The Amherst Ale House may be situated on the edge of CrossPoint Business Park, but it's a place to mix business and pleasure, along with sports.
Owner John Bona opened the restaurant nine years ago when he saw the neighborhood developing from a commercial and residential standpoint. "I wanted to open a nice, casual, family-type bar and restaurant to feed the immediate area," he said. "This was up and coming with CrossPoint Business Park and the neighborhood with nice people."
Since opening it has attracted many regulars like Mike Gilbert, vice president of Public Relations and Communications for the Buffalo Sabres. "The fish fry here at the Ale House is awesome," Gilbert said. "I've been to other places around too. It's a staple during Lent to have Friday fish fry."
As huge pieces of fish were soaked in beer batter and dropped into the fryer, Gilbert and I discussed everything from the Sabres losing season (he thinks things will improve down the road thanks to new draft picks) to the excitement building around $200 million HarborCenter.
"In the fall, when this thing (HarborCenter) comes online, it's going to be a gem for downtown Buffalo," Gilbert said. "It will be a magnet and something for people to be proud of, to say, 'hey, look what we were able to do in our city in 18 months."
Sabres owner Terry Pegula is behind the HarborCenter development and Gilbert had nothing but kind words for him. "He's just a nice guy - a simple, average Buffalonian that just happens to be very wealthy."
Gilbert says he's like the guy next door, who would enjoy sitting down for a fish fry like we did at the Ale House, which is known for its Sabres specials.
"We do a special. We call it Hockey Night in Amherst," Bona explained. "All Sabres games, we have half-price pitchers of beer and half-price medium pizzas. That special's valid until they win the Stanley Cup."
"So we hope they win it soon," Bona added, smiling.
While Gilbert can't control the team's record, he can help instill confidence in fans. "We're getting better," he said. "There's a lot of hope for the future with a lot of the draft choices we have."