With brick walls, tall ceilings, exposed air ducts and salvaged architectural relics, Buffalo’s newest music club exudes industrial strength in the Cobblestone District, just a few blocks from Canalside.
Buffalo Iron Works, a two-story building at 49 Illinois St. – adjacent to First Niagara Center and backed up against the Helium Comedy Club on Perry Street – has been open less than a month but is already booking local and touring acts five nights a week. Locally made brews are offered, along with an assortment of smoked and roasted meats, sandwiches and wraps ranging from $6 to $10.
“It’s absolutely awesome – the decor, the atmosphere, the people,” said Melissa Richardson, of Cheektowaga, there on a recent Saturday night to watch the Ragbirds, an Ann Arbor, Mich., touring band with some local members. She sat at the bar, where one of the room’s four screens showed the band.
“It’s a beautiful and pretty unique venue,” said Lauren Leadbetter, who added she appreciated the large selection of local beers.
The building and the club are owned by developers Roger Trettel and Samuel Savarino, anesthesiologist Edward Plata and real estate agent Daniel Mania.
Savarino is Helium’s landlord and co-owner with Plata and Mania of nearby Lagerhaus 95 at 95 Perry St., which provides Iron Works’ food and beverages. That building is also where Savarino Companies is housed.
“With everything else going on, such as Canalside all the way down through the Ohio Street corridor, we think Iron Works is a nice piece of the mosaic. There is a good critical mass developing there,” Savarino said.
He added that he thought there could be an opportunity for more entertainment venues in the district.
Savarino said the 1915 building, which was initially bought by Trettel, cost $400,000. The owners sunk $600,000 to $700,000 in construction costs. They also followed National Park Service and state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation standards in the historic renovation, with the hope it would be eligible for historic tax credits. They have applied for the building’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I think our taking that step augured well for a chance to use historic tax credits for that building, and other buildings on the block possibly in the future,” Savarino said.
The club’s capacity is 400, with approval expected soon for limited mezzanine seating of about 50. The club is open for music every night except Sundays and Mondays, when it’s open for a lunch trade. There is music those nights, too, if First Niagara Center has a concert.
“The club has great potential to be a home for local original music and for touring bands,” said Seamus Gallivan, one of three independent promoters currently booking the club, as he stood near a wall adorned with photographs taken by the late Buffalo photographer Milton Rogovin. “It has a great opportunity to meet multiple demographics,” Gallivan added.
Jeremy Hoyle, the singer for Strictly Hip, a local band that has played there in the opening weeks and does so again Friday, said Iron Works “is a nice club and it’s a nice stage, one of the bigger ones downtown.”
Hoyle said he thinks there’s “tons of potential” in the Cobblestone District, but isn’t sure if Iron Works could be the start of more to come.
“The musician side of me says sure, but the side of me that works in the music business in Buffalo says I’m not so sure,” said Hoyle, who does show promotion for the Tralf Music Hall.
“I think the area is really cool. I tour a lot with my band and have been to areas that people talk about, like Baltimore and Cincinnati, and you can see how that can really turn a city around. It’s such a positive thing to have for an area that’s been sitting idle so long.”