On the outside, the Thirty Three Speakeasy Grill on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga is nothing special. In fact, you might race right by it without realizing. (If you hit Union, you have gone too far.)
Step inside, however, and you will find a snazzy, shockingly large bar and restaurant, one a bit different from eateries (and drinkeries, a word I believe I just coined) nearby. It is an establishment that seemed, at this visit at least, to skew older, and that is a good thing.
Yes, there are TVs and beer. But it is a solid alternative to the sports bar, an option with lots of specials, a limited beer list, but a friendly, adult aesthetic that could succeed in drawing a range of ages.
And there’s that name, which is semi-brilliant. The “speakeasy” concept only manifests itself with some retro pictures on the wall, but it is located a few golf shots from the 33. And yes, I call it “the 33.”
My wife and I stopped by recently before heading to a Sabres game, and were befuddled by the size. Quite honestly, a floor hockey game could be played around the handsome, three-sided bar. Even when it is busy, the Thirty Three Speakeasy should offer plenty of standing space. There is a restaurant section away from the bar, as well.
We ordered some appetizers from the, ahem, “Hottsie Tottsie Apps” section of the menu, and admired the sheer size of the place. According to the bar’s Facebook page, it is occasionally home to live music; its size is certainly conducive to that.
Our server told us that the owners knocked down a few walls when working on the site. The result is an open feeling that we quite liked.
The beer … is an issue. Or at least it will be for some. Quite honestly, if an ambitious beer selection is what you seek, you are better off at Crabapple’s down the road, because you will not find it here.
But that is not the end of the world for many bar patrons. I was happy to see that Flying Bison’s Rusty Chain was one of the few drafts available – there were only a handful – and the bottled list did include Ithaca’s Flower Power. A printed list of the bottled and draft selections would be helpful, even if it is short. I actually thought the beer was on tap, until it arrived.
Just as I was downing my Flower Power, an older gent at the bar ordered a second Manhattan, so clearly, the beer issue is more of an FYI.
The beer specials at the bar are plentiful. Mondays offer $2 bottles of Molson and $5 pitchers of Rolling Rock; Tuesdays see $2 bottles of Labatt Blue and Blue Light, along with $6 Blue Light pitchers.
On Wednesday, “Ladies” – cue the Beastie Boys’ “Hey Ladies” – can enjoy $2 bottled beer, wine or mixed well drinks. Specials on Thursday include $2 Coors Light and Bud Light bottles.
Two-for-one drinks from 3 to 8 p.m. highlight Fridays, and on Saturdays, buckets of five beers are $10.
This list also has food options, including half-price appetizers after 9 p.m. on Wednesday, $6 burgers on Thursday, and buy-one-get-one-free orders of wings on Saturday.
As we ate and drank, I noticed that we were the youngest patrons in the bar. That certainly would not always be the case, but it’s not a bad thing for a bar to draw an older crowd. It may separate the 33 Speakeasy from other bar-restaurants in its vicinity.
If they really want to shake things up, they could push the speakeasy concept harder, and start bringing in bootlegged liquor over the border. That is probably unwise, so instead, let’s just accept the name, and enjoy the space.
The 33 Speakeasy Grill
Where: 3455 Genesee St., Cheektowaga (634-2233)
Scene: A large, handsome bar that skews a bit older than area sports bars, etc.
Happy hour: No happy hour, but lots of beer specials from Monday through Saturday.
Music: Live music is occasionally offered; our visit was soundtracked by the top-40 likes of Pink and Rihanna.
Hours: 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Monday through Saturday.