In a twist of fate, Leon Rung (photo right), the original owner of Cafe 59 has joined forces with Chris Connolly to open Madonna’s restaurant on Allen Street. I say ‘fate’ because Chris was the guy who bought Cafe 59 from Leon. Now the two are a couple of weeks away from opening the doors to a freshly remodeled, casual, authentic Italian restaurant. Seeing that both Leon and Chris have been able to figure out the formula of running a successful food operation in Allentown, I’m sure that the partnership will be nothing short of miraculous.
The restaurant is being very loosely billed as “part Virgin Mary” and part “gay bar” (refer to the original article) in order to accommodate all those who live in the neighborhood. In order to make the space work, there was a desperate need to overhaul the interior. Starting with the removal of the main wall that stifled the entire restaurant, Madonna’s is finally beginning to see the light of day (literally and figuratively). Where there was once a wall, there is now bar seating. Where there was once a low ceiling behind the bar, there is now vaulted space. The restaurant features a multitude of seating arrangements including bar stools along the front window. A fun mural by Matthew Grote has been painted on the overhead dining room wall. Photos from Ann Peterson (Mundo Images) have been hung, and more artwork is on the way.
As you can see, the design premise behind Madonna’s is neat and simple. Along with the clean lines, there is one flatscreen TV at the bar for showing Sabres games (if we ever have any). The owners are hoping that this will become a relaxing neighborhood bar and restaurant – a place where the food stands out and the wine list is as much of draw as the smells that waft out the front door. Nothing fancy, just quality offerings at reasonable prices. I have no doubt that a traditional and casual Italian restaurant will be welcomed by the neighborhood, especially considering that the owners are institutions themselves.
62 Allen Street
Buffalo, NY 14202