"As the fame of the Grill spread, people from around the country started making it a stop during their travels," explains Henry Mazurek. "With the amount of activity that we had, many thought it was going to be the size of a ballroom! Ballroom, I'd joke. There's barely enough room for one's balls!?!?!?!"
"Down at the Friendly Tavern"...The Legendary Broadway Grill, Buffalo, New York 1977. Pictured used on cover of famous Dyna-tones polka album. Henry Mazurek purchased the Grill from Fred and Irene Sciupider in 1976. Sold the bar to Greg Harezga and Dennis Marciniak. Mazurek recalls as one of the greatest "Grill 'Moments" the 10th Anniversary Party in 1986. “5 days of merriment and mayhem with friends from all parts of the country including local musicians and out of town guests."
Down at the Friendly Tavern: Broadway Grill Offers Something for Everyone (From Polish Union of America, July 1982)
Corner taverns in Polonia are much more than just place where folks can down a few beers after work. Just about every neighborhood tavern on the Polish-American East Side of Buffalo serves as a center for a variety of Community activities. Fish fry’s as Friday nights make the neighborhood tavern a place for the entire family. The Broadway Gill, located at 1202 Broadway, is one of the best examples of shared community life in Buffalo Polonia. The Broadway Grill is known all throughout the polka circuit as having the best live entertainment and polka dancing in Buffalo. This summer the music plays on Wednesday nights from 8-Midnight. No one is ever too young or too old to enjoy the polka as a visit to the Broadway Grill will attest. Kids as young as 5 or even younger are always eager to enjoy themselves on the dance floor. Couples in their golden years dance with incredible energies. Younger polka enthusiasts celebrate their sense of ethnic pride, devising new steps and styles to keep the tradition alive and dynamic. Some of the best polka bands around play at the Broadway Grill: The Dyna-tones, Tom Karas’ New York Sound, The Steel City Brass, The New Tones and many more. These bands are no only popular in Buffalo – they play at many out of the state festivals and receive a fair amount of national acclaim. Best of all, there is no cover charge at the Grill. Drinks are moderately priced and you can always enjoy chicken wings where there is music. On Friday’s, the Grill serves one of the best fish fry’s on the East Side. Henry Mazurek bought and opened the Grill with his wife Patricia in March, 1976. Henry played saxophone and clarinet with the New Yorkers orchestra during their heyday from around 1960-67. The New Yorkers were features on Frankie Yankovac’s television show in 1961 and hosted their own show on WKBW-TV in 1965. They were also features on live radio broadcasts from the Warsaw Inn and the Polish Village. The Grill sponsors a social/athletic club which is always active in support of telethons, lawn fetes and other community activities. The Grill also sponsors a softball team that adds to the summer fun. Anybody who has heard the Dyna-tone knows the words to the song that best expresses the spirit of the Broadway Grill: “Music is playing, dancers are swaying, happiness is in the air. Down at the friendly tavern, everyone’s happy there!”
Henry & Pat 1978
Before I continue, I must thank Rich Kurdziel for providing this RARE peak at the vibrant Buffalo polka scene in the 1970s and early 80s. The following recordings were recorded on January 2, 1977 at the Broadway Grill on Buffalo’s East Side (for more on the Broadway Grill see LAST CALL). As polka music continued to evolve with its young, second and third generation Polish-American audiences, the Dynatones were one of the first polka group in America with a contemporary "edge." With the energy of a "rock and roll" band, the Dynatones combined traditional melodies with Vegas showmanship, flashy promotion and raw talent to become one of the greatest polka bands ever to perform. Lucky for the regulars of the Broadway Grill, the Dynatones were the "house" band for the little tavern near Memorial Drive and across the street from Burnham’s Appliances. As a young child during the 1970s, I can vividly remember my father attending the weekly shows at the "Grill" and the day he brought home the "Friendly Tavern" album he purchased from Ruda’s (more on Ruda’s Records see LOST BUFFALO). Just imagine a smokey back room with 8-10 square tables centered around an open dance floor. Up front, the bar was hopping’ serving up Genny drafts and "highballs." The florescent light from the kitchen cast a white light over the backroom as the Dynatones geared up for another show... This was the "scene" of Polonia in the 1970s. "Polka time once again.... here is...."
Thank you again to Richie Kurdziel for providing me a copy of this rare look into the Buffalo polka scene. Always remember, every time you take a picture, recording a video or audio, you might be the only person on Earth capturing a special moment in time.......
DYNATONES LIVE WIRE - 1982
Click image to learn about the 1982 Live Wire recordings - Dynatones
Polka Fans Travel to Honor a Friend
May 18, 1986
The Buffalo News
“Bob Curran: Recently you mentioned the overflow at the testimonial dinner for Col. Hank Williams. You should check the Broadway Grill, a place that gets the overflow from the Dyngus Day festivities at the Chopin Singing Society.”
