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Restaurant Notes: Reopened historic tavern in Eden specializes in barbecue

A historic tavern in Eden reopened Monday after extensive renovations, with a new specialty in barbecued pork, beef and chicken smoked low and slow.

The East Eden Tavern & Smokehouse, 8163 E. Eden Road, Eden, opened Monday. Brian Mathews, owner, brought the pre-Civil-War building back to life.

“I think we tracked it back to 1857, or so,” Mathews said of the building’s history. “Believe it or not, even the town doesn’t have information going back that far.”

It was originally the Mumbach Hotel. “The story goes that people used to come down on the train from Buffalo, and take a horse and buggy for an evening of dancing and drinking at the hotel,” Mathews said. “If you were lucky, you got a room at the hotel.” The building’s third story holds a disused bowling alley, once lit by gas lamp.

But its future is in barbecue, not bowling, he decided. “We’ve got a smoker and we’re going to be doing it in-house, low and slow,” he said. “We’re going to do American-style barbecue, beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken.” There will also be steaks, fish fries and a menu tilted toward country-style comfort food, he said. “I really wanted to base this on the food. We’re a restaurant with a tavern.”

The restaurant, whose phone number is 575-4286, plans on opening for lunch and dinner seven days a week. It’s Mathews’ first place of his own, he said, but he previously managed Sunset Bay and Calico Jack’s.

During renovations, people frequently stopped to thank him for putting the building back in service, he said, and that inspired him, Mathews said. “I really want to give this community their center back.”

Hamburg bakery opens: Audrey Zybala, the woman behind the new Sweet Pea Bakery in Hamburg, is thrilled with the new career she’s cooked up.

“It was calling me,” Zybala said on Friday night, after wrapping up a busy opening week capped by a Saturday grand opening.

Until June, Zybala was a teacher. But with the support of her husband and two sons – ages 8 and 5 – she has made a career switch that brings her to Staub Square on Buffalo Street in the Village of Hamburg.

“It’s been very comfortable,” Zybala said of the welcome she’s gotten during her first week of business.

A few days after she opened, she even had a couple of her regulars – yes, she already has regulars – show up with a table for her to put in her sitting area.

“We thought you could use it,” they said.

The basics: Through the end of the year, Sweet Pea Bakery is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Zybala plans to add extended hours closer to the holidays. Then, after Jan. 1, the bakery will be closed on Sundays.

What to expect: Baked goods (of course), with both flaky and heavy options; coffee roasted by Lackawanna’s Premium Coffee; and egg sandwiches. Everything is homemade. After the first of the year, Zybala is thinking about adding light sandwiches for lunch.

What to try: The customers have spoken, and the carmelita ($3) is the Sweet Pea specialty. Zybala describes it as gooey, awesome “heaven on a plate.” - Brian Connolly

Ted’s opens downtown: Ted’s Hot Dogs long-awaited downtown store opened Monday.

With the opening of the store at 124 W. Chippewa St., the grilled wiener chain returned to the city where it was born for the first time since 1998.

“After 17 years away, our return to the city is well overdue,” Peter Liaros, co-owner of Ted’s, whose father, Ted Liaros, started the business in 1927, said in a press release. “The history of Ted’s is rooted in Buffalo, and we are extremely excited to once again offer our customers in the city the food they’ve known and loved for nearly 100 years.”

Besides digital technology to help speed the ordering process, the downtown store introduced a new menu item: sweet potato fries.

Polish truck update: Polish Villa II, the top-notch Polish family restaurant at 1085 Harlem Road, Cheektowaga, planned to launch its new food truck Tuesday. On the menu: pierogi, bigos, borscht, housemade fresh and smoked sausage, plus zapiekanka, a Polish cousin of the French bread pizza.

Also Monday, owners of Betty Crockski, the popular pioneering Polish truck, posted on social media that they’d made their last pierogi. Kate Hey and Dana Szczepaniak had been looking for a buyer, but Betty Crockski’s future is unclear.

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