Looking back at Buffalo through matchbooks

Today, marketing is a highly skilled and nuanced mix of artistry and science. It wasn’t so long ago that the most thought that most businessmen would give marketing is making sure people leave their business with a pack of matches with the business name on them.
Everybody smoked. Every business sold cigarettes. Everybody had a pack of matches in their pocket, and if they didn’t– they needed one. Everyone handing out matches was a win-win.

Matchbooks eventually became more that just a means for lighting a butt.

People might hold on to colorful, fun, or borderline pornographic (from a 1950s sensibility) matchbooks. Some became souvenirs of visiting a restaurant or a city.

Matchbook collecting became a serious hobby for many through the second half of the twentieth century.

eBay seller uniqueanteek has recently posted over 12,000 matchbook covers for auction, several dozen of which are from Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and the immediate area.

Especially for some of the smallest businesses, like neighborhood grocery stores, corner taverns, and storefront restaurants, these matchbooks are the sole surviving proof that these businesses ever existed.

Most of these matchbook covers date from the 40s and 50s, with a few as late as the 70s or early 80s.

Enjoy this unique, broad look at Buffalo’s pop culture history through the matchbook covers of uniqueanteek, and if the spirit moves you, head over to any of uniqueanteek’s auctions, and pick up one of these or any of the thousands of cool covers listed for sale.

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If you have anything to share about any of these places, drop me an email: steve@buffalostories.com

 

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Marker’s Gay Way was at 1321 Broadway.
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Link’s Tavern 2715 Seneca St stood where I-90 crosses over Seneca near Harlem.
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The Hotel Graystone on South Johnson Park was recently renovated into luxury apartments.
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Jew Murphy’s Steel bar at 369 Pearl St stood in a spot now occupied by The Key Towers.


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Teddy’s Beauty Shoppe, 3173 Main St. Today the spot is Slice of Italy pizza, next door to The Lake Effect Diner.
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Salemi’s Club Rainbow was on Court St. behind Buffalo City Hall. The burlesque style entertainment was accompanied by 25¢ spaghetti plates.
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Laube’s Cafeterias were all over Buffalo and “famous for food,” but the name “Laube’s” lives on in reference to “Laube’s Old Spain,” which outlasted the cafeterias for decades.
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Curt’s Stop Inn , 1341 Kensington Ave. It’s still a bar, and still has a stop sign on the front– No word on Curt.
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Pop & Freddie’s Call’s Grill, 140 Forest Ave. between West and Grant on the West Side.

 

