A Rich History

During the bustling 1870s in Buffalo’s history, the neighborhood surrounding The Place was in its early stages of development. Initially a rural district, it featured orchards, farms, and a few rough roads for transportation. Constructed in the late 1870s, The Place saw its first occupant as Mr. Jacob Beier. Originally from the German neighborhood of the Fruit Belt, he eventually opened a saloon at 229 Butler Place (later being renamed to the current Lexington Avenue), becoming a convenient stopping point for businessmen and workers. Eventually transitioning to Irish ownership, Edward C. Donnelly took over the property.

The west side of Buffalo was a magnet for the upwardly mobile Irish residents, often referred to as the “lace curtain” Irish. Piller’s Cafe, a prosperous saloon business, was run by Christoph Piller in the early 1900s. Despite a raid by federal dry agents during the Prohibition era, where a significant amount of alcohol was seized, Piller’s Cafe continued until the 1930s. Bernie Flynn took over and renamed it “The Place,” painting the walls in ruby red and India turquoise. He gained popularity with his humor-filled advertisements and signature sandwiches like “Flynnie’s Thinnie.” Tom & Jerrys, a warm holiday egg meringue drink, also became a hit during that time. Tending bar for nearly 20 years, Buddy Flynn eventually succeeded Bernie and maintained the colorful walls, Currier & Ives prints, and Irish memorabilia that defined The Place.

Kenny Moriarity, Buddy Flynn’s nephew, previously ran The Place until its closure in May 2015. With extensive renovations completed from September 2015 to April 2016, Jay McCarthy, Kevin Brinkworth, and his wife Elizabeth “Betty” Brinkworth formed a partnership to maintain The Place’s tradition. They successfully restored the bar-restaurant to its original charm, preserving elements like the mahogany wood walls, tongue and groove ceiling, and plaid wallpaper while adding new touches such as the copper bar top and redecorated backroom. Today, The Place on Lexington Avenue reflects Buffalo’s nostalgic past, offering classic ambiance, old-time charm, and even a beautiful porch and open-air patio for patrons to enjoy. The Place continues to serve its beloved “Thinnie Flynnie” sandwiches and Tom & Jerry holiday eggnog punch, keeping the tradition alive.