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New bar opens in Blue Monk space

During its quiet opening Thursday night, 727 Elmwood served craft beer in the same location Blue Monk once did.

But unlike Blue Monk, its focus is on the neighborhood, said owner Kevin M. Brinkworth. “People are going to call it 'the old Blue Monk' because it’s iconic,” he said. “But we’re trying to brand 727 Elmwood for the location.”

727 Elmwood, named after its address, serves 26 craft beers and an array of bottles. Six local breweries will have two beers on tap at all times, the “resident” taps, Brinkworth said.

Blue Monk closed in April following a dispute between operator Mike Shatzel and Brinkworth, a Blue Monk partner. Shatzel and Brinkworth had a strained relationship for years before it closed in April.

[Gallery: Smiles at Blue Monk closing party in June]

Opened in 2010 in the former Merlin’s space, Blue Monk’s Belgian-intensive craft beer offerings helped usher in a new chapter in Buffalo’s beer history. It quickly gained an audience of craft fans with a lengthy, rapidly changing tap list often featuring brews unavailable elsewhere in Western New York. In 2012 it was named No. 19 beer bar in the world by the readers of RateBeer.com.

Nick Guy, a beer lover, was curious to check out the new place Thursday when he heard it was open for business.

Unlike Blue Monk, which introduced beer from all over, most of 727’s selections are from local breweries, he said. So although it’s not as adventurous, Guy said, he is happy to see the local beer. “Buffalo has a great beer scene,” he said. “It’s great to see people appreciating it.”

It has a similar setup to Blue Monk, minus the decorations. It’s also brighter. “It felt like a Bizarre-o (World) version of Blue Monk,” Guy said, meaning a scene that was similar in many ways but still completely different.

The opening weekend menu lists hand-cut fries, ale-steamed mussels, burgers, salads and a section dedicated to mac and cheese. The menu also said to look for the official grand opening in the coming weeks.

The restaurant was busy because of its great location, Brinkworth said, noting that there was no advertising until a 727 Elmwood Facebook page was created at noon Thursday. It was all foot traffic and support from local merchants, he said. "I’m happy to serve the Elmwood neighborhood.”

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