When the Sterling Tavern closed its doors last fall, many people lamented the loss of an iconic neighborhood pub.
If you never had the pleasure of walking through its doors, the Sterling was a place you could feel comfortable bringing anyone to – from your Irish grandma, to your meat-and-potatoes co-worker, to Your Cousin the Artist. Each one would see something they like – tradition, simplicity, character – reflected back at them in the place’s old tile floor or curated beer selection. Keep in mind: The Sterling wasn’t perfect, but that was part of its charm. It was a blue-collar bar for people with taste.
When the news broke that Kevin Brinkworth, part-owner of Blue Monk, would be taking over the old place – many people breathed a sigh of relief that the old Sterling Tavern would be in good hands. Transforming a long-standing neighborhood business might seem like a daunting task for most people, but this isn’t Brinkworth’s first rodeo. As you might remember, his Blue Monk team successfully transitioned another neighborhood bar in need of renovation: Merlins.
Brinkworth and the rest of the management at the new Sterling Tap and Wurst went on to send out assurances over social media that their restaurant would essentially be a sister establishment to the Blue Monk, knowing prospective customers would trust an extension of the Blue Monk brand.
In a recent interview, Sterling’s general manager Carmen Huffnagle told me the long international beer list Blue Monk is known for will make its way up to North Buffalo. She added the thought process going into the opening of a gastro pub on Hertel is a bit different the approach one might take on Elmwood.
“It’s similar, in that people like selections, they like options,” she said. “But, it its different in that it’s a little bit more laid back. It’s a little more casual.”
Having grown up in North Buffalo, Huffnagle said she has watched Hertel transition from an old Italian neighborhood that shut down when the street lights came on — to a vibrant community packed with young families. She added that Sterling Tap and Wurst will reflect that transition and cater to those young professionals looking for quality in their beer and pub food.
In order to bring their concept to life, the new owners completely renovated the space, making it more modern and open. Fans of the old place will notice some familiar-looking wood fixtures highlighted with modern lighting.
“The entire layout has been pretty much changed,” Huffnagle said. “We took down the wall that divided the bar from the dining room, creating an open layout, and we’ve added a patio. We also extended the kitchen because the menu has been extended as well.”
Early forms of the new Sterling menu indicate the food will be quite different than the burgers and chili the old place was known for serving. The new owners have partnered with Wardynski’s to create a line of exclusive sausages that incorporates various types of wild game – including wild boar, venison and buffalo meat.
Huffnagle noted that the new Sterling still pays homage to the old Sterling, particular its well-know hamburgers.
“We are using the same purveyor of their legendary burgers,” she said. “So we’ll have a similar product with our own spin on it.”
That nod to the past with eyes to the future is something we keep hearing over and over in our on-going coverage of New Buffalo and the next chapter in North Buffalo truly begins on Wednesday, when Sterling Tap and Wurst turns the page with its Grand Opening.
For more info on Sterling Tap and Wurst, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.
Sterling Tap and Wurst
Neighborhood: North Buffalo
1487 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo, New York
WEBSITE / MENU
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