A is for The Armory Grill – The building the grill now occupies actually pre-dates the Armory, which was constructed in 1894. Before it became a restaurant it was The Suits Hotel (pictured above on left), named after the family that owned it. The bar of the popular Amsterdam eatery is one of the oldest in the city. The Armory Grill has been in the competent hands of the Parillo Family for a couple of generations and is now run by Ralph and Jackie Parllo. Other “A” bars in Amsterdam included: The Annex, Adolph’s, Atlas Tavern, Andy’s & ALC.
B is for Bigelow Weavers Club – I’m not sure if there are still any members of this Brookside Ave. organization that actually worked in the Bigelow-Sanford Mills but that’s how it got it’s start, as a social and recreational gathering spot for the men (only) who wove the world-famous carpets that gave Amsterdam it’s Rug-City nickname. Before it became a clubhouse, the structure was the residence of William Barclay Charles, a textile merchant who made his fortune selling cotton and wool to Amsterdam’s gigantic carpet and knitting mills. Charles was at one time Amsterdam’s representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Other “B” bars in Amsterdam included: Burza’s, Baldy’s, Ben’s, Boice’s, Boggie’s, Bob’s Tavern, Blaze Inn, Bigler’s & Brookside Tavern.
C is for Corner Tavern, which was owned by Bill Pabis (pictured above), who also served as the City of Amsterdam’s Recreation Commissioner when John Gomulka was the mayor. Other “C” bars in Amsterdam included: Crystal Bar, Carl’s, Celmer’s, Canale’s, Coogan’s & Chico’s.
D is for Draus’s Grill which stood almost opposite Ludwin’s on the east side of Church Street in the building above (as it appears today). Other “D” bars in Amsterdam included: Danny’s, Dirsie’s & Dew Drop Inn
E stands for East Main Street bars and the only one of the five listed in this question that did not have an East Main Street address was Tower Tavern, which was owned by John and Nell Slusarz. The Tower was on Lark Street less than a block up from East Main in the building pictured above as it appears today. At least you can still see how this once-popular East End watering hole got it’s name.
F is for Final Score, the name of Frank Sculco’s hopping sports bar that was located on the corner of West Main Street and Tryon in the same building that housed the answer to “M” below. Frank was and I think still is one of the great bartenders (and pizza makers) of all time. He loves the Packers, Bobby Murcer and Muhammad Ali and don’t get him going on the OJ Simpson trial! Other “F” bars in Amsterdam included: Frank’s, Friendly Tavern, the 44 Club, & Fraulein’s
G is for Grum’s Grill, a fixture on Grand Street for two generations. Ray Dybas ran the bar plus served on the Montgomery County Board of Supervisor’s representing the Seventh Ward. He and his wife lived next door. If someone bought you a drink at Grum’s but your glass wasn’t yet empty, Ray would slide one of the chits shown above in front of you. Another “G” bar in Amsterdam was Grand Finale.
H is for the Hawaiian Klub, which used to be located at Church Street’s 5-corners where the Mobil Mini Mart now sits. The Slusarz family ran the business and it was a favorite stop for people seeking Polish cuisine. Other “H” bars in Amsterdam included: Holik’s, Husted’s, Hillside, & Harold’s.
I is for Isabel’s Restaurant, which certainly had to be one of the most successful combination restaurant/bars in Amsterdam history. Proprietors Guy and Ida Isabel’s winning formula was a great staff, great food, a well stocked liquor inventory and a classy interior atmosphere that couldn’t be topped by any of their local competitors. Bartender Bam Frollo would have his hands full every weekend dinner hour with a full bar that usually reached two-person depth. And we’re talking a drinking crowd that went for manhattan’s, martini’s and old fashions. Other “I” bars in Amsterdam included: Irish American Club, Ick’s & Ivy Leaf
J is for JDR’s, the name given the former Happy Grill when new proprietor, Joe DeRose took it over from Adam Grinces, back in the 1990’s. Other “J” bars in Amsterdam included: Jam’s, Joe’s & John and Jean’s.
