Black Rock: a hidden gem of foods and success

Elmwood, Allen and Hertel are all streets that are fairly popular and common to think of when you come to Buffalo. But perhaps one of the more underrated areas in Buffalo, and a close neighbor to Buffalo State, is the Black Rock neighborhood on Amherst Street. The historic street is home to a thriving community of devoted businesses and ethnic groups that are proud to be a part of Buffalo’s history.

The Amherst strip contains an assortment of storefronts, restaurants, taverns and bars. One of the more popular bars is Black Rock Kitchen and Bar (BRKB), at 491 Amherst St., which is family-owned and operated by Mark and Charlie Goldman. It has a wide selection of red and white wines, pale ales, lagers and more. The menu is just as diverse, with dishes ranging from fried chicken to fillet mignon.

Located in the heart of Black Rock, BRKB will be open three years this summer, and it is not the first business endeavor for the father and son duo — they also own the Allen Street Hardware Café, at 245 Allen St. Lined with brown wooden tables and chairs, with candles lit in each centerpiece, the Amherst Street location has much of the same ambience.

A grinning Mark Goldman sat at the bar on a Friday afternoon, getting ready to open for the dinner rush. He pointed out the uniquely crafted tin roof textures carved into the ceiling. One of the most prominent aspects about the building is that like its sister bar, Hardware, BRKB’s predecessor was in fact a hardware store.

“I just really like hardware stores, I guess,” Goldman joked. “Got any hardware stores you know about?”

Goldman is proud to be a part of the revitalization of this historic neighborhood and the culture that comes with it. The city of Black Rock is heavy with Polish heritage, and with Dyngus Day right around the corner, Goldman has plans to celebrate at the bar come the Sunday after Easter. He wants as many people as possible to partake in the celebrations, thus creating greater success for his bar and for the area.

“We do whatever we can to build a sense of community,” Goldman said. “But we do need more critical mass.”

Goldman is happy with the location and hopes the growth and enlivening of the area keeps increasing over time.

“It’s going well and we welcome people from all over,” Goldman said. “We look to improve our connections with Buffalo State. And I think it will happen because the president over there has always been very kind to the neighborhood.”

The BRKB has made a mark in the neighborhood, but step out onto the pavement and make a left, away from the world of brews and white wines and head toward the sweet world of Delish, at 414 Amherst St.

Upon entering a red roomed building, you’ll be greeted by a mouthwatering smell and find display cases filled with fresh fudge, biscotti, decorated cakes, glazed scones, dipped chocolate, and an endless list of pastries and candies.

Delish, owned and operated by Deborah Clark, didn’t start off on Amherst Street.

“I’ve been open for 10 years,” Clark said as she ran from side to side of the room catering to customers. “Seven on Elmwood, and two and half here. It’s been going great — we really like it here.”

One of the veteran businesses of Amherst Street is 464 Gallery, at 464 Amherst St., owned by Marcus Wise. Wise’s gallery features original art by established artists, as well as young and aspiring artists in the Buffalo area.

Studio manager Christina Laing suggested Delish for a cup of coffee, and she isn’t alone in that sentiment. According to Clark, Buffalo Spree magazine voted Delish as having the best coffee in Buffalo.

Indeed, Delish has helped shape the area, coming from a successful place like Elmwood. But being located on Amherst has also benefitted Clark as well.

She likes that the area is centrally located, and thinks the foot traffic created by Wegmans next door helps grow the businesses on the street. She plans to help that growth any way she can.

“We hope that it keeps growing,” Clark said. “And we hope that more businesses come into the area. We just want to keep promoting it as much as possible.”

Laing said it’s great to be working in an upcoming area like Amherst Street because there are constantly new businesses opening and vacant homes bought, and community members have everything they need in one place.

“It’s perfectly centrally located,” she said. “We have everything we need. There’s Wegmans and Tops for food, Delish right down the street, the Black Rock Kitchen and Bar for dinner and drinks, as well as Rohall’s Corner. And we’re minutes from Elmwood and Grant. It’s just the perfect location.”

Laing believes the reputation of Amherst Street is quickly growing, and thanks local business owners like Mark Goldman for all they have done for the neighborhood.

“So many successful businesses have gone up in these past five years, especially the BRKB,” Laing said. “They’re packed for dinner on the weekends and it’s almost impossible to get a table for brunch on Sundays.”

The historic village is also home to so many other prosperous businesses and taverns that to name them all would take some time. But there’s something for everyone to do. For instance, enjoy a drink and fish fry at Casey’s, or stop out for a pint at Rohall’s Corner or Sportsmen’s Tavern. Then there’s Nick’s Place that has been around for a while as well, serving its area favorite omelets and home fries to the community.

For fun that isn’t food-related, one of the newer additions to the area is DefenceLab Buffalo, which teaches martial arts and self-defense skills to young children and adults. Upstate Ink is at 408 Amherst St. for your tattoo needs. There are also flower shops, meat shops and more. And if there is one thing all of the business owners can agree on, it’s that Amherst Street is a place that is only going to grow with time.

Email: [email protected]