Gone are the days of the Elmwood Lounge. Well, sort of. The new owner of the restaurant, Mike Milkie, is in the process of updating the interior while keeping the familiar retro lounge much as it was. “These days it’s all about the food,” Mike told me as he paged through a scrapbook filled with photos of his past restaurant endeavors. “There was a time when I ran ten restaurants at once in Buffalo. I look back at all of this history and think to myself, “Did I really do all of that?”". He did. He did “All of that” and more. I stopped Mike as he paged to a photo of himself standing beside Marlo Thomas. “Can you put that photo in the article?” he asked, smiling. “Of course,” I answered (see photo below).
To talk to Mike Milkie is to talk to guy who has just about done it all in Buffalo at one point or another. His laundry list of restaurants that have spanned some 60 years include Falling Star, The Milkie Way Theater (his claim to fame), Sutter’s Saloon, The Miner’s Ten, Bobby McGee’s, the Old Docket, The Little Dipper, Charlie Brown’s, Gulliver’s, Tiffiny’s, The Club Armondo’s (a Bunny night club) and Milkie’s on Main. In that time Mike developed a taste for live jazz and blues, which he wants to bring back to his new restaurant Friday through Sunday. “I know that people will look at this building and think of the Elmwood Lounge,” Mike told me. “And that’s OK. I want them to know that we have brought Lance Diamond back – after all he has had a 20-year run here. The biggest change that we are making is the concentration on food. I want this place to be known for the food – something that the Elmwood Lounge was never really known for.”
As for the food, the crux of the operation, Mike has hired his niece, Suzanne Milkie, to be head chef at Milkie’s. Suzanne has been in the restaurant industry for 20 years and has cheffed at some impressive places including The Park Lane, Siena and Chris’ Deli, which means that she is well versed in a variety of menu styles. Diners can expect to find a series of soups, flatbreads, burgers, salads, make-your-own deli sandwiches, pastas… there’s an Angus reserve sirloin, a salmon fillet, lasagna rolls, open souvlaki, pastrami and corned beef Ruben, steak sandwich, homemade hummus, loaded waffle fries and tons of extras. For the first time I can actually say that I’m going to be heading to the ‘old’ Elmwood Lounge for lunch or dinner…
Not only will there be good food at Milkie’s, there’s also going to be great music. Mike is excited to tap into the jazz and blues scene in Buffalo and anticipates that he can drum up some of the former musical glory that this city was once known to have. “My plan is to brighten the place up,” Mike continued. “We’re painting the walls and a new sign is on the way. I want people to know that we’re going to be putting a lot of effort into Milkie’s. I’m happy to be on Elmwood and I’m happy that we’re offering good food and good music, while retaining much of the retro feel that many Buffalonians have come to love over the years.”
Milkie’s is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Also serving food from the bar menu until 3am. Check the website for full list of dining hours, live music schedule, menu, poker tournaments, open mic and karaoke nights, etc.
Milkie’s on Elmwood
522 Elmwood Avenue (@ West Utica)