Inside Business Track: Madigan’s Turns 35
From Mullligan’s Brick Bar in Allentown to the Green Bar in E’Ville
By Chad Neal
Last week marked the 35th Anniversary of the legendary establishment in Ellicottville, Madigan’s. Every year the Kells, owners of the bar and restaurant celebrate their successful business by inviting friends and family to enjoy a slew of appetizers, prepared by Jay Buchhardt the renowned Captain of the Ship or the chef, both of which mean in charge. And the Kells also offered drink prices from 1981, the year they opened. The 35th Anniversary party had a large showing of people that came to celebrate with Kevin, Grace, Connor and Caitlyn (Croft), Shane and Brynn and the youngest Kells – Quinn and Gavin. Ushering in the ski season with their annual commemoration Madigan’s has been and is a popular location to relax, party, enjoy and meet people. As a matter of fact Madigan’s has been the center point for several couples who met there and are now married, not to mention the good luck dance on the bar after they get hitched in Ellicottville.
The History of Madigan’s starts 35 years ago. Grace Kell worked for Rita McKnight who owned the previous business in the building called the Harness Shop. The Kells bought the business and building much to the chagrin of McKnight’s son Jimmy Joe Pierce who said “I told my Mother no, don’t do it! Keep the Harness Shop mom, don’t sell it. I sat with her at the kitchen table in November of 1981 when she signed the papers with Kevin Kell and Patty Ford. Then in early 1987 I met this girl Therese McMahon who was a part-time bartender there. 29 years,and four beautiful children later, the rest is history. Congratulations to Kevin and Grace and their beautiful family. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
The building has had many facelifts and reinforcements because of the abuse it has taken on. It has grown, as it started out as the downstairs restaurant and back bar they called the tv bar. The mahogany bar itself they used came from Mulligan’s Brick Bar in Allentown in Buffalo, NY. The business has seen it’s share of bartenders and staff and the many tens of thousands of visitors walking the floor, some of which is over 125 years old. If you inspect some of the original beams holding the building together you might be able to tell how old they are and wonder what stories they would tell if they could talk. The building grew in length and the upstairs bar was implemented making the longest bar in Ellicottville, and some say the county.
The Villager caught up with some patrons to ask them about some memories they had about Madigan’s: Gail Burroughs (Eddyville) said she remembers “Our wonderful Mother’s Day parties.”
Eliska Yeskey (Ellicottville) said “I met my husband for the very first time during a Madigan’s Anniversary party, I think it was 2003, 13 years ago. We still enjoy hitting up Madigan’s whenever we are in town.”
Tara Orme-Latreille (Canada) jested, “I don’t have any memories of Madigan’s from the past 20 years, it’s all a blur!”
Celeste Ramirez (Peru) reminisced, “As a foreigner, the Green bar was the best place I went during my exchange program. I made the most lovely memories and met wonderful people there.”
Lloyd Long (Salamanca) reflected “Twan, Ray-Ray and I were out for the famous Party Squad on a Thursday night. The only audible thing you could understand from Twan was something like…blah, blah, blah YANKEES! Twan then looks at Ray and I and said something inaudible, walks over to the lead singer and takes the mic- he then proceeds to sing (audibly) “Symphony to the Devil”. Ray and I decide to buy him a shot and do one with him. Twan walks over, reaches behind the bar for a napkin, tucks it into his collar and then grabs all three shots. He shoots one then wipes his lips with the napkin like he is royalty and repeats for the other two shots. When finished he throws the napkin across the bar, looks at Ray and I and states-”like a rock star!” This fantastic story only started what was a crazy night.”
Campbell Dawson (Chautauqua) stated, “Every ridiculous, over the top, young, dumb, party antic, sexual, funny, cool or crazy thing you could dream up that might happen in a bar, I’ve been involved in or seen happen at Madigan’s. Not kidding.”
Kyle Brassel (Buffalo) said, “The day I got to dance with my beautiful bride on the bar.”
Terri Lamb Listati (Ohio) said, “I celebrated my 40th birthday there with about 25 people who surprised me from Cleveland.”
Jen Bedell (Cattaraugus) shared, “I got my first ever 8 Ball break at Madigan’s!!! Was so excited, I screamed at the whole bar to stop and look, took a picture of the table then back to a new game!”
These and many more memories are in the heads of many folks who have been to Madigan’s. The history is entertaining and the staff is A-1. Definitely one of the most popular hang outs in Ellicottville, for being 35 it sure doesn’t act like it. Madigan’s has the cure for what ails ya, perhaps a cocktail or some real good comfort food for lunch and weekend dinners, and the laughs you get will make it worth the while as well. Happy Anniversary Madigan’s!