I can’t think of a better metaphor for Buffalo’s resurgence than the latest developments on Chandler Street. Located near the Black Rock neighborhood this literal dead-end street was an industrial site for years. Now, the renovation of two warehouses turned this once industrial strip into the beginnings of a brand-new neighborhood for the next generation of Buffalo’s business owners and hotspot seekers.
It’s hard to call a place that’s gotten so much ink lately a hidden gem, but that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s a sanctuary tucked inside a concrete jungle. The two buildings on the receiving end of a recent facelift house a salon, a gym, and tech firms, but the main attraction is a joint venture by popular local establishments Tappo Restaurant and Thin Man Brewery. And right across the street is the Buffalo Cider Hall.
The space that houses the Tappo/Thin Man mashup has all the industrial features you’d expect from garage doors to exposed HVAC, but the vibe is anything but standard. The walls are covered with bright murals that are supremely ‘grammable, and the sound system provides low-key background music from the likes of Junior M.A.F.I.A. and Wu-Tang Clan. Dart boards, skee-ball and foosball tables round out the makings of a relaxed weekend hangout. It’s meant to cater to a younger crowd, but it’s an all-ages sort of place frequented by residents of the surrounding neighborhood. And if you grew up in the 90s you’ll be right at home.
Thin Man brews on site and the bartenders pull suds from nine different tap handles. The list includes IPAs, brown ales, ciders, and their signature fan favorite Pills Mafia. Tappo compliments the beer selection perfectly with their wood-fired pizzas. Like any respectable Buffalo bar you can get wings, but the pretzel bites are a must-order.
Across the street is BlackBird Cider Works’ Buffalo Cider Hall where you can sample from their list of 12 ciders. Make sure you try their Chandler Street Cherry. Beer drinkers need not worry, there’s a selection from local breweries to keep you lubricated. BlackBird takes the whole “urban oasis” thing literally with a patio that looks out onto a thick green lawn, adorned with public art by local muralist Chuck Tingley, that’s set to host bocce ball leagues and impromptu picnics, probably.
The most exciting part is that this is all just the tip of the iceberg. The coming months and year will see the opening of a second brewery, Barrel + Brine’s sandwich shop, a new co-op restaurant project from some of Buffalo’s most talented chefs, and Chandler Street Pool Club. You heard right. They’re putting in a dang pool club, y’all! Season and day passes will be available and the line starts behind me. Apartments are scheduled to go in along with business incubators for 30 different food vendors.
So not only will it be a hotspot for local food and drinks, it’s got the makings of its own self-contained district. As you look out onto the street from Thin Man’s patio you can practically see crowds of people drawn to this gem by a festival or concert; bopping from cider hall to pool club to brewery. You can feel the pent-up energy as you walk the street. Buffalo is about to take another big step forward, and it’s next hip neighborhood may be here sooner than you think.