Catch a glimpse of Madonna’s - PHOTOS
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • September 27, 2012 @ 8:00am
A month ago we learned that current Cafe 59 owner Chris Connolly had plans for expansion, intending to open an Italian restaurant across the street at 62 Allen St. When the Buffalo.com team dropped into Cafe 59 today for lunch, Connolly suggested that we take a short gallop across the street to see his recent work toward preparing Madonna’s.
If you are unfamiliar with the layout of Fiddle Heads, one of the former residents of 62 Allen St., the soon-to-launch Italian restaurant boasts two rooms, one with a bar area, smaller tables and tall chairs overlooking the street, and another formal dining room with several two-person tables that can be easily pushed together for bigger parties. From our chat with Connolly, we learned a few helpful tidbits about the process of opening a new restaurant.
1) Connolly is targeting mid-to-late October for a start date, and he admitted that his target date had originally been early September. He’s currently dealing with paperwork in regard to the New York State Liquor Authority while putting some of the finishing touches on the restaurant’s interior.
2) The owner is being quite selective in his approach to wine merchants, aiming for brands he considers “undervalued” yet quite respected. In passing, Connolly mentioned two Italian varieties he hopes to feature— Prosecco and Lambrusco. Madonna’s will serve mixed drinks as well, though, using Johnnie Ryan Beverages instead of a typical pop gun.
3) Connolly plans to stress buying bottles of wine instead of glasses—he noted that full bottles will be considerably cheaper in proportion to ordering individual glasses. The food menu hasn’t changed from Connolly’s plan in August—a relatively small selection of red sauce-based entrees with rotating specials.
4) Don’t think for a second that there’s not a local emphasis here. Connolly hired local artist Matt Grote—you may remember him from the Buffalo.com piece about ogres—to paint the massive mural hanging above the dining room. See the work below; it looks even better in person. Also, as we were milling about, the owners of Mundo Images, 500 Franklin St., Buffalo, were hanging photos from Italy on the restaurant’s eastern wall.
5) Never ever go cheap in buying chairs when opening a restaurant. They’re an investment, but you won’t have to replace them if they’re quality and sturdy. Connolly told us that he’d done most of the interior work himself, down to constructing the bar.
It remains an exciting time to be an Allentown resident or to live close to Allen Street. The City of Buffalo keeps getting nicer and nicer things.