During a recent visit to a neighboring city, we discovered that one restaurant owner in particular has his heart set on opening in Buffalo. He's coming here on Thursday when we'll be showing him different parts of the city. In preparation for that visit, we've been compiling ideal spaces that might be a good fit. He's been to Elmwood Avenue before and really likes the vibe, but there is a limited offering when it comes to available settings. Off the Wall and Mode are available, but both are out of his price range. The Wine Thief has been leased - we hear that it's going to be a Mediterranean restaurant called Epic. Our restaurateur is looking to lease, and he needs kitchen equipment. That means that a conversion is out of the question.
I told him that Allentown would be an area that he would want to take a look at, but come to think of it, there are no spaces available now that Fiddleheads (Atmosphere @ 62), Steel Crazy (Cantina Loco) and Falafel Bar (Nadia's Taste of Soul) are filled. We'll be touring him around Hertel in hopes that we can add a couple of empty places to the list, but even spots like Bangkok Tokyo are secured (a Jamaican restaurant is moving in).
Most fringe restaurants such as Plate-Ohs (Mango'z) and Royal Pheasant (lease signed) are also spoken for. For a restaurant owner looking to lease, there doesn't appear to be a lot of options. Big or small, we're looking to put together a somewhat comprehensive list of available restaurant spaces in the city. The recent trend has been to convert non-restaurant spaces ala O3, Vera Pizzeria, Black Rock Kitchen and Bar, and that's a good thing because it's nice to see some more restaurant-zoned buildings on the market. Other than the conversion option, what's left?
If you have any suggestions, leave them in the comment section, or send me an email directly. The restaurant concepts that we are looking at are unique to Buffalo.
Photo top left clockwise: O3 recently converted an antique store on Elmwood, Cantina Loco prepares to open in Allentown, Black Rock Kitchen and Bar converted an empty space in Black Rock, Epic will open on Elmwood.