Heritage Businesses in WNY / Ulrich’s 1868 Tavern
Welcoming new generations of patrons
Photos by kc kratt, except for food photos by Jim Bush
674 Ellicott Street, 989-1868
Bar and restaurant
Open for lunch, happy hour, and dinner every day but Sunday
How old: 150 years
How many employees: 13
A community hangout that started out as a grocery and saloon, Ulrich’s acquired its name when it was owned by Michael Ulrich from 1905 to 1946, a time when it was a popular gathering spot for both the local German community and area politicians.
Following the advent of prohibition in 1920, the downstairs was converted to a delicatessen and restaurant while a speakeasy was operated on the second floor. In 1955, the business was bought by the Daley family, and it continued for decades as a lunch spot and tavern, as it remains today.
When current owner, Salvatore G. Buscaglia, purchased it in 2013, the decor and fixtures had changed little since the nineteenth century. But he saw that there was still work to be done to restore it to something closer to its original condition, so he closed for six months of renovation.
In addition to keeping longstanding historic details such as the original painted tin ceiling and the 1910-era bar and stained glass, Buscaglia added 1875 oil lamps converted to electric light and hand-painted patterned walls designed in the style of the late 1800s, as well as custom tables—which he personally crafted—in the bar area.
Some of the historic tavern's signature dishes.
Buscaglia notes that the community has been very supportive of the changes and, above all, are happy he kept the business intact as a bar and restaurant, an outcome that seemed far from certain when the property was up for sale and located in a busy and developing area where parking is at a premium.
“The community was really thrilled and supportive that we were keeping it Ulrich’s,” he recalls.
Manager Rachelle Toledo credits longtime loyal customers—among other factors—for Ulrich’s longevity. “We have a really strong group of regulars here. People walk in the door and we know them by name,” Toledo says, adding that some customers are even third-generation regulars. She says that the growth of the medical campus has helped them prosper, making for busy lunches and happy hours.
Ulrich’s manager Rachelle Toledo
Moving forward, Buscaglia says he plans to grow the business in a way that further caters to the local lunch crowd. He would like to offer more of a deli/coffee shop component with a quick sandwich option and may close briefly for renovations again in the future in order to make that a reality.
Buscaglia and Toledo are both looking forward to the eventual bump in business once renovations are underway at another classic Buffalo landmark that is located right down the block: the Trico building.