If you grew up in the Town of Tonawanda, you probably remember sitting in the back seat of your parents’ minivan as it drove past Caputi’s Pub on Sheridan Drive – dreaming of the day you’d be able to walk in for a beer.
About 4 years ago, Vinny Caputi took over the family business from his father. More recently, he and his brother Derek expanded the operation with the new Candyman Pizza. Located in a former private event room that is attached to Caputi’s, Candyman offers wood-fired pizzas, craft beer, wine and a wide selection of whiskies.
The new expanded concept was born during the pandemic. The Caputi brothers put an oven in the parking lot to accommodate outdoor dining, and success made them think it was time to upgrade the old Northtowns staple.
Updating a well-known bar-restaurant can sound like a no-brainer to us young people (ahem) but too many changes can alienate customers that kept the place running for many years. Recently, I asked Vinny Caputi how the transition is going.
“The regulars who enjoy each other’s company, who go there to have a good time with each other – those are the ones who have stuck around through changes,” he said. “If you’re not taking away what they like about the place and you’re just adding more, I think that’s the key.
“With Candyman, we added a separate room to the back area,” he added “If that’s offensive to someone who remembers Caputi’s from the 1980s, that’s cool – we still got the front bar that looks exactly the same.”
Looking at the new Candyman Pizza, a reference to both the Grateful Dead and classic horror films, it’s hard to find something not to like. The renovated space has a modern look and enough seating for about 60 people.
Fans of the classics can order a Margherita ($12), pepperoni ($13) or four-cheese pie ($15. Those who want something different can get The Candyman ($14), with pepperoni, honey and Calabrian chilies or the Wood-Fired Meatball ($13), with vodka sauce.
There’s also a whiskey-focused full bar with eight craft beer taps, a small wine list and a few craft cocktails.
The times are a-changin’ at Caputi’s and Vinny Caputi said the reception to the on-going evolution has been “pretty good across the board.”
“I think we’ve found that middle ground,” he said. “We’re keeping the old timers happy, not rocking the boat too much with respect to what they like. But we’re adding things that people are coming out for these days.”
Hours at the time of publishing (subject to change): Open Thursday – Saturday 5-10pm
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