K is for Kuk’s Grill, the former James Street bar owned by the parents of AHS and Duke University basketball standout, Tim Kolodziej. Kuk’s served some very good Polish food as well as Mrs K’s outstanding fried chicken, but it was definitely one of those typical shot and a beer Amsterdam watering holes, patronized by Polish- and Italian-American workers from the city’s carpet mills. It was a sports minded clientele. Tim’s mom was a Kuk and she had two brothers and a nephew who were legendary Amsterdam athletes in their own right, each having signed professional baseball contracts and played minor league ball. Other “K” bars in Amsterdam included: Kiddo’s, Korner Pub & the Keg Room.
L is for Liber’s and the former West Main Street establishment’s big-hearted proprietor, Eddie Liberantowski. He sponsored a bunch of softball teams for guys and gals, in both fast pitch and slow pitch leagues and told them apart by assigning each squad a color. There were very few nights during softball season that Liber’s bar room and patio did not fill up with players from those teams celebrating a victory or forgetting a loss. Other “L” bars in Amsterdam included: Lorenzo’s, Lanzi’s, La Cucine, Landmark, Lenczewski’s, Luba’s & Lean Two.
M is for Martuscello’s, the West Main Street bar that was THE Amsterdam place to go for a dozen raw or steamed clams. Hard to believe that basement door of the pretty innocuous looking residence above was once the front entrance to paradise for Amsterdam’s clam lovers! Other “M” bars in Amsterdam included: Minnitti’s, Marcellino’s, T.J. Minnitti’s & the Muni Clubhouse.
N is for David Nyle Nelson (pictured above), a classmate of mine from the AHS Class of ’72 and a teammate of mine from our days playing softball together for Shorty’s. We nicknamed him “Scandor” back then because he reminded us of a viking and he liked the new handle enough to use it as the name for the sports bar he built out of the burnt-out remnants of the old Pietro’s Grill on Bridge Street.
O is for Our Place, the hopping South Side nightspot that sat alongside the Valley View Motel on Route 5S. The place started out as a restaurant called the Spanish Galleon but when Buddy Discenza made it his place, he made “having fun” the number one entree on the establishment’s menu. Another “O”bar in Amsterdam was O’Shaughnessy’s.
P is for these four bar-owning Amsterdam Politicians: No: 1 is former Seventh Ward Alderman Alfred Koziol whose family owned Koziol’s Tavern on Grand Street, which later became the Park Hill Pub and then Slicks. No: 2 is Paul Parillo, who owned the Armory Grill with his brother Ralph before he was elected Amsterdam Mayor in 1987 and then opened the restaurant L’Ultimo after he left office. No: 3 is former Fifth Ward city alderman Angelo “Susie” Sardonia, who opened his bar called “Susie’s Grill” right across the street from Chalmer’s Knitting Mill, where Sardonia worked for years as a foreman in various departments. What better way to stay out of hot water with the boss than going to his place for lunch or an after-work thirst quencher on a regular basis? No: 4 is former Sixth Ward Alderman Joe Pepe, one of the three Pepe brothers who took over the operation of their father’s West Main Street bar and restaurant called Sammy Pepe’s when he suffered a stroke. Other “P” bars in Amsterdam included: Pietro’s & Post 701.
Q is for the Quattrocchi brothers, Herman and Emil, who ran Herk’s Tavern on Bridge Street. Like Susie Sardonia, the brothers also developed a good stream of income from the appetites and thirsts of the Chalmers’/Montco’s Knitting plant’s workforce before selling the business to Flip Bracchi in the 1980’s.
