s visitors can find some of the city’s most beautiful and budding attractions mere steps away. The architecture of the Ellicott Square Building. The Bisons at Coca-Cola Field; the Sabres and Bandits at First Niagara Center. HarborCenter, Canalside and the Buffalo River.

And these are only the established neighbors. Future residential projects inside the adjacent, cast iron-adorned Stanton Building, the area’s eventual inclusion in the city’s ongoing “Cars Sharing Main Street” reconstruction and redevelopment plans for Buffalo’s largest office tower could eventually solidify The Archer’s adherence to Kroc’s location-and-time requirement for success. What they’ll do with this good fortune should be helped by the locale’s barroom, which, as I learned on a Tuesday night visit, accommodates visitors en route – or in addition – to enjoying downtown’s ever-growing list of entertainment options.

In fall and winter, its exposed brick, extensive hunting-themed cocktail list (see: Antler Envy or the Grumpy Hunter) and availability of local beers like Ellicottville Brewing Company’s Ski Bum ($5) elicits warmth for those looking for shelter from the storm. In spring and summer, seasonal beers and chardonnays, sunlit high tops and its Main Street-fronting outdoor patio offer an underutilized spot for happy hour drinks or pitchers of Pabst before and after Bisons games. Regardless of the season, the setting offers a potentially great lounging option or tap-filled transition to your next nightspot.

I settled at The Archer’s bar with a Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porter ($4). Within a few minutes, I was surrounded by a smattering of hockey fans dressed in three versions of Sabres jerseys. Each filed into spots at the bar or high tops next to the barroom’s wall-sized windows, and some stopped in for the bar’s game-day specials: 10 wings and two drafts for $12; or $5 pitchers of Pabst. Some flats, bats and beers, then a short walk or Metro Rail ride to First Niagara Center.

It’s a sweet little deal, but the barroom’s promise isn’t anchored to its appetizers or PBR pitchers. Its location and comfort offers more, and as nearby development and destinations outside its windows flourish, more customers should find its door amid a thoroughfare in flux. Downtown residents will move into nearby buildings. Foot traffic will increase outside of Canalside, and cars, trains and bikes will share Main.

Until then, The Archer’s delivering drinks in the right place, waiting to herald its city block’s time to shine.

The Archer

Where: 268 Main St. (768-4661, thearcherbuffalo.com)

Hours: Lunch served noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Dinner, 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sundays and Mondays except for major concerts and most Sabres games are scheduled.

When to go: After work for a few happy hour drinks; before or after Bisons, Sabres or Bandits action for their game-day specials; and as part of a visit to new and nearby downtown developments.

On Tap: Angry Orchard Cider, Big Ditch Low Bridge, EBC Ski Bum, Guinness, Leinenkugel Snowdrift Vanilla Porter, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Smithwick’s.

Price range: Beers, $2 to $5; craft cocktails, $8 to $10; wine, $8 to $14; appetizers and pub fare, $7 to $12.

How to pay: Cash or card.

Parking: Paid lots and garages surround the location; street spots are available on Swan and Seneca; and Metro Rail stops at the front door.

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