Opening a bar is a decision that, regardless of vocational training, management acumen or basic rationality, people routinely discuss as a viable business opportunity.
Is this because it’s an easy gig? No. It’s because the idealistic expectation of the bar, tavern or pub is the monetization of hangout space, crafted for customers who will patronize a place as their personal clubhouse.
It doesn’t always work out like this. But once inside the calm and classic confines of the Northtowns-bordering Neighbors Pub, one might assume it can.
Set at the corner of Kenmore and Wendel avenues—where Tonawanda, Kenmore and North Buffalo all blur on the map as one—the 25-year-old Neighbors stands as emblematic of its name, serving nearby denizens down for a hearty meal, cheap drinks or even a few rounds of darts.
But whether in for any or all of the aforementioned, the place thrives on providing its product inside a place where comfort comes first, and the traditional expectations of the corner pub are still satisfied.
Its wood-paneled barroom and worn floor planks lead visitors into its quaint rear dining area, where sandwich-heavy lunches and seafood dinners (try the scallops, $15.95) are doled out for patrons with working-class appetites.
Nightly specials like Neighbors’ meatloaf dinner ($11) and beef stew can be enjoyed under Buffalo-centric decoration or aside its dining room fireplace, with both options adding to its allure in winter months.
But for those interested in sampling these menu items and specials solo—or even on a casual date—spots in the barroom might provide a better feel for what makes Neighbors a pleasingly laid-back place.
Whether at bar stools or high tops, visitors can relax in a setting conducive for conversation, with only the crackling static of the bar’s stereo (tuned to 104.1 FM) interrupting stories between friends, couples and the night’s bartender. Four televisions are routinely tuned to hockey and football, available to complement any visit’s relaxed banter and impressively inexpensive rounds.
Along with Neighbors’ overall ambiance, its drink prices—presumably set in 1993, and still holding firm—are its most appreciated lure. Yes, there are the expected pints of Labatt Blue and Bud Light for $2.50, but between games of Quick Draw, its staff also serves names like Stella Artois and Big Ditch Hayburner for $3.50.
Deliciously smooth pints of Guinness also are $3.50, a number unmatched in even the most blue-collar Irish slings in South Buffalo. On Fridays, pints of Fat Tire Ale go for the same rate, another rare feat for the region.
Team these deals with Neighbors’ after-10 p.m. late-night menu—featuring such items as single orders of wings ($8.50), pizza logs ($6.50) and fried ravioli (12 for $7.50)—and a long night out doesn’t have to empty your pockets.
It’s almost as if Neighbors exists not as a revenue-dependent business, but as that idealized and personalized meeting place for families, friends or strangers looking for casual jabber over a few beers. It’s that neighborhood clubhouse which college pals consider partnering, but rarely operate properly.
And every night, it can surprise just by being the type of relaxed and reasonably priced location the best of these throwback oases aim to be.
Address: 337 Kenmore Ave. (836-7020)
Hours: Opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. Kitchen is open to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Late-night menu is available after the kitchen closes. Closed on Sundays.
Scene: Laid-back locale at the corner of Buffalo, Kenmore and Tonawanda, with ambiance, friendliness and drink prices pulled from another era.
Drink specials: Fat Tire Fridays, with pints of the Colorado-born brew for $3.50.
Late-night bites: The bar’s 10 p.m.-to-close menu features nicely priced orders of wings, pizza logs and fried ravioli.
Parking: Side lot.
Credit/Debit: Yes, with ATM on site.
Don’t forget to: Tip your bartender—generously. The money you save on Neighbors’ incredibly cheap drinks should go somewhere.