By now, locals are familiar with what constitutes “New Buffalo,” the straightforward moniker slapped on anything progressive amid the region's ongoing transformation.
From Canalside to craft cocktails to culinary adventures inside cafés and food halls, the changes are impressive, and continue to advance the local landscape toward potential that’s been waiting to be tapped for decades.
But let’s be clear: Old Buffalo—a place where the beef is hot, beers are cold and the Canadian whiskey flows through every Geddy Lee lyric—is still very alive and kicking throughout the city and neighboring entities.
One example: Squire’s Tap Room, which teams old-school comfort with home-away-from-home hospitality that's exemplified the best of local watering holes for generations.
Founded in 1995 by Rick and Lisa Neuhaus and tucked away on a shallow cul-de-sac off Niagara Street in Tonawanda, the locale was named after Rick’s grandfather, Harold “Squire” Gordon.
A World War I veteran, saxophone player in the Tonawanda Legion Band and lifelong resident of the neighborhood, Squire, according to the bar's website, was a character always up for a good time. The tavern that now bears his name is emblematic of that, and continues to operate as the type of no-frills, everybody-knows-your-name clubhouse that’s still prevalent across local suburban stretches.
Patrons are greeted with the locale’s open dining room and designated bar space, both settled under a rec-room drop ceiling, and lined with expected Buffalo décor. Pencil drawings of Memorial Auditorium—as well as the since renamed Rich Stadium and Pilot Field—encircle the dining room. Police and fire badges from points as close as North Tonawanda and distant as Los Angeles hang prominently throughout.
For guests looking for the type of hearty dinners or fish fry dates that regularly dot traditional fall and winter calendars, Squire’s has you covered, with its Wednesday Spaghetti Night, Friday seafood spreads (such as the shrimp, clams and scallops of its Fisherman’s Platter, $12.50), and regular array of in-house specialties like its bone-in center-cut pork chops ($9.95).
But at the bar, Squire’s provides the type of simplistic ambiance pervasive throughout local barrooms of a certain age.
Instead of an Internet juke or Spotify playlist, the bar’s soundtrack is its multigenerational patrons’ conversation and laughter, casually exchanged under the echo of Rick Jeanneret’s Sabres call. Depending on the night, guests can enjoy specials on domestic drafts, well drinks or bottles of Genny ($2.50 on Thursdays). Or, if you can’t stash your craft beer tooth for a trip to the Twin Cities, local craft options like Ellicottville Brewing Company and Southern Tier are available on draft.
Take your pick, relax and note: Put in enough time drinking aside the bar’s impressive collection of Major League Baseball shot glasses or the Michelob Dry bar lamp dangling over its cash register, and in time, you won’t even have to order. As was once a required qualification of any skilled bartender, Squire’s staff will have your Molson Canadian waiting for you on a coaster before you can settle into a stool.
Is this New Buffalo? No—and that’s OK. Old Buffalo is the foundation on which this region still resides, and in places like Squire’s, it’s still going strong.
Address: 127 Niagara St., Tonawanda
Hours: Bar is open 11 a.m. to close Monday to Friday and noon to close Saturday. Kitchen is Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Both are closed on Sunday (expect for private parties).
Scene: Classic townie bar with all the timeless accompaniments prevalent inside Tonawanda’s vast array of old-school enclaves.
Suds and Skittles: Patrons can grab bite-size candy from behind the bar, three for $1.
Parking: On street and spots on dead-end cul-de-sac.
Don’t forget to: Explore the impressive international geography of police and fire badges mounted around the bar and dining room.
*Read more bar features by clicking on the Story Topic, below.