The bar: Gypsy Bohemian Grove Bar (GBGB)
The breakdown: 617 Main Street is nestled in the heart of Buffalo’s Theatre District, but the address has doubled as a pseudo-graveyard for restaurateurs who’ve attempted to utilize the locale’s behemoth square footage for one culinary or brewed focus.
Latest tenant EXPO Market has installed a more tenable concept, instead enlisting a diverse roster of vendors to fill all corners of an urban food hall—and to satisfy food and drink customers of all predilections.
For the craft-beer set, there’s EXPO’s Gypsy Bohemian Grove Bar, or GBGB. Manning the same bartop last handled by the late Perfetto, the 24-tap operation is steered by Gabrielle Mattina, the guiding force behind Grant Street's popular Gypsy Parlor.
Thankfully, the fingerprints of that locale's cocktail and craft-beer expertise are all over GBGB, making it a must-hit happy hour spot for young professionals, theater denizens and food-hall fans alike.
The beer: 21st Amendment Down to Earth
The breakdown: The bold, flavorful taste of an India Pale Ale (IPA) is what makes the style popular, but many of their selections’ heightened alcohol content rarely makes them conducive to casual enjoyment aside a sandwich or spicy tuna roll. 21st Amendment’s session IPA is another story.
Not only refreshing and resplendent with the hop aroma typical of its genre brethren, the San Francisco selection’s manageable 4.4 percent ABV makes it a smart choice with EXPO meals, or before shows at nearby Shea’s or the Irish Classical Theatre.
Contrasting high-octane selections could turn a comfortable (and three-hour) Broadway show or theatrical interpretation of the work of W.B. Yeats into either a slugfest or unintended slumber party.
Explore the space: Before EXPO opened in February, its locale was considered by past tenants to be an obstacle. Now, it’s considered a benefit for those who would first like to grab a beer at GBGB, then roam past murals depicting the layout of the 1901 Pan-American Exposition — an event that provided inspiration for the market’s name — and the vibrant housing of nearby Buffalo neighborhoods.
Customers can team a pint with sushi at Sun Roll or a Thanksgiving turkey sandwich at Bobby Alfman’s. Or, after downing a pint of the IPA, visitors can patronize the local shops in the neighboring Market Arcade building, now connected directly with EXPO.
Diversifying the district: Identified by its on-stage fare and illuminated entry signage, Buffalo’s Theatre District has catered to Curtain Up! crowds for generations.
Distinguished visitors have rolled down Main Street to catch performances of “Les Miserables” at Shea’s or smaller productions inside 710 Main or the Smith Theatre, giving the area a vibrancy that’s existed with or without cars traversing the now renovated stretch.
But with the addition of EXPO and GBGB, couples in evening wear can now commingle inside an invigorated, creative space with hoodie-wearing rockers heading to shows at nearby Town Ballroom and the Tralf Music Hall. Conversations about playbills can join discussions of concocted playlists, and another element of the Queen City’s ongoing reinvention boasts another snapshot.
When to go: Stop by while checking out EXPO Market’s lunch and dinner options; for the bar’s already popular Happy Hour atmosphere; or to simply celebrate the reawakening of Buffalo’s Main Street spine and latest addition to its ever-evolving Theatre District.
Beers on tap: 24
May remember the locale as: Empire Brewing Co., Ya Ya Brewhouse or Perfetto.
Great place for: Satisfying a lot of disparate tastes, all while toasting Buffalo’s progress.
Be ready to: Notice the city’s current youth movement, occupying the Main Street space daily.
Surprise offering: Before serving bottles, drafts and cocktails, GBGB serves coffee, cappuccinos and espresso weekday mornings, starting at 8 a.m.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.