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Before there was Lombardo’s, there was Tommy’s Tavern– Tom Lombardo, proprietor– Michigan Avenue at East Utica.
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Arkansas Bar & Lounge, 12 Grant Street. Stood where Rite Aid now stands near the corner of Hampshire.
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The Friendly Inn, 844 Washington, looks like it would have been the corner of Washington and Virginia, one block west of Ulbrich’s.
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Style Beauty Salon, 108 York St, at the corner of 17th on the West Side, about a block from Kleinhans
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Casa Di Amici, 1066 Abbott Rd, South Buffalo. Now a doctor’s office at the corner of Carlyle.
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Carrot Top Inn, 222 Katherine St, Old First Ward. at Hamburg St, today it’s Cook’s Bar & Grill
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Little Harlem Hotel, Michigan Ave. One of Buffalo’s most famous/infamous jazz nightspots.
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Tudor Arms Hotel, 354 Franklin St. Now apartments, half a block south of Edward.
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Ryan’s Hotel Niagara, on Niagara St. near Niagara Square, was known in the 1950s as one of the first places in Buffalo known as a “gay bar.”
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Ricardo’s Steak House & Lounge, 252 Delaware Ave. Was located in the recently demolished Delaware Court building at Delaware and Chippewa.
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Western Auto, 1393 Seneca St., was located about where I-190 crosses over Seneca near Bailey.
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Bison brand sausage. Also the makers of Buffalo’s classic Bison Dip.
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The Park Lane at Gates Circle. One of Buffalo’s most elegant dining experiences for generations.
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Mure’s Campus Restaurant, 1110 Elmwood Ave., home for decades to Mister Goodbar.
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Merry time Restaurant & Lounge, 305 Oak St. Located about where Oak, Huron, Sycamore meet, one block east of the Electric building.
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Leonardo’s Tasty Italian America food,                   386 Pearl St., just south of Chippewa. The site is now a parking ramp.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jay’s Catering, 1257 Genesee St. Two blocks north of MLK Park. Now a vacant lot.
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Maroon Grill, 382 Pearl St., same block as Jew Murphy’s and Leonardo’s, just south of Chippewa.
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The longtime home of Theo Phillies’ Chippewa Liquor Store, 86 West Chippewa St. is now the home of the Emerson School of Hospitality (and one of the best lunch deals in Buffalo.)
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Sterns Electric Equipment, 66 Broadway, near Broadway and Oak.
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Kam Wing Law Chinese Restaurant, 433 Michigan Avenue. Michigan near William
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Kenney’s Hotel and Grill, 605 Michigan Avenue. Michigan Ave at Sycamore
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Stage Door 416 Pearl Street
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EW Edwards Smoke Shop
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Sears, Roebuck & Co, Main & Jefferson
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Hertel Stamp & Coin 1283 Hertel near Colvin
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KR&G
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Miniature Falls Restaurant 27th & Ferry Ave, Niagara Falls NY
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Miniature Falls Restaurant 27th & Ferry Ave, Niagara Falls NY
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Blasdell Hotel, 149 Lake Ave, Blasdell, NY
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Angola Hotel, Angola, NY
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Statler Hilton, Buffalo
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The Bowlers Lunch, 39 Buffalo St, Hamburg
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Goodyear Wende Oil Corp., Buffalo
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WRCA Radio, 660 AM New York City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chez Ami, 311 Delaware Ave, Home of the Revolving Bar
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Chez Ami, 311 Delaware Ave, Home of the Revolving Bar
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South St. Auto Wreckers, 88 South St, Lackawanna
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Wa-Ha-Kie Hotel, River Rd at Tonawanda City Line
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Ilio DiPoalo’s Ringside Lounge
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The Hayloft Restaurant, Chickenon-the-Rough, Jamestown
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South St. Auto Wreckers, 88 South St, Lackawanna
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The Bowlers Lunch, 39 Buffalo St, Hamburg
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Annex Grill 2847 South Park Ave Lackawanna
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Evans Restaurant Southwestern Blvd & Abbott Rd, Orchard Park
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Hotel Gowanda, 26 S. Water Street, Gowanda
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Helen’s Grill, 2232 Hamburg Turnpike, Lackawanna
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Paradise Motel, Pine Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY
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Lancaster Roofing Co, 5154 Broadway, Lancaster
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May’s Grill, 11 Ridge Rd, Lackwanna, NY
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Triangle Motel, 627 E Main, Batavia, NY
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Bradshaw’s / Schneider’s Lewiston
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Steve’s Grill, 2748 Bailey Ave
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ABC Motel, Niagara Falls Blvd
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Wanakah Grill Pleasant Ave Hamburg
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Otto Hollnberger, 13 West Main Street, Lnacaster
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Randazzo Tavern, 40 Main Street, Akron, NY
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Sunrise Motel, 6225 Pine Avenue, Niagara Falls, NY
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La Salle Sportsmen’s Club, Tuscarora & Porter Rds, Niagara Falls, NY
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Urkainian Club, 75 17th Ave, North Tonawanda, NY
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Stanley’s Restaurant, 239 24th St, Niagara Falls
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Water Wells– Joe Sheldon, 177 Sheldon Rd, Orchard Park
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Busy Bee Grill, 315 Erie Ave, Niagara Falls
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Club Ray-Ott, Falls Street, Niagara Falls
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Feldman Bros. Furs 1812 Main St, Niagara Falls, NY
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Busy Bee Grill, 315 Erie Ave, Niagara Falls
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Orchard Park Hotel, 51 N. Buffalo Rd, Orchard Park, NY
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Lucille Beauty Shoppe, 822 E. Delavan Ave, Buffalo



Published by

Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. The operator of Buffalo Stories Tours writes about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo special at blog.buffalostories.com and daily at buffalonews.com/history. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and spent 20 years working in Buffalo radio and TV, climbing his way to news director at WBEN Radio. Since then, he's been an adjunct professor and produced PBS documentaries. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.