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Bartending School Concocting Burger King Reuse Project

A drab, long-vacant former Burger King in the suddenly hot 500 block of Main Street may have a mixed-use future.  According to Business First, WNY School of Bartending is looking to buy the building and relocate its programs from Clarence to the downtown location.  The 5,865 sq.ft. building, built in 1978 with seating for 140, is owned by a New Jersey-based corporation. 

James Fink has the scoop:

The owners of the Western New York School of Bartending, a privately-run trade school, are negotiating with the New Jersey-based investment group that owns the 5,865-square-foot building at 495 Main St.

“We are way past the tire-kicking stage,” said Jason Briandi, the school’s operations manager. “I have a very good feeling that we could have a deal done in the next 10 or 14 days.”

If the deal comes together, Briandi said the plan is to move his company’s bartending school from its current location on Main Street in Clarence to downtown Buffalo. The bartending school would be expanded into a culinary arts center with a full-scale restaurant as a training center for its students.

A master barber program is also in the planning stages.

Briandi said his company has already applied to the New York State Education Department for licensing and certification to run both schools. The state has given pre-approval with formal approval expected in the next few weeks.

Besides running its bartending school, Western New York School of Bartending also operates a blackjack dealer training program that will begin its first class in August. The bartending school has between 225 and 235 students enrolled throughout the year. Each 40-hour session is spread over a two-week period.

The two-story brick cube has been empty since Burger King closed in September 1998.  Downtown lost several other fast food restaurants at about the same time including an Arby’s at Main and Genesee, a nearby Wendy’s, and two McDonald’s- one across from Burger King and one in the Theater District.  The fast food exodus from downtown accelerated after the closing of AM&A’s/BonTon, LL Bergers and Sibley’s. 

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