A very unusual Arts & Crafts style oak bar and back bar with a storied history was auctioned on Friday of our Fall Classic, November 17, 2023.
It was built in 1909 and carries brass builder nameplates for A.F. Meyer Bar Fixtures – Beer Pumps 408 Broadway Buffalo, N.Y..
A full timeline history of the bar is below.
The back bar measures 25’ wide (including crown), 10’-7” tall, 22” deep (not including crown).
The upper part of the back bar features sliding leaded glass doors. The left side has an open 6’ wide jug rack with shelves. The back bar center has 3 mirrors, the center mirror is capped with a leaded glass scene of a European castle and lit from behind. The right side of the back bar has large sliding glass doors with wood shelving for liquor storage. The bottom center of the back bar has clear glass doors with tiered storage/bottle display with the center door having the original ice block compartment for cooling.
The back bar has 5 square Arts & Crafts style leaded glass shades that light up. All the leaded glass on the back bar is in VG condition with no missing pieces. The back bar ends are both finished, and the wood retains its old original finish. Back bar in VG overall condition.
The front bar measures 26’ wide, 43” tall, 28” deep.
The oak paneled front sports a solid mahogany top which has had some recent professional repairs.
The bottom of the front bar has an 8” marble base and a brass foot rail.
The left side of the front bar has an unusual 4’ wide built in tobacco case with a glass top and front.
The front bar has the original finish with the exception of the top which is ready for refinishing.
Also included is business cards and paper ephemera found in the back bar drawers from the Club Rom-Way days of operation. The front bar and back bar break down into components for shipping.
Bar Timeline & History
•The building is located at 1334 Broadway Buffalo, New York (corner of Broadway & Rommel).
•In 1900 Buffalo had the highest Polish population in the U.S. and this area of Buffalo was known as Polonia.
•The building was designed for Stanislaus and Katarzyna Tomaszewski by prolific Polish-American architect Wladyslaw H. Zawadzki.
•1909 - Permit to build issued on November 24th.
•The bar and backbar were built by A.F. Meyer 408 Broadway, Buffalo, NY. August Meyer was a builder and supplier of saloon bars, soda fountains, and store fixtures.
•1910 - Buffalo City Guide lists Stanislaus Tomaszewski as operator of a saloon at this location.
•1920 - On Jan. 17th, Prohibition starts and the saloon closes.
•1920 - Benjamin Szewczyk and his wife Mary purchase the building and open Benny’s Grill. Benny's Grill would become a notorious speakeasy during prohibition. From 1926 to 1933 the bar would be raided five times with violations ranging from bartending to distilling whiskey and spirits and each time they would pay the $250 fine and open again.
•1933 - On December 5th, Prohibition officially ends. After Prohibition, Benny transformed his tavern into a legitimate restaurant and bar and ran it until 1943.
•1943 - Peter A. Niciszewski and his brother-in-law Raymond S. Raczyk buy the business and open Club Rom-Way, a contraction of the location at the corner of Rommel & Broadway. They feature live country western bands and become well known for their New Year’s Eve parties..
•2004 – After 60 years in business, Niciszewski closes Club Rom-Way in December.
•2005 – Niciszewski passes away in January at age 90.
•2006 – The bar is removed from the building
•2007 – The building is purchased at a delinquent tax sale
•Present – The building is still for sale in a depressed area of Buffalo. Efforts are underway to revitalize the neighborhood.