Three Guys Walk Into a Bar: Gray's Place
by Donny Kutzbach
Gray’s Place3682 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo
review by Donny Kutzbach
who walked in with…
Chris Galas (Buffalo Zoo maintenance worker, Buffalo)
Andrew Gugler (Architect, Buffalo)
In so many cases in life, what you are looking for is right there. It’s so unassuming and unlikely that you’d never expect it.
This is the lesson learned with Gray’s Place in Tonawanda. Sitting there - in the parlance of our times – as part of what is often referred to as a strip mall is a watering hole where the discerning drinker can find some peace.
We walk into Gray’s Place and are welcomed by handsomely shag-carpeted walls – yes, shag carpeted walls – in a steely color accented with cream and maroon stripe.
I’m not exactly sure what it is, but there is something truly magical about these carpeted walls and at Gray’s Place. And the 1970s-looking relic fiber walls were oddly immaculate.
“Look over there,” says Three Guys regular Chris Galas as he points to a part of the shagged wall near where food prep happens. “The carpet still looks like brand new.“
So Gray’s Place is certainly clean and yes it’s in a plaza along one of Western New York’s busiest streets but this is not some sanitized, characterless sports bar.
No, it’s more like a homespun sports bar from some strange, lovely lager-soaked dream.
On a laid back Monday night the small handful of regulars split their eyes between three TVs showing pro wrestling, baseball and an unlikely favorite: the Weather Channel.
There’s no framed jerseys or autographed memorabilia hanging on the walls but instead Gray’s Place boasts a folksy mural behind the bar where Bills, Sabres and Bisons logos were done by hand. Like a leveled local sports playing field, a Lancaster Speedway image sits alongside Buffalo’s big three with almost equal footing and homage.
A not-quite vintage Golden Tee ‘95 golf video game sits in one corner near just back a bit from a row of comfy-looking high tables and big backed stools.
The barkeep Maryann proves very friendly as we settle into our seats and doesn’t wince at all when we start talking about getting some food.
First, however, we must get some drinks and it’s all simple choices at Gray’s Place with mostly just the basics here. The usual run of domestic and Canadian beers, two on tap with a fair selection of call and premium liquors beyond the well stuff.
This is getting late on Monday, so it’s definitely a beer night. With that decision out of the way, it’s back to the food.
If you are like Paul Newman’s Luke Jackson, maybe you’ve got a stomach for 50 hard-boiled eggs. Just drop twelve and a half bucks on Gray’s bar and enjoy. Yes indeed: $0.25 hard-boiled eggs.
Galas, Gugler and I pony up the princely sum of $0.75 cracked the shells, pour the salt on top and get our egg on. Unlike Cool Hand, we stop at one a piece. There’s other food to be had.
My grandfather is a lean, mean and spry 84-year-old gent from good German stock. I’ve always suspected that his secret might be his diet. Two staples in it are a red and white-labeled health tonic created by Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch as well and his love of Germany’s heinously smelling entry into the world of soft cheeses: Limburger!
I dare Galas and Gugler to split a limburger and onions sandwich. To my shock, they both happily agree and the order is in.
“This brick doesn’t smell bad,” Maryann said, perhaps just to comfort herself as she prepares the thick slab of limburger to go with freshly chopped onion on slices of rye. She serves up the sandwich on separate plates for each complete with chips and all for $4.00. It’s four bucks well spent, not even because Galas downs his with utter glee in barely a minute.
“I just realized Liverwurst is not Limburger,” Gugler declares, thinking he was getting a different German deli delight.
Though he was a little shocked to get a completely different smelly kind of sandwich he finished every bite without breaking a sweat. Gugler is a true professional.
Beyond the Golden Tee and The Weather Channel, Gray’s also has entertainment in the form of an internet jukebox. There’s lots of fun and annoying things you can do with the power of having hundreds of thousands of songs amplified into a bar for a buck... but, remember: it’s a Monday night. No shenanigans tonight.
I look around to gauge the small crowd and decide that supergroup Asia’s 1982 prog-pop smash “Heat Of The Moment” .
I notice some of the regulars singing along and it all comes together and the stink of limburger reeks from my two compatriots. We’ve made the right choice at Gray’s Place and it’s
So if - as John Wetton sings - “the disco hotspots hold no charm for you”, shag carpeted walls turn you on and you are ready for a cold drink with a hard-boiled egg, it is time for you to head over to Gray’s Place.blog comments powered by Disqus
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