There’s a sign in the window of The Landing Strip, a neon number boldly advertising Land Shark Lager. In spite of this, you won’t find it on tap or in a bottle — when pressed, the bartender admitted it was a bit of a tease, but confessed he liked the way the sign looked, which I couldn’t fault him for. That exchange seemed to sum up The Landing Strip quite aptly; there’s no pretense to be found and the beer list holds no surprises, but the bartenders were both engagingly amiable. Despite it being my first visit, my concerns that I’d stick out as a stranger on a slow Monday night proved totally unfounded.
The décor is somewhat haphazard, largely falling into either “tropical,” “aviation” or “beer,” but in no way bound to these guidelines; the bathroom features, for no discernible reason, a map of the continental United States (perhaps thinking the juxtaposition would be too jarring, the ownership helpfully surrounded it with some safe, yet familiar beer posters). The place isn’t especially big, but comfortably accommodates the essentials — pool tables, jukebox and TV.
It’s a damned friendly place — over the course of the night I discussed the risks of motorcycling with a genial firefighter, conversed with a 20-something who convinced me to try her favorite beer (Stella Artois, which proved much less palatable than our discourse) and with a mustachioed man who burned me with a Beatles trivia question, then proceeded to lay out an agreeable playlist of their finest works. One bartender shared with me her outlook on March Madness, the other detailed his affection for the fine art of horse racing and waxed philosophical on Buffalo’s political climate. On a Monday night where I constituted fully ten percent of the clientele, I never felt out of place or starved for conversation. That and with pitchers for $7.50 — what else could you ask for in a watering hole?