The above note came out of my tickler file two weeks ago Saturday when I was on my way to drop by collection of Pearl Harbor Day calendars at an AMVETS convention at the Nowak Post on Broadway. After I talked to some Amvets, I stopped to check the Broadway Grill. And I mentioned to mixologist Tom Zlotek that I was sorry that I hadn’t heard about the special social staged by the Broadway Grill in January until after the event was over.
“That is too bad,” Tom said. “But we are having a celebration of the 10th anniversary of this place next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You could get some of the spirit of the place and the club if you came around on one of those days.”
The following Monday, I called Henry Mazurek, the county legislator who owns the Broadway Grill, and asked him if he would pick a night for a visit from me. He said, “Sunday night would be the best for you. We will have many people from out of town here for the night, which will be the last night of the anniversary celebration.” Somehow I had the feeling that the out-of-towners would be former Buffalonians who had come back to do some reminiscing. Accordingly, I was in for a surprise.
The first people Henry Mazurek introduced me were Mary Jane, Dawn and Tanya Zatawany of Utica. When asked about the reason for the making the long trip, Mary Jane said, “I put on a lot of polka dances and acts as a magnet for polka bands. And because Henry has done so much for polka dancing and polka music, we felt we should pay our respects/ Be we didn’t travel as far as some of the other people who are here. They too are here because of the polka connection.”
The validity of that declaration was borne out by people named Sharon Szymczyk of Fraser, Mich.; Phyllis Skowron of Secaucus, N.J.; Betty Milewski of Ludlow, Mass.; Linda Mitchkowski and Sue Matysiewicz of Sunderland, Mass.; Wally Nowak of Ware, Mass.; Joe Wirek of Chicopee, Mass., and Bill Bybel of Troy, N.Y., who is head bloke of a fun-loving group named “Hrukus.”
Here I have to pause and say that meeting Wally Nowak produced a kick. He said he was from Springfield, Mass., and I then countered with the remark that the late Paul Neville, the editor who brought me to the News, was from Ware and that I had gone to Paul’s funeral there. Wally said, “Actually, I am from Ware, but I day Springfield when talking to people I have just met because few people ever heard of Ware.” Well, Wally was surprised when I ticked off the names of some young old-timers who hold responsible positions at the Buffalo News. Anyway, all of the out-of-towners had the same answer to the question about their reason for making the trip to the Eastside of Buffalo. They agreed with Bill Bybel of Troy, who said, “The polka world is a world in itself. Henry is an important part of that would and we felt we should honor him on this anniversary. Most of us know this area fairly well because we have come here for Dyngus Day celebrations at the Chopins Singing Society.”
Now, I had never met Henry Mazurek until that last Sunday. And I didn’t have the chance to learn much about his contribution to the world of polka form the out-of-towners because they were more interested in the music being played in the back room by a local band called the Dynatones than they were in chit-chatting.
After I saw the last of them disappearing into the back room, I began talking with some local friends of Henry’s. Any you can be sure that I was impressed when I met Dolores and John Marchese. They run an oasis called the Corner Bar and there aren’t many occasions when I find people who run one place celebrating the anniversary of another bar.
They told me they had warm feeling for Henry and his wife Pat. Then John introduced me to Henry’s parents, Stall and Ed Mazurek. And I quickly learned that Stella doesn’t think much more of a certain actress who traveled to Vietnam during the war than do the Americans who were held prisoner and toured in the camps there.
Later I talked with Norrine and Jack Lewandowski of Cheektowaga, and Terry and John Gonciarz and Arthur Szymanski of Buffalo and they talked about the softball and bowling teams of the Broadway Grill Social and Athletic Club sponsors. They also mentioned the different charities that the regulars support.
Somewhere along the line I learned that Henry Mazurek had been a polka musician for 10 years and still dabbles in other types of music. One of the his best-remembered accomplishments as musician was the recording of the “Hello Dolly Polka.”
After I noted that on my pad, I asked a regular about the overflow from the Chopin Singing Society on Dyngus Day. He smiled and said, “You should start your Dyngus Day celebration here next year.” After a while you might decide that the overflow from here goes to Chopin’s.”
Well, I wanted to hear more about the move but was interrupted by someone who asked me if I wanted to try a polka.
That invitation caused me to cut for the exit faster than O.J. Simpson ever moved through a hole. But you can be sure the suggestion about visiting the Broadway Grill the next time Dyngus Day rolls around went into my tickler file.
