Scharf's was established in 1967 and is still going strong.
Margarete Scharf was born in Luhe, in northwestern Germany. Her family moved to Nurmberg when she was young. She and her husband Karl, arrived in Buffalo in 1957 under the sponsorship of her uncle, George Troidl. She worked as a waitress at his business, Troidl’s Restaurant, and at Lougus Restaurant for several years.
In 1967, Mr. & Mrs. Scharf bought the former Rimbeck’s Schiller Park Tavern. She loved the building and the location - at the dead end of South Crossman Street and because of its proximity to the park. The building had a long and interesting life; the portion that the bar occupied was originally built as a small chapel. Later it was expanded and converted to a tavern with an apartment upstairs. During Prohibition it served as a popular speakeasy and opened as Schiller Park Tavern after, under the guidance of the Wittmer family. It was opened as Scharf’s Schiller Park Restaurant on October 1, 1967.
In 1968, Mrs. Scharf held one of the area’s first Oktoberfest events, as part of the restaurant’s anniversary celebration-a tradition which continues annually to this day. While the restaurant is famous for its potato pancakes, Mrs. Scharf received approval from the NYS Department of Agriculture in 1982 to bottle and sell her homemade “German House Salad Dressing.”
For 45 years, the atmosphere at Scharf’s was unlike that of any other restaurant in the City of Buffalo. Many old time customers could be found at the bar enjoying German beers while speaking in their native language. In 2012, however, they were in danger of closing. As the neighborhood's German residents moved out, assimilating into less ethnically segregated areas, the demographics of the neighborhood changed and business began to fade. Customers perceived the changing neighborhood as a dangerous thing.
Scharf's was saved from closing by a pro bono ad campaign by a local advertising agency that helped raise support and customers returned for another run and an opportunity to look for a new location. That was found at the Deerhead Inn, another family-owned tavern in West Seneca, that closed after a 52-year run.
On July 23, 2014, the news reported "The wurst of the waiting is over. Scharf’s family German restaurant reopens in West Seneca today."
In addition to German and some American dishes and seafood, Scharf's continues to offer six German Biers on tap as well as many more in bottles, along with a variety of German Wines and liqueurs and a full bar. The menu is virtually identical, Schnitzel and Sausage and Potato Pancakes and such. Additionally, prices have remained the same. Jerry Scharf is the proud owner, and his wife and 2 of their 3 children are working as assistant managers.
In regards to the history of the restaurant, Jerry Scharf likes to say BORN IN '67, SAVED IN '12, REBORN IN '14, and TURNING 50 in '17. Future plans include 3 outdoor festivals in the summer of 2016 and a new kitchen to facilitate expanded hours and the extra work load.
Here's to another 50 years!