J.B. Boas to welcome public on Wednesday
by Joshua Maloni
Imagine a place where Gatsby, Sinatra and Bourdain would all feel at home.
Now imagine such a place on the corner of 19th and Ferry in downtown Niagara Falls.
Jonathan "J.B." Boas could imagine such a place.
And so, when the opportunity arose to become general manager at The Topper Social Club, he took it with great excitement. After months of renovations, improvements to the bar and stage areas, menu consultations and plate selections, he'll open the swanky, 160-seat dinner-and-a-show restaurant on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
"We just felt this neighborhood needed something like this to bring an upscale clientele to 19th Street and Ferry Avenue," said Boas, who once operated the Little Yellow Chocolate House on Center Street in Lewiston.
Working in collaboration with Carl DeFranco, who owns both the building and block, and Wine on Third chef Kevin Robertson, Boas has built an upscale establishment unlike anything else in the city.
For starters, "We're a live entertainment venue in Niagara Falls; we're one of the few that were built for live entertainment," he said. "You can go to a lot of different little bars and it's cool, and it's fun to hang out, but they weren't built for music. They stick a band in the corner and you can't really hear them. The room's not built for the acoustics. This is a venue that was built for live entertainment."
The Topper has a dance floor, a large stage, a DJ booth, a piano bar and even a mirror ball. The venue will welcome bands of all musical genres, offer open mic nights and dance lessons.
The "flare bar" (as in flame) has a handmade wood wine rack; a custom, rotating German craft beer tower with 16 different selections; a super-fast frozen drink machine; a lounge with VIP bottle service; and, of course, Boas, working his "Cocktail"-like magic behind the counter.
"I think we've got some neat stuff," Boas said.
Dinner selections will include steak, pork tenderloin, fish, chicken, vegetarian and pasta dishes. Offerings on the American-fusion menu range in price from $8 to $26.
"We're going to have our à la carte menu, which is kind of an eclectic, casual-to-fine-dining menu," Robertson said. "We also have some lounge-style food - sandwiches, appetizers. We want to create a flair with the food."
In the spirit of old-school, big-city underground supper clubs, each Saturday night guests can enjoy a different, four-course prix fixe menu with craft beer and wine pairings while watching a different band perform.
"There's nowhere to go and do what we offer," Boas said. With what he calls great food, a unique bar and unmatched live music variety, "Who wouldn't want to come here?"
Inside the spacious Topper, there are posters of classic rock stars and '50s crooners on the walls, mirrors behind the black-and-white tables and chairs, and chalkboards scrawled with specials.
"It's nostalgia just walking in this place," Boas said.
He credits DeFranco with making the corner of 19th and Ferry a safer, more appealing destination. He promises guests that The Topper, with a Niagara Falls Police substation next door and four Marines manning the perimeter, is a safe spot to spend an evening.
"People don't have to worry about this corner," Boas said.
The Topper is, technically, a membership-based establishment that is open to the general public. Boas said those who join can take advantage of valet parking, immediate seating and invitations to private events.
The Topper is located at 492 19th St., Niagara Falls. The restaurant is open Wednesday through Sunday (though not on Thanksgiving), from 4 p.m. until midnight. For more information, call 1-877-652-3813 or visit www.thetopper.net.