By Kim Nevin
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
Located in Allegany, roughly 60 miles south of Buffalo, The Burton is one of the most notable bar-restaurants in town. It has made a long-lasting impact on St. Bonaventure University alumni and the locals of the Allegany area. It is widely known for its famous “Burton Burger,” the “best burger in town.”
Ray and Millie Mulvey were the owners of The Burton in the 1950s and ’60s. They are the ones who originally created the famous burger and began the tradition of welcoming in the students of SBU.
The “Burton Burger” is a half-pound fresh burger, cooked medium (unless otherwise specified) on a flat-top grill. The signature bun is toasted, buttered and salted. Many will often pair their burgers with either curly fries or beer-battered onion rings.
It may sound like a typical cheeseburger meal, but there is something about it that makes it stand out among any other burger for thousands of people.
Longtime “local legend” Leon “Patsy” Collins took over the business in 1975. He carried on the tradition of the “Burton Burger” and began many of his own traditions throughout the years. He made many people from all over feel welcomed and like family. He even was the one who began hiring college students as his bartenders. He owned the business until 2013, when he sold it to two of his children: Crisanne Nevin and Leon “Chuck” Collins.
It was during the siblings’ ownership in 2016 that the “Burton Burger” was voted the Best Burger in Upstate New York. This was a contest that took place on social media with multiple rounds of voting. First were nominations, and then came the online polls. While online voting went on, a team of judges visited numerous restaurants to try their burgers. The “Burton Burger” won the online polls by over 5%.
Nevin said, “The reason we were even able to win this award was due to the outpouring love and support from the Bonaventure community. We had alumni voting online all across the country. That’s just how much Bona alumni love The Burton.”
This goes to show how truly memorable of an establishment The Burton has become for anybody who has gone to SBU. It is a special place for many who have spent their formative college years in the small town. Nevin believes that one of the reasons so many people find The Burton special is actually because of where it’s located.
“Allegany is a small town an hour away from any major metropolitan areas, with very little around for the college kids to do,” Nevin said. “We always wanted to do our best to give them a good and fun atmosphere to hangout in on the weekends. And during the week, we always provided our non-student customers with that same, welcoming environment. My father, who many knew as ‘Patsy,’ is who to thank for many of the amazing times and experiences had at The Burton. When Chuck and I took over the business, we did the best we could to keep his traditions alive for both the locals and the St. Bonaventure community.”
Kevin Daugherty, who attended SBU in the ’90s, listed several things that make The Burton a special place to him: “It’s been there since the 1930s. The intimacy of the bar. The fact that, due to its ‘neighborhood’ vibe, you feel like you can go in there any day – and chances are you’ll know a few people. Also, the close relationship with St. Bonaventure. Everyone that has ever attended school there knows the place. Finally, the legendary burger!”
Nevin and Collins decided to put The Burton on the market in early 2019. A group of four SBU alumni saved the day and bought the small-town business later that same year to keep the traditions and history alive.
David Przesiek, one of the four current owners, said, “Once in a very great while, if ever, do you get a chance to be a caretaker of a piece of history; and when you get an opportunity, you need to take it.”
The Burton holds a special place in Przesiek’s heart, as well, as it is the place he met his wife at many years ago. He also spoke to the amazing art deco architecture and, of course, the famous “Burton Burger.”
Many alumni of SBU across the country still regard The Burton as their favorite bar-restaurant, even years after graduating. There are several aspects of the small-town tavern that make it a special place for all to remember.
Daugherty said, “The Burton is a part of the Bonnies experience. It’s quite simply my favorite bar of all time, in any city I’ve ever lived in. It has a special place in my heart.”
When recounting memories of his time at The Burton, Daugherty said, “My favorite memories of The Burton were spending Saturday afternoons during the school year at the bar. I usually arrived around noon, ordered a burger, drank a bloody Mary or a few beers, played some games of pool, and reviewed the details of the previous night with friends.”
Daugherty also mentioned Wednesday night “Mug Club” as a fond memory. This was a tradition that the longtime owner Patsy Collins had in the early ’90s. Anyone could buy a Burton mug and, every Wednesday night, one would pay a flat rate of entry and be able to drink as much draft beer as they wanted – filled in their mugs. This is no longer a special offered at the business, however, it’s still a strong memory in many people’s hearts from the previous years.
Today, The Burton is still a staple for the current students of St. Bonaventure. “Burger Night,” with trivia and drink specials, is regularly held on Thursdays.
Also, while many will say that the famous burger is the best thing on the regular menu, it is not the only food item the eatery serves. The Burton has chicken tenders, pizza and Texas hots, among many other options to pick from.
Making sure the current Bonaventure community and local customer base has as much fun at the Burton as they used to in college is important to the current owners.
Przesiek said, “Being the innkeeper of The Burton is and will always be a pleasure. It is an anchor to both the Bonaventure and Allegany community. Our intention is to maintain a long-standing tradition of welcoming customers with a cold drink, great food and good conversation.”
To learn more about the Burton and get weekly updates on its specials, visit:
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