If you grew up in Cardiff, went to college there, or were just passing through for a night on the town, you’ve probably visited – or at least heard of – the popular bar, beer garden and the magnificent Buffalo Concert Hall. Now, three years after being forced to close in 2019 (which became Wow! bar for a short time), Buffalo is coming back – but not as you know it.
Sharing the same name and building, the new Buffalo will not be a replica of the iconic venue, but one that pays homage to it.
And instead of the venue being spread over the two floors of the building, the top will only be used as a bar and live music venue, while the bottom will be transformed into a swanky new Japanese restaurant named Koi.
Read moreCardiff Buffalo bar to close following ‘massive increase’ in business rates
Both run by the team behind Pennyroyal on St Mary Street in Cardiff – which will turn five this summer – Buffalo and Koi owner and creative director Alexander Taylor, 32, announced the happy news on his social media in writing: “Oh hey big news. @pennyroyalcardiff turns 5 this summer so it’s time for me to move on…I’m getting the keys to this beauty next week. Like most people in Cardiff, I loved this bar from my first visit as an 18 year old – it was hopelessly missed.
“First and foremost. This building is critical to this city’s live music scene, and that will absolutely be respected. @buffalocardiff will be reopening upstairs in September with disco drinks, cold beer and a total commitment to showcasing local talent. The ground floor, however, will make better use of the kitchen.”
Speaking to WalesOnline about the latter venture, Alex says: “The original idea was to invest in [the restaurant] Koi. I was initially looking for a site, so I started walking around town – I took a big walk – and I looked around every corner and just stood in front of Buffalo.”
Having discovered that there was talk of turning the building into residential properties, Alex says: “I immediately wanted to have the conversation [of buying it] because this bar being closed… it’s been way too long. I know it’s only been since 2019, but it’s such an iconic Cardiff venue that it didn’t take long to convince me to go.”
Of splitting the building into two “quite different” concepts, both with separate entrances, Alex from London, who came to Cardiff aged 18, explains: “When we looked at it, it was about half an hour of questions: ‘What are we going to put on the top floor because we don’t need two floors for a restaurant? and I just stood there and thought: ‘It’s kind of wrong to do other thing that ‘Buffalo’.'”
With artists like Adele, James Blake, Glass Animals and others playing there in the past, Alex says of keeping the high standard of a music venue: “There’s been so much history with, not just random parties, but also with the music they’ve also hosted over the years.”
While the upstairs takes inspiration from the former Buffalo location, the downstairs restaurant will be a celebration of Alex’s favorite food, filling a culinary gap he noticed was missing in the capital: Japanese izakaya. It will feature “delicious, modern and cheeky Japanese-inspired small plates and bento boxes.”
And it’s safe to say that the people of Cardiff are buzzing with excitement for its opening. Neighborhood Cardiff wrote in support: ‘Incredible news’, alongside fans and former workers at the old haunt, who showered the comments section with love.
“It makes us happy! The good old days of the bison coming back,” said one user, while another wrote, “Absolutely thrilled with this. Buffalo is one of my old favorite places and I miss it so much, and Japanese food and beer are my two favorite things. Nail on the head, I can’t wait.
As for when the two hotspots will open, Alex hopes he and the team can get the restaurant up and running “late June, early July.” For the Buffalo bar, Alex is “pretty determined” to open in time for Freshers week, bringing Buffalo’s classic “trash disco drinks” to life for students in Cardiff.
“I’m excited for my first shift,” he laughs. “Jump behind that bar and open it again… It’s going to be a fun day.”
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