Tonawanda News

December 28, 2012

Webster staple closed

BUSINESS: Siford family cites need for retirement, building to undergo gut.

By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — A Webster Street bar that has been in operation since the 1970s has closed and the building that it occupied will be purchased by the owner of the business directly next door.

Ava’s, 88 Webster St., closed on Dec. 4, with the owner citing a need to retire. Effie Ava Siford and her son, Randy, both have been involved with the establishment for decades, and are nearing a deal to sell the property to Jay Soemann, who owns Walker Bros. & Monroe Jewelers. 

Known for its wild themed parties and the utilization of props such as hottubs or filling the bar with sand, Ava’s opened it’s doors in 1976, according to Randy Siford, who said as the years wore on he and his mother were simply looking for a break from the grind of owning a business.

”We just need to retire,” he said. “I knew it for the last six months, I just couldn’t let the cat out of the bag.”

Siford said in the bar’s early days his mother would work the day shift tending bar, while he would oversee the night hours, after going to a day job at a nearby Off Track Betting outfit.

He said his mother, Effie, purchased another bar at the same location called PG’s Lounge, then changed the name, after losing her job.

”I was bartending there already and that’s when she decided to take it over,” Siford said.

Jay Soemann, who confirmed that a deal to buy the establishment is close, said he will gut the entire building and do a thorough rehabilitation of it before renting it out. He noted that the second floor will be turned into a high-end apartment as well, though the plan will include maintaining many of the original architectural details like tin ceilings from the late-1800s structure.

”I’m going to rehab the whole building,” he said. “I’m putting on a new storefront and basically opening up the first floor and then look for a suitable tenant.”

Soemann already has purchased other buildings along Webster Street, including the one housing the Canalside Creamery, an ice cream and custard parlor.

Siford, in the meantime, said both he and his mother are happy to step away from the family business, though worries persist over where their regular customers will migrate. He added that jobs were found for several of his employees at other local watering holes.

”Our plan now is to relax for the winter,” he said. “We’re planning to go to Tennessee, where my mother is from, then come back to town. We’re going to stay in the City of Tonawanda where we live and we’re still going to stay active.”