Polka reunion: Broadway Grill to host ‘Back to the Friendly Tavern’
BY Anne Neville NEWS STAFF REPORTER 08/31/07
The word is out across the country, wherever pockets of polka fans gather to dance and drink and reminisce: Larry and Scrubby are getting back together.
That would be Larry Trojak and Dave “Scrubby” Seweryniak, the vocal nucleus of the legendary Dynatones, the house band at the equally legendary Broadway Grill on the East Side.
“They haven’t been together for 20 years, and they are the best polka duet singers in the business,” said Bob Krawczyk of Cheektowaga. Krawczyk is a polka promoter and manager of the George F. Lamm Post American Legion Grove, where as many as 1,000 polka fans from all over the country are expected to converge this weekend to attend the first-ever Broadway Grill reunion, dubbed “Back to the Friendly Tavern.”
“To see them back together again, these people are coming from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts — anywhere there are polkas, that’s where they are coming from,” said Krawczyk. “We even have people coming from California — they got the word that Scrubby and Larry are getting back together, so here they come out of the woodwork.”
Trojak and Seweryniak will be joined by original Dynatones Dave “Nigel” Kurdziel on bass and Al Piatkowski on accordion. They’ll be accompanied by Tom Wanderlich on sax and clarinet and trumpet-players Tom Picciano and Mike Burka.
During its heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, “The Grill,” as it was known to polka-lovers from all over the region, offered regular weekend sessions played by the Dynatones, one of the most popular polka bands in the country.
“Irregardless of where they were from — out of town, Mass., Michigan, Vermont, New York, Philly, they thought this place here was the cat’s meow,” said Henry Mazurek, a former county legislator who owned the Broadway Grill from 1976 to 1987 and brought the Dynatones there. “It was the place to be, as small as it was.”
How small was it? “Seating capacity in the back was 120,” says Mazurek. “If you stood them up like pencils, you’d have room for more, but we needed to have room for dancing.”
Space will not be a problem at the Lamm Post Grove, 962 Wehrle Drive, Williamsville, where Krawczyk has ordered a large tent and pop and beer trucks to shelter and serve the customers.
Krawczyk was a regular at The Grill from the time he was 18 until it closed, and he
fondly recalls the “old scene.”
“You just parked and you could walk from corner to corner and everybody had music going,” he said, mentioning such old haunts as the Warsaw Inn, the Polish Village, the Polish Singing Circle and the Chopin Singing Society.
“There were numerous businesses close together, so people would walk from one entertainment venue to another,” said Mazurek, adding proudly, “There were a lot of places to go, but I was on Broadway.”
The original Dynatones era ended when Larry Trojak left to take a job in Minnesota. “They tried filling in with different people, and it worked for a while, but you lose that pizzazz,” said Mazurek. “You lose the chemistry.”
The chemistry of the Dynatones was best captured in an iconic recording called “Live Wire,” recorded live during a snowstorm on April 3, 1982, in the Weber Post on Abbott Road. The Lamm Post event Sunday will celebrate that anniversary as well.
“They said they are going to redo ‘Live Wire,’ play all the music from that session,” said Krawczyk, who, like most local polka fans, fondly remembers listening to his “Live Wire” cassette tape.
The Dynatones will begin playing at the start of the event at 3 p.m. A second Buffalo polka band, Phocus, will also play. “Phocus is hot right now,” said Krawczyk. “They just released a CD called ‘Blurred Vision.’ ”
The event will be a mini family reunion for Mazurek, whose daughter Kristy will fly in from Atlanta fo the event. Also attending will be Mazurek’s wife, Pat, son and daughter-in-law, Mark and Becky, and their three children. “My grandkids will be infused a little bit with some Polish tradition,” Mazurek said.
Mazurek is looking forward to socializing almost as much as enjoying the music. “I can’t wait to see some of my old friends,” he said. “I’m 64, and unfortunately many of them are passing now. St. Peter needs a houseman too.”
He predicts that the Broadway Grill and Dynatones reunion and ‘Live Wire’ anniversary “is going to be magnificent, it’s like seeing Halley’s comet. It’s going to be a happening. It’s not just the band itself, which is going to be dynamic in its own right, it’s the people around it who create that aura and atmosphere, the friendships, the camaraderie.”
The Broadway Grill andDynatones reunion will runfrom 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday9/2 at the George F. LammPost American Legion Grove,962 Wehrle Drive, Williamsville.Doors open at 2 p.m. Reservedtables are sold out. Advancetickets at $10 perperson can be purchased atthe U-Crest Music Center,1268 George Urban Blvd., Depew,or reserved by callingKrawczyk at 837-3582. Admissionat the door is $12 perperson, those under 14 admittedfree. Food will be soldfrom 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. whileit lasts.