by Barbara Kozlowski

Tips Up Café dates back to the late 1800s and has gone through many iterations in its lifetime. During the early 1900s, the building housed a lighting and heating store and after that a tin shop. Some years later, it served as a one-room schoolhouse.


Finally, with the opening of Detman’s it became a restaurant. However, at that time, no alcoholic beverages were served. Detman’s was sold and the storefront became McCadden’s  saloon for almost 20 years.


Herb and Hazel Heary owned it next and for about four years, it was known as Herby’s Derby until the bar was sold to Ken and Judy Roush in December 1979. They named it Tips Up Café and opened their doors in February 1980. It is presently run as a restaurant and bar. An extensive renovation in May of 1989 added a larger bar and an upstairs dining/banquet room. In 2007, another considerable renovation was completed in the upstairs dining room.


Ken, a native of Cattaraugus, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., in 1973 with an associate’s degree. He then worked as a cook and/or manager of various restaurants in the Buffalo area. At that time, Judy, a Buffalo native, was co-managing a small bar in Clarence. They relocated to Massachusetts where Ken managed a large, elegant restaurant and Judy tended bar in the 125-seat nightclub. With their combined interest and knowledge in the food and beverage industry, and after looking at many restaurants and bars, they settled here in Ellicottville.


Tips Up’s menu offers a varied selection from pizza and Italian dishes to gourmet specials like steak Diane and seafood marinara. Dinners include either a homemade soup or house salad with a choice of four fantastic, homemade dressings – their Greek and sesame are my favorites, but I also enjoy their pesto and herbal Italian – a chef’s choice of a side plus fresh-baked bread and butter.


Diners can choose from a delicious selection of appetizers including crab-stuffed mushrooms, baked escargot and several items in between. Dinner fare includes combination dinners like steak and seafood, ribs and chicken, or beef and bird. You can also enjoy Italian entrees like manicotti (my go-to dish), lasagna, eggplant roulade, and spaghetti with meatballs or sausage. Sea fare includes shrimp dishes, lobster and haddock.


House favorites include rack of lamb, ribs, steaks and their famous orange-whiskey chicken. For lighter fare, order a dinner salad or one of their tasty sandwiches. Try their traditional pizza with toppings or my favorite – pesto pizza.


A menu for young children is also available featuring mac and cheese, barbecue chicken, chicken fingers, spaghetti, ravioli and manicotti. Be sure to check out “Ken’s Creations” on their daily feature board!


Tips Up offers a comprehensive choice of bottled and draft beers plus a variety of cocktails to please anyone’s tastes. Wines are offered by the glass, half and full carafes, and full bottles. Wine choices include Champagnes and sparkling wines, white, blush and red wines from New York State, California, Washington, Europe, South America, Australia and South Africa.


Tips Up Café is located in the business district at 32 Washington St. and offers a banquet facility that accommodates 20–65 guests. Be sure to stop by and enjoy one of their wonderful meals. Bon appetit!

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