Out of the Past: Alhambra on the Lake

       By Steve Cichon

Alhambra on the Lake, a nightclub with a Moroccan theme, was a popular lakefront destination for young folks looking for dinner, live music and dancing.

Ad announcing Alhambra’s grand opening, 1930. From the pages of The Buffalo Evening News.

The musical performances from the castle-like Alhambra were often heard on Buffalo radio stations like WGR and WEBR.

Before the building was Alhambra’s, it was Pirotta’s Lakeshore Manor, where Angie Maggio’s Crystal Beach Orchestra was the musical attraction and Pasquale Pirotta’s “Real Italian” cooking brought in diners from around the region. Pirotta had quite a following as his restaurant on E. Eagle St. in Buffalo, which was said by the family to be the city’s first Italian restaurant.

They opened the Lakeshore restaurant in 1929 with $80,000 in renovations.

“Mr. Pirotta’s stylish new restaurant which is perched on a cliff, almost at the water’s edge… his business constitutes a decided asset to the township,” reported the Erie County Independent. Within a year, it was sold and reopened as Alhambra.

In 1945, the interior was “completely remodeled, decorated and refurnished,” and patterned after the famous Hyross Club on the Danube in Austria.

A promotional announcement in the Courier-Express boasted “Two floor shows will be presented nightly, featuring the best talent available through New York and Chicago booking offices.”

“Roaring flames lit up the night sky” as, in 1954, the roller skating rink that was once the Alhambra was destroyed by fire. Five volunteer companies responded to the massive blaze, which not only left the building a total loss, but also consumed 400 pairs of rental roller skates.

Part of the site is now the parking lot for the former Bedrock Eatery.

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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.