Anacone’s – Our Home Away From Home

     Although many an insult could be, and have been, heaped upon the locale our big brown house was situated in, there was one point of convenience in the very close proximity to Anacone’s Inn on Bailey Ave.  Where we frequented many drinking establishments during the Comstock years, such as the Pier, Sutters, PJ Bottoms, Molly’s Pub, the Icon, Blind Mellon’s, as well as some 19+ clubs on Clifton Hill in the Falls, none came close to having the charm, nor decency to have us over so often as Anacone’s.           

     During our freshman year, Paul and I both fell into cahoots with the UB Irish Club, and accompanied them many a time to their favorite watering hole, Shirley O’Aces on Bailey Ave where the beer was cheap and they didn’t care much for the burden of proving legality to be on the premises.  On one such trip to Shirley’s Paul brought along some gamer friend of his. A highly talkative lad who was able to comprehend and show interest in Paul’s creation Timeslip, where few else had the tenacity to endure. I knew this person only as Psycho and recalled seeing him at the very few Wargames meetings at Joes that I still attended senior year. Paul once brought him by the dorm when I was busy conducting ring response experiments with the telephone. But I digress.  These were fine excursions, usually capped off by garlic bread with cheese from Mike’s Big Mouth and a bladder voiding upon the side of the Presbyterian church.            

     Psycho only came on the one outing (to my relief as his youthful chatty exuberance was a painful contrast to the reserved Knaus whom I was more accustomed to). When he joined us on a more permanent basis the following year as a suite mate, it was no time at all before we made the long walk down there once again. To our shock, it was no more; surely a result of their proofing policy and admittance of the Irish S.A. hooligans.           

     The presence of Anacone’s was discovered by Mike Ende and me the summer before we moved into Comstock. We were out one night, up to no good with Kevin Walsh, and it occurred to us to swing by the old Shirley’s location to see if perhaps they had reopened under new management, but with the same liberal policy regarding age discrimination. To our surprise and dismay, they had been replaced an awning store. Bitterly disappointed, we continued down Bailey, and but a few short blocks down we discovered Anacone’s. With a complete disregard for caution, we boldly entered the premises. A wizened old drunk in the corner barely looked up, and a fly bespeckled slab of roast beef eyed us lazily from beneath the heat lamp. “What’ll ya have?” our bartender and host enquired. Gold. We had struck gold. As men, not boys, we parked our asses on to the stools and had ourselves a few drafts of foamy brew.           

     Having absolutely no sense of direction at the time, it completely escaped me that this glorious sanctuary was but a block and half from our house until many months after we moved in. I was probably riding around with Knaus on some unnecessary errand when we came across it and I realized the favorable distance, calculated to be no more than a quarter drunken mile. Recalling the ease of entry, I was able to convince the cautious Knaus to make our way up there a few nights later. Knaus was just as impressed with premises as I was and we sidled up to the bar and enjoyed ourselves a pitcher or 3 of the now defunct ambrosia known as Stroh’s Dark. Pitchers were a paltry $3.25; well within the budget of poverty stricken, house-poor young roustabouts such as ourselves. The bartenders’ name was Chip as we came to find out, and after we had established ourselves as regulars, he would have our first pitcher half way poured as we made our way in the door.           

     In the beginning, Paul and I kept this secret to ourselves. At the time, Aaron was preoccupied with his girlfriend who didn’t drink, Dave usually had better things to do, or would coerce us into watching a movie instead, Dan wasn’t coming around that much yet, and Jason was expressly forbidden to ever be told of this place. As did the Eurotrash intellectuals in Paris café’s, we talked philosophy, religion, politics and literature over pints of the Stroh’s and an occasional succulent roast beef on weck sandwich or a steaming bowl of home made chili. On most occasions, almost exclusively school nights, we would remain until almost closing or one of us was losing the ability to walk. On one occasion Paul had disappeared into the restroom for far longer than it generally took him to powder his nose. Investigating, I came in to find two gangly legs, jeans tucked into cowboy boots, protruding from under the stall. Concerned, I asked if he was all right and considered the possibility that I would have to drag him out from under, risking getting the floor slop that covered him, on my hands. He affirmed that no problem existed and that he would be out momentarily. True to his word, he was, and made no further mention of the incident.            

     Most of those early expeditions out were initiated by Paul, who would make a loud announcement that he was on a quest for alcohol, and burst forth from the house whether anyone was following or not. On some occasions when I arrived well after him, I would often find him with a large crowd of people who where heretofore and thereafter complete strangers. While somewhat quiet and reserved in his day to day persona, inebriated on beer, cough syrup, or entire packages of Vivarin, he would transform into a dynamo of personality, resplendent with wit, charm and good humor. Such nights were always a hoot, although memories of many are hazy at best. On one such occasion Knaus was so enjoying his bevy of temporary followers that I made my own way back. On the way, leaning against a sign post for rest, could not help but notice that it was somewhat loose in the ground. Rocking it back and forth I was delighted to find that it could be extracted. Carrying it home was more difficult than anticipated due to the 3 feet of solid concrete at the base, but Molson muscles prevailed. This completed the décor motif established by the spare tire stolen from beneath its owner in a very similar incident, not to mention the orange road cone and beerymid, once installed in the corner behind the couch.           

     It wasn’t exceptionally long before we clued the existence of the place in to Aaron, Dan, Matt and the lot, although the ban on Jason was upheld throughout. While drinking at the house was generally considered more economical, Anacone’s boasted a pool table, leaving us struggling to compete. In addition, to the inebriated, and perhaps even the sober, they served up a wickedly fine roast beef or chili, as well as the normal bevy of bar foods, and all at fraction of the cost of joints in safe neighborhoods. The juke box while perhaps not having the most up to date selections, fit the economic scheme of the area and provided plenty of fine tunes to mellow out to. I can’t think of anyone who was a regular at Comstock who did not at one time or another join us at Anacone’s.           