R is for Russo’s, which began in the 1920’s as an illegal speakeasy in the rear of patriarch John Russo’s West Main Street grocery store. John’s sons; Angelo (Babe), Pat, Louie and especially Vince kept the place hopping for another whole generation and now John’s grandson Michael is doing the same. That’s founder John Russo above in the second photo from the left. His son Vince is third from the left and Michael Russo is pictured furthest to the right. Other “R” bars in Amsterdam included: Rupsis, Ray’s Place, Recovery Room, Red Carpet & Rusty Nail.
S is for Shorty’s Tavern and it’s founder, Shorty Persico, who was one of the most popular Amsterdam amateur boxers in the late 1920s and ’30s. As his nickname suggests, he wasn’t very tall but he was built like a bulldog and he was as tough as a pit bull inside the ring. But he was a big-hearted, personable teddy bear outside the ropes and he attracted a huge following of fans and friends to the Broad Street tavern he opened with his wife Phil. The business is no longer in his family but it still bears his well-known and much-loved name. Other “S” bars in Amsterdam included: Sky Harbor, Skiba’s, Schotts, St. Michael’s, St. John’s, Shamrock, Sundowner, Scoreboard & Sportsmen’s
T is for Tony’s Tavern. It was named after a friendly, cigar-chomping Yankee-fan named Tony Fischetti. His indispensable partner was his hard-working better-half, Anna Fischetti. Together, they turned that corner restaurant into one of Amsterdam’s busiest, especially on Friday nights after AHS basketball games, when you couldn’t squeeze in either of the establishment’s two doors. They made outstanding pizza and delicious sandwiches. Today, the Greco family is carrying on the tradition with Bosco’s, one of our city’s busiest restaurants. Other “T” bars in Amsterdam included: Tuman’s, Tip Top, Tippy Martin’s, Tee-Pee & Topaz.
U is for Upstair’s Bars and La Piazza Social Club is currently the busiest second floor bar in Amsterdam. Of course I think it is the only upstairs bar open for business in this city but even if there were others, La Piazza’s “private club” business model, which permits customers/members to enjoy smoking cigars while they partake of alcoholic beverages would probably still be drawing crowds. A “U” bar in Amsterdam would have been the Ukranian American Club.
V is for the Vanderveer Street Social Club. It opened for business in the 1980’s when the Amsterdam chapter of the Polish National Legion could no longer justify the need for the spacious clubhouse they had built in 1950. The social club proved a to be a very popular nightspot and I know for a fact that one of my AHS Class of 72 classmates met her husband there. Eventually, the club’s business trended downward and the site now serves a a church.
W is for Wall’s Tavern, which was located at 60 Lyon’s Street from 1952 until 1962, when the owner, Adolph Wall relocated to Forest Avenue, where he opened a new bar called Adolph’s, which would feature Go-Go dancers. I am a friend of one of Adolph’s children, his son John Wall, who was a superb schoolboy athlete during his days at Amsterdam High School. Adolph Wall is pictured above. Other “W” bars in Amsterdam included: Walt’s, Warehouse Lounge, the We Blue Inn and the bowling alley bars that were at Will-Ton and Windmill Lanes.
X is for X-Rated entertainment and the Mohawk Lounge, which was located on Market Street, across from the old Rialto theater, was the first and one of the very few bars in the city to feature topless dancers.
Y is for the Amsterdam YMCA where one of Amsterdam’s great all-time boxers, Measles Raco (who also went by the last name Rocco during his fighting career), mentored city teenagers who wanted to participate in the sport. Raco was partners with Pinky Palmer in a downtown bar called Pink & Rock.
Z is for The Zoo, the name of the bar that moved into the building that housed Baia’s Tavern, after Bear Baia closed his iconic business. The Zoo did not remain there very long and two city fire fighters, Anthony Condello and Sam Greco moved in with their new business creation, which they christened Samanthony’s.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this nostalgic A-B-C brainteaser about Amsterdam’s bars, grills and taverns. If you remember a bar I haven’t referenced above, do me a favor and use the comment feature found below to tell me and everyone else about it.