Out of the Past: Good times at Clark & McKinley

       By Steve Cichon

The name may have changed through the years, but generations of Southtowners hoisted back a few while listening to live music at the building which was taken down earlier this summer at Clark St. and McKinley Pkwy. to make way for new exhibition space for the fairgrounds.


First known as Meyer’s Lunch Bar in the 1950s and early 60s, Chuck Saunders opened the Turfside Lounge, featuring prime rib in the shadow of Buffalo Raceway in 1965.

A few years later, as he was wrapping up his all-star career as a center with the Buffalo Bills, Al Bemiller bought the place in 1969. His hospitality and the live music he hosted became legendary. After a 1982 remodel, “The Turfside” became “The Forum.”


By the mid-80s, it was Ditto’s, then The Clark Street Café.


In May, 2007, a ten alarm fire ripped through had then become known as Seven’s Bar & Café.

Polyphony plays Turfside, 1975

The building sat vacant until it was torn down in June, 2018 after being purchased by the Erie County Agricultural Society.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.