By Alicia Dziak
Looking for a cool new place to grab a bite? Sample the best local brews? Watch the game? Listen to music? You got it! All that and more is for the taking at Finnerty’s Tap Room, now open and ready to welcome you the next time you need a night out.
“It’s been a fun process,” owner Billy Finnerty said of his experience getting everything up and running in a short period of time. “I really want to be a part of this community.”
As a young child, Finnerty lived in the Pocono Mountains area in Pennsylvania where his father was a golf pro. His family eventually moved to the Hamburg/Orchard Park area, where Billy attended St. Francis High School. He found himself at JP Fitzgerald’s, a popular restaurant in Hamburg, where he worked for 20 years. During his tenure there, Finnerty and his brother were the prime caretakers for their mother, who was ill and eventually passed away. He explained that he was so impressed with all the good he saw in people during that time that, “It really changed my mentality,” he said. “I was so grateful for the community support that I decided to give back.”
He started volunteering as a driver for Meals on Wheels and his territory included Springville and other southtowns.
In late 2015, Finnerty began helping out a friend who had opened a restaurant in East Aurora. While that didn’t last long, it gave him valuable restaurant experience.
When the opportunity came up to occupy the vacant restaurant space in Ellicottville, Finnerty said, “Since I had already been driving to Springville (from Hamburg, for Meals on Wheels), it didn’t seem that much further.” He instantly fell in love with Ellicottville.
“Ellicottville reminds me of my youth,” he said. “It’s a tight knit community with mountains all around.”
The restaurant, which is located on Mill Street, across from the Wingate Hotel in the heart of town, offers a variety of fare, as well as 20 beers on tap.
Finnerty hopes to, “merge my Irish side with the Asian twist the chef puts on many of his dishes,” he said.
Popular dishes include Rueben Spring Rolls, Buffalo Chicken Potstickers, Pad Thai, and Beef on Weck, but Finnerty is sure to explain that the menu is ever-evoloving. “We didn’t want to rush the menu,” he said.
The restaurant offers numerous daily specials, and some will be incorporated into regularly-offered items.
“We’ll take the specials that sell out and add them to the menu,” Finnerty explained.
And the beer? “We have enough to make everyone happy,” Finnerty said. He’s concentrating on populating the selection with local beer from places such as EBC, Resurgence, Four Mile Brewing and more. The bar is also stocked with several bottle varieties. “We really want to be able to cater to everyone,” he noted.
And for those who prefer something grape-based? “We are also expanding our wine list,” Finnerty said.
In addition to daily specials, Finnerty is excited about starting up their Friday fish fry this Friday, Jan. 13. “Come in for happy hour, grab a fish fry and enjoy the rest of your night,” he suggested.
Finnerty’s will also offer live music on special occasions. “Most of the music will be in the bar area, but we do have a stage for special events,” Finnerty stated.
One of those special events is happening this Saturday, Jan. 14, when Finnerty’s will host a Grand Opening Party all day long. Highlights include all day food and drink specials, giveaways, football on the big screen, raffles and music at 9 p.m. by Finnerty’s good friend Tim Britt, who Finnerty describes as singing “everything from Dave Matthews to Billy Joel to David Bowie to Mumford & Sons.”
“It will be an easy hang out, and (Tim) will be playing cool music that makes you feel comfortable,” Finnerty said.
Finnerty’s boasts a staff of about 20, with Finnerty himself leading the charge.
“I’m the first person you see when you walk in the door, and the first person you talk to if there’s an issue,” he said of his accessibility and visibility inside the restaurant.
Finnerty values the opinions he gets from patrons. “Whatever feedback I get, I implement as soon as I can,” he stated.
He complimented the staff on helping to get a very busy opening underway.
“Everyone who works here knows it’s all hands on deck,” he said. “Everyone helps out as needed.”
The space is also a work in progress, and Finnerty plans to take down some of the more “generic” decor and replace it with more EVL-centric pieces and cool lights. He’s even planning on bringing in a popcorn machine for some go-to snacking for bar-goers. “We want to give (Finnerty’s) a more homey feel,” he said.
Finnerty’s is open daily at 11:30 a.m. There are designated parking spaces across the street at the Wingate (Finnerty’s also offers delivery to guests at the hotel), and plaza parking spots can be used after other businesses in it close for the evening.
For more info, visit www.finnertystaproom.com or check out their Facebook page @finnertystaproom.