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City’s shutdown of dance floor at Allen St. Hardware raises a ruckus

It’s been called the best dance spot in Buffalo.

The anti-Chippewa for youngish people looking for a bit more sophisticated dance scene. A place you can arrive at midnight because it’s usually open until 4 a.m.

Also, a place Allentown neighbors say is a major neighborhood nuisance.

But no more.

The Allen St. Hardware Cafe, at Allen and College streets, is still open to sell food and drinks, but the back-room dance floor has been shut down.

Police and fire inspectors who stopped by the business last weekend say the dance room was overcrowded, unsafe, too loud and unlicensed. They ordered it shut it down, city officials said. “If there was ever a fire, it would be hard for people to get out,” said James Comerford, the city’s permit and inspections commissioner.

Owner Charles N. Goldman met with a group of city officials Tuesday, was given a list of violations, and told what must be done in order for the dance floor to reopen.

“I’m going to make some adjustments to the business,” Goldman said afterwards.

A pending dance license application submitted to the city, and set to be voted on Tuesday by the Common Council, is expected to be turned down. Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk on Thursday said Goldman can reapply for a dance permit once the improvements are made – although Franczyk isn’t making any promises on whether it will be approved. Goldman said he hasn’t decided if he will apply or not but will decide once all the required improvements to his business are complete.

The closed dance floor has many cafe dance fans upset, and taking to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to express their unhappiness. “This is ridiculous. Hardware is my favorite spot,” tweeted one cafe regular.

“This is the saddest day,” tweeted another. “This is the only place I can go and have fun.”

But many College Street residents, who say their properties and quality of life have been affected by the business, are pleased with the dance ban.

Franczyk said he has heard from several residents, thanking the city for cracking down.

Residents have been complaining to city officials that patrons leave Hardware Cafe drunk, loud and rowdy, often using residential properties as outdoor toilets.

In addition, the music from the cafe is unusually loud, and continues well into the morning hours, residents have said.

Goldman said he will be spending about $30,000 bringing the building up to code, soundproofing some of the rooms, connecting fire doors to a central alarm system, reconfiguring rooms and whatever else the city says he needs to do.

Goldman said the back room of his cafe didn’t start out as a dance floor, which is why he didn’t initially apply for a dance permit. But as he saw it becoming one, he applied for a dance permit in the fall.

“I never considered it a dance club,” Goldman said. “About four months ago, we realized we should get a dance permit.”

The cafe was voted “Best Place to Dance” by Artvoice in 2014.

Some regulars say the music and crowd are generally a bit older and more sophisticated than at other Chippewa venues, which is what makes it more attractive to them.

Goldman said that while there’s currently no dancing, “The rest of the business is alive and kicking. I’ve only lost 700 square feet.”