     One of the enduring qualities of Anacone’s is that it outlasted the Comstock experience and remained the place to be for many years after until one by one, each of us peeled away and scattered across the country. I seem to recall going there just as often in the Princeton years and beyond as it became the official after Madison’s hang out. I think my last time there; however, was much like one of the first. I was home for good from the Air Force and Knaus and I decided to drive over for old time’s sake. Almost 10 years before I had first set foot in the place, it didn’t look a bit changed. Some new beers on tap, a couple of new selections in the same old juke box, and a different face tending bar. I still feel that if I were to walk in right now it would feel like half a lifetime ago. 

**It is my firm belief that there are many Anacone’s stories to tell and I urge the other authors to make new entries for the long one’s rather than just comment on this.**


21 Responses

  1. I can’t believe it took this long for anyone to post an Anacone’s story! I have one for an ill-fated, but highly entertaining New Years I will compose.

    Anacone’s was such a charismatic place that everyone we came into contact with set foot in that place, except Jason. Even the staunch non-drinker of alcohol, Louis, visited Anacone’s on a few occasions. Anacone’s was the group’s Putt-Putt (center of the Universe -as Schultz could always be found at Putt-Putt if no other way). Many times I had no idea what was the activity of the evening, and did not even make an attempt to find anyone. I just headed over to Anacone’s and on all occasions found someone there I knew well enough to drink with.

    I only regret I did not enjoy Anacone’s more when it was so close to me. Of course I could say an almost similar thing about 231 Comstock. I did not engage in enough tomfoolery while there, especially the first year.

  2. Bad news. I just did some searching and our ‘Home Away From Home’ closed it’s doors forever in Feb of this year. I guess you really can’t ever go home again.

  3. I believe I was at Anacone’s 2 or 3 times total, but probably during the Princeton timeframe, or even the 95-98 period, rather than Comstock. In one case I think Matt was already with Jessica so that was much more recent. It is unfortunate that it closed, even though it wasn’t that great for me as a non-drunk.
    Speaking of Putt Putt it too was renamed. Another thing gone forever. Just wait until they close the Mighty Taco on Eggert Road!

  4. Say no such evil! Mighty Taco will grow and come to the West Coast!

  5. I am not suggesting Mighty Taco will close; just that the store on Eggert Road is doomed for not having a drive through. The one on Sheridan and Delaware will live for a long time. I think the one on Forest Ave near Elmwood already closed long ago for similar reasons. As far as the West Coast, it will not arrive there before Wegmans does. Of course, that’s why it is wise not to relocate away TOO far… I was at Wegmans on Sunday.

  6. Yeah. I was there on closing day, with Ian and Atomic Don. It was a sad affair, but we always had a good time there. I had been going there since I was 16 (off and on).

    The great thing about Anacones was that it never changed. The same faded posters and signs from 1968. The same cracked tiles, wobbly tables, and padded chairs with slits down them. $3 pints of Guiness.

    I learned to shoot darts and pool there. How to hit on girls, and drunkenly talk to strangers. Fun fun fun.

    I told Rob adn Andrew about it, and their reaction was, “There’s no point in going back to Buffalo now.”

  7. How did you end up there on closing day when you yourself are a Buffalo exile now? Hmph. Regardless, there must still be at least one place continuing on in Buffalo.

  8. I believe the Mighty Taco business plan does not include an expansion agenda. Chances are it will remain local, so there is always reason to return. Unless, of course, it is bought out by Taco Bell to quash the competition.

    I think Anacone’s is also the place where Dan’s students bought him a beer.

  9. I came in for the closing cerimony, and left (Hung over) the next day.

    When I was a subsitute teacher some of my students did indeed buy me a beer. This was after they’d graduated HS, of course.

  10. Did anything special happen for the closing ceremony, or in Annacone’s fashion, was it business as usual? To be honest, after JJ stopped bar-tending it was never quite the same for me.

  11. You’d be surprised by how many other blogs mention the now defunct Anacone’s. Google it. …It’s memory has now achieved “legend” status.

    I guess I owe a lot to that place. If it weren’t for Anacones, my two children wouldn’t exist. (That’s where I met Marko.) Isn’t it scary how the universe works?

  12. Edit: That should be “its memory,” there’s a lot of English teachers in the room. Sorry.

  13. Edit 2: “There are a lot of English teachers.”

  14. Who, Dan? He’s teaching southern English. How to conjugate “y’allses” and the collected works of Zane Grey, the ‘Shakespeare of the wire rack’ and such.

    Anacone’s was legendary and we should all tip a sip to the curb for our fallen homie when next in posession of a lager. What is scary is how long it remained opened in the crappiest neighborhood north of the fruit belt while serving more underagers their first drink than the rest of the Buffalo dives combined. I’d still kill for a bowl of that chili on a cold day.

  15. I’d really like Dan to comment on the web site I recently learned his students put up about him, but were forced to take down!

  16. What? Did anyone save the contents?? I’d glue my left nut to the wall to see that!

  17. That was 4 years ago, idiots.

  18. I just heard about the site. Tell us the story. I heard it had a picture of you pointing and the site said you have issues.

  19. That should be “four years ago, idots.”

    Remember, you spell out all numbers under 10 🙂

  20. …Tee hee. Don’t feel bad Dan. My students think I’m mean because I actually take the time to CORRECT their papers!

    One time my mother in law was over while I was correcting papers and I showed her a particularly bad one. She said, “What country is this person from originally? It sounds like she doesn’t know English too well.” I told her, “You want to know what country she is from? Lockport!”

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