Heritage Businesses in WNY / Glen Park Tavern
Comfort is key
The Glen Park team, including Ellie Grenauer and her father Jim Grenauer, at center
Contemporary photos by Stephen Gabris, except bisque, by kc kratt
5507 Main Street, Williamsville
A restaurant described as a “Cheers-type” place
How old: 131 years
How many employees: 50
Ellie Grenauer, co-owner and general manager of Glen Park Tavern, had been in the restaurant business for years, but she had never intended to become involved at the Tavern. Things have a way of happening, though, and now she—and her father and a third partner, cousin Chris Robshaw—has been pleasing customers for twenty years in the historic spot, and having fun doing it.
The Glen Park exterior
“I was in Australia, and got a call from my dad,” she recalls. “He said he was going to retire. He’d been in sales, and always liked going out. He decided to buy the Glen Park—he thought it would be ‘fun’ to run a restaurant! I said, ‘Are you crazy?!’” By the time she got back home, he realized he needed her help, and pulled her in as a partner.
Previous owners of the Glen Park include local restaurateurs Jerry Meyers and Dan Vicere and Judge James Kane of Williamsville, who dubbed it the Red Carpet Restaurant when he ran it. At that time, it featured a popular piano bar. (“Classic early pickup joint,” laughs Grenauer.)
Much earlier, it was one of the hubs of town activity; customers would tie up their horses out front and lope in for a whiskey and a chat with their fellow townspeople. When you think about it, not that much has changed.
Vintage view of the tavern
The long, mirrored mahogany bar adds to the warm and comfortable feel of the place. Grenauer says that’s exactly the environment and service that she wants to evoke at the establishment. “Our values and mission are to match the service with the atmosphere. Our staff—we have very little turnover; some of them ‘came with the building’—go the extra mile in how they greet and treat customers,” says Grenauer, who also notes Chef Todd Posch’s attention to detail and quality. “He cares a lot and puts in a lot of time and effort,” she says. “All our soups are homemade—we sell a lot of soup and sandwiches—we’re going for that comfort-food feeling.”
Lobster bisque and another signature item, Tom & Jerry cocktails
“We have amazing customers, and they love the restaurant. We’re fortunate,” Grenauer adds. “We get positive feedback; people are always saying thank goodness you’re here; thank goodness you’ve lasted!”
Grenauer’s involvement in the business extends to the larger community as well. “I’m a member of the Williamsville Business Association,” she says. “It’s really important to me what happens in the village, and the Tavern is an essential part of that. I also participate on the village planning board committee; when we (or any business) does renovation to the outside of the building, it’s important that any changes coincide with the vision for the village.”