It’s as much of an institution as it is a bar. The flash of the neon lights draw your eyes, the live music your ears. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving or literally any other day, because it stays open all 365. If you’ve been to Ellicottville, you know The Gin Mill.
Boasting a rich history, the bar has changed ownership three times since its inception. Current owners Ed and Maribeth Rick purchased the business in 2007 and continued operating it in a fashion consistent with previous ownership. Live music multiple nights a week, a laid-back atmosphere, pub food and friendly staff made the transition a seamless one.
But oft times, growth requires change.
“We made the move to operate in a building we own,” Ed Rick said. “The business outgrew the square footage. We don’t own the building The Gin Mill is currently in, and we wanted to ensure it stays an Ellicottville staple.”
In 2015, the Ricks purchased the building at 34 E. Washington (home of the former DJ’s Restaurant, A Touch of Ellicottville and Bike & Bean) and began its transformation. After tenant leases ran up, they started with renovating the upstairs, turning them into luxury accommodations dubbed Brickstone Suites.
“We let all of the leases run up before we began with the downstairs,” Maribeth said. “We also wanted to maintain a lot of the history in that building — there’s some very cool stuff in there — so the work wasn’t rushed. We want to get it right the first time.”
They’re getting it right. You’re greeted by a 36-foot, completely restored bar when you walk in, complemented by original brick walls behind it. The stage — which before, could host a 3- (or very tightly) 4-piece band — has tripled in size. On one side, original copper ceilings soar 16-feet above your head. Due to an upstairs apartment fire years ago, the adjacent ceiling had to be ripped out. But the Ricks found a copper pattern that matches almost perfectly. All in all, they’ve more than tripled the workable square footage.
Continue in, where a separate dining area will allow for increased capacity. Behind a sliding barn door will lie The Carriage House, one of the most exciting new things about the move. A smaller area, it will offer high-end wines, liquors and cocktails where patrons can go if they want to drink in a quieter setting.
“It was a little niche that was missing here,” Ed explained. “We’ll offer small plate type of appetizers, away from the hubbub of the typical bar scene. It’s going to create a quiet atmosphere. We’re very excited about that.”
The staff will remain the same, but both Ed and Maribeth noted they’ll be looking for help once they’re open in the new location. At first, the menu will stay similar to what it looks like now, but they’ll eventually add on — something they couldn’t do before because of their limited kitchen space.
“We want people to know that just because we’re moving, they shouldn’t expect anything different,” they said. “We’re keeping the same vibe as always. Everything in here — the animals, the Jack Daniels stained glass sign, the Rolling Rock cooler — will make the move. And we’re not planning on shutting down for down time. We’re going to have a party, and the next day we’ll make the move.”
The Gin Mill plans to move into their new digs on August 1, but stay updated on all of the happenings on their Facebook page.
“We’re excited, and a little sad,” Maribeth said. “But we’re proud of the work we’ve done so far, and proud of what we’ve done to that corner. We can’t wait to get in there.”