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Sports fans watch, play at The Press Box

Roadside taverns routinely experience changes in name, décor and clientele. But if the locale’s central focus remains the same, the impact of the changes can be minimal. Take Lackawanna’s Press Box.

The longtime Abbott Road address was the dank neighborhood mainstay Woody’s before transitioning into its comparatively pristine iteration three years ago. The barroom was completely gutted, affixed with new copper ceilings and blackboard walls. Space was expanded to accommodate diners and rear patio patrons, and its interior was outfitted with the wall-to-wall television coverage and tap variety expected in any modern bar.

But one thing that didn’t change between the locale’s aesthetic transformation is that it remained a bar for sports fans—both those settling in for televised games or those winding down from their own amateur matchups.

“In the winter, people are usually in here watching the games,” said owner Justin Barends, a Lackawanna native and former bartender inside downtown Buffalo’s Bada Bing. “But in the summer, they’re outside playing, then coming in to drink, eat and relax after the action.”

Bartender Santos Torres pours a Blue Moon. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Fans that have hunkered down inside the Press Box throughout colder months have enjoyed televised Bills and Sabres action with the bar’s playbook-style menu, complete with the requisite servings of wings (50 cents during games) and stuffed banana peppers, and highlighted with wild-card specials such as the Polish Sampler ($9.99), with smoked Polish sausage links joining sauerkraut and three distinct pierogi.

But with the local football and hockey pros sidelined throughout the summer, the bar caters to the neighborhood’s bar league softball or volleyball heroes — or those throwing turkeys at the adjacent Abbott Lanes — for its connection to sports action.

Barends said teams will frequent the Press Box all season, there to enjoy its choice of 16 drafts (up from eight after doubling selection three months ago) or nightly Happy Hour (3 to 6 p.m.) specials that feature $5 appetizers and $2.50 well drinks.

Press Box is a tavern and restaurant at 1841 Abbott Road in Lackawanna. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

And until this June, the locale used to spend the month hosting its own summer volleyball matches on its rear sand court. That's not happening this year. New renovation ideas have enveloped the former netted expanse and are pushing The Press Box toward its next transition — which will see the locale, décor and menu change yet again.

Barends said details are tightly under wraps, and work will continue intermittently throughout the summer months to transform the bar and its cherished slice of L.A. into something a little different.

But one thing that won’t change: the locale’s service to the region’s sports-obsessed populace. No matter Woody’s, The Press Box or something wildly different, the games will be on. Bar stools will be open for dusty shortstops from nearby Josie Street and, no matter the season, its sure to be a place for friends and fans to find in-game and postgame splendor over a few cold ones.

The Press Box

Address: 1841 Abbott Road, Lackawanna (823-3268; on Facebook)

Hours: Monday to Thursday, 3 p.m. to 4 a.m.; Friday to Sunday, noon to 4 a.m.

Scene: Beers and pub favorites after summer sports action around or in Lackawanna.

Parking: Side parking lot.

Credit/Debit/ATM: Yes

Beers on tap: 16

Drink specials: Every night, with highlights including Mexican Mondays with $3 Dos Equis and 100-ounce  margarita tubes for $22; on Saturday nights, $3 Captain Morgan drinks.

And if you hate sports: Stop by and enjoy the bar’s current Lackawanna ambiance — before it changes yet again.

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