By Elizabeth Riggs

With its delicious house specials, fun décor, weekly appetizer and drinks specials, and abundant live entertainment, it’s easy to see why Balloons Restaurant and Nightclub has floated to the top of Ellicottville’s list of go-to venues for both locals and skiers alike. Balloons, which has been open for nearly 30 years, is a full-service restaurant, dishing up house specials like gourmet burgers, beer fries and chicken wings, as well as a bar and night club with an eclectically-furnished interior.

“Our atmosphere is one of the most unique in Ellicottville,” said Balloons owner Mike Kerns. “We have managed to combine a minimalist, rustic, modern look with pieces of unique art and antiques that I have personally collected over a number of years.”

According to Kerns, it’s the combination of unique décor, live music and an affordable menu that bring in so many different customers.

“Our atmosphere really caters to a diverse group of guests. We have large groups and families that join us for lunch and dinner. Then the music aficionados come in to enjoy our live entertainment and finally, the younger, late-night crowd comes in to hear all of the latest tunes played by our house DJ and dance the night away on one of our two dance floors,” said Kerns.

Another draw for customers is the variety of events and specials always taking place at Balloons. Mondays mark 25 cent chicken wing night, Thirsty Thursdays offer $3 drinks from 9 p.m. until close, Fridays and Saturdays include a $5 happy hour menu from 3-6 p.m., and on Sunday, you can stop by Balloons to enjoy one of the best Bloody Marys in town.

Aside from its drink specials, Balloons’ two large bars are always fully stocked with more than 20 craft and domestic beers, which make it a go-to venue for nightlife. But it also appeals to families with its affordable menu offering everything from fresh salads to beef on weck, and gourmet burgers to chicken and waffles.

“We pride ourselves on using the freshest ingredients and creating affordable, memorable and delicious meals in-house,” Kerns said. “We are definitely renowned for our chicken wings, but our healthier options are always a big hit too.”

Another big hit with customers is the staff’s dedication to go above and beyond to provide the best possible service to customers.

“We have a really attentive and fun staff,” Kerns said. “They make all the difference and set us apart from a lot of other places.”

What also sets Balloons apart is their full calendar of live music. Their talent roster hails from both near and far, and includes some of the best local, national and international touring musicians. Local performers include the likes of Tommy Z, Robert Parker, Hayden Fogle, and other acts like Victor Wainwright, Jeff Jensen and Jason Ricci travel in from Memphis and New Orleans.

“The musical genre at Balloons is diverse,” noted Kerns. “You can find blues, funk, classic rock, folk, reggae, soul, and party bands on stage at Balloons.”

With so much variety in their musical performances, and the ski trade drawing visitors to the Ellicottville area, Balloons is consistently pulling in a variety of visitors, as well as dedicated locals.

“We have some of the best local customers that any establishment anywhere could ask for and we also have a large influx of visitors, so there is always a good mix of people from near and far,” said Kerns. “There is never a dull moment.”

For a sneak peak of the excitement, learn more about Balloons on their website: www.balloonsrestaurant.com or visit their Facebook page: @balloonsevl.