Gypsy Parlor owner speaks out about controversy, tells all

Gabrielle Mattina is no stranger to controversy in Buffalo. The owner of The Gypsy Parlor, Mattina has handled several controversial situations in the few months she has been open, including one I wrote about a few weeks ago.

While meeting with Mattina at The Gypsy Parlor, I had the opportunity to talk to her about the evening that I had written about, where Mattina attacked a patron in front of the bar’s crowd.

Mattina grew up right around the corner from her Grant Street bar and though her love for her neighborhood runs deep, she is very aware of the dangers lurking around the corners and blames her behavior that evening as a direct result of that.

“I love my neighborhood, but it has taught me to be fiercely defensive,” Mattina said. “I regularly serve couples dinner with one hand while smiling and kicking out crack dealers with my other hand.

“So when things get intense — when voices are raised and bodies collide — I’m used to having to get into people’s faces. It’s the only way most of them will respond to you.”

A graduate of Niagara University’s hotel and restaurant management program and longtime Buffalo bartender, Mattina is well-versed in the ways of food and bar service, but admitted that she is roughly adjusting to being the face in the spotlight.

“It’s a whole new world for me, where everyone is watching everything I do. I can’t just clock out and go into a kitchen anymore,” she said. “It’s a learning path.”

Still, she feels she did the appropriate thing on the night I witnessed her throw out band members and their “crew.” It had been a long night, and according to her, she had already kicked out several drug dealers. The last straw was seeing a man and a woman enter the men’s restroom together. “That is never a good sign on Grant Street, or in any bar. So I said ‘enough is enough with this crew that has already broken half my s—.’”

Mattina says that the band, Rotten U.K., destroyed multiple pieces of audio and video equipment, including a mixer, speaker and a projector, as well as a rug and several glasses.

James Von Sinn, lead singer for Rotten U.K., counters said although he did bleed onto the stage’s carpet, the audio and visual equipment were broken either by crowd members or were already not working by the time his band took the stage.

A member of the band Ronald Raygun commented that the speakers already sounded blown, or at least sounded “odd,” by the time they hit the stage as the second opener.

Many different points of view exist from this evening, and so many were eager to share their stories with me. Ranging from band members, bar employees, patrons and the DJ, it was a puzzle to be pieced together that will never be fully solved in my eye.

Mattina regrets not booking a soundman and doing it herself. “If I had booked a sound man like I should have, the speakers and mixers would have probably not been blown or attacked, there would have been someone responsible for them,” she said.

When asked about how it felt to be frequently examined by social media and the Buffalo community, Mattina responded that “Liberal, open-minded people have opinions. They think about things more than people who aren’t part of the underground, so the crowd our bar attracts is the same crowd that looks at situations from different angles. It’s a blessing and a curse, having these smart, hip customers who think about things from every different angle.”

Though she explained the situation in more detail to me, including the events of having previously kicked out some drug dealers earlier in the night, I still have a hard time understanding why such intense force was necessary.

However, I admire the way Mattina stood by some of her decisions and owned up to others. Not only that, but throughout our conversation she was eager to put herself in the position of a patron and how it must have looked from the other side of the bar. Her openness was surprising and fresh, especially in contrast to some of the hostility I faced as a writer from passionate people eager to tell me if my point of view was right or wrong.

She added, “A night like that where I have to kick 20 people out costs me a lot of money. I don’t look to do stuff like that. Ending the night early for 20 people who could have been here until last call hanging out, having fun, is not something I want to do.”

As our conversation wrapped up, I couldn’t help but open my mind about the woman who had 14213, her neighborhood’s zip code, tattooed across her wrist. Although she may sometimes make controversial decisions, her heart is in the right place in the neighborhood she cares about.