As we all know, The Hotel Lafayette has a lot going for it these days (see here). We’ve seen a complete turnaround for a building that many people wrote off for many years. I still remember walking into the building on a lark a few years back, to see just how downtrodden it had become, and I’ll never forget the sad state of the flophouse and the utter despair that filled the walls.
Today there is a much different picture being painted inside the hotel. The building is alive with businesses and people once again, much as it was during past glory days. It seems as if every month or two there is yet another venture opening, or an existing retailer or restaurant creating some sort of buzz.
While a number of the businesses have already carved out a niche for themselves, there is a sleeping giant that is about to be awoken. As the first floor of the building has realized its full potential, the lower level of the hotel has been steadily stirring as well.
Butterwood is the last piece of the Hotel @ The Lafayette puzzle to be placed. As owner Claire Bacon puts it, “Butterwood is a European style bakery specializing in high end retail, wedding cakes and pastries.” Claire purchased the specialty dessert business back in 2009, and it wasn’t long before she realized that she was running out of room and looking to expand. It just so happened that at the time, developer Rocco Termini was looking for a pastry shop that specialized in wedding cakes. The two parties turned out to be a match made in heaven, and today Claire is busy putting the final touches on the restaurant and retail side of the operation while currently running a full fledged wholesale dessert business out of the 8500 square foot space within the hotel. Those desserts, 150 kinds all total, are shipped all over the Eastern Seaboard and the Mid-Atlantic.
Until just a short while ago I wasn’t aware of just how extensive Butterwood’s business model was. When Claire realized the massive size of the hotel space, and the opportunity for amenities such as a cake consultation room and giant walk-in coolers, she began to think big… really big. “For the first time we’re baking bread,” she told me. “We will be providing the bread for all of the restaurant components within the hotel. We might also look for other accounts outside of the hotel, but for now we are concentrating on the building. We’ve also installed a pizza oven where customers will be able to sit at the [Roman style pizza] bar and eat and drink. The bakery is going to provide the dough for the artisanal pizzas… and the bread for the sandwiches. The food served in the restaurant will be a nod to the bakery. Instead of bar snacks being served at the retro tufted leather cocktail bar we’re going to put out small sweet and savory pastries. There will be a full scale world fusion restaurant offering up everything from Asian to Latin American cuisines. The restaurant will be providing full service breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. We are also installing a smoothing and coffee bar. There’s really no other place like this.”
For convenience, there are two entrances to Butterwoods – one from the inside of the hotel and one from Clinton Street. Once finished, the interior is going to be very impressive. While retaining much of the architectural detail from the old speakeasy, such as the leaded glass windows (great move) and the original moldings, Butterwood is installing beautiful banquette seating that will play off the matching retro cocktail and pizza bars. There is plenty of natural light during the day, and at night the transformation into a classically-lit eatery will be dramatic. Butterwood will be offering valet parking as well as street side drop-offs.
Butterwood is planning to be open as early as September. Upon opening, Buffalonians will be treated to untold edible delights served up in an atmosphere that could only be found in a place such as the historic Hotel Lafayette. The fact that the operation will be open day and night, seven days a week, will certainly add needed life to downtown. The business is easily accessible by Metro Rail or the 90 via the 33. Combined with all of the rest of the hustle and bustle of the hotel, Butterwood is sure to be a sensation. Personally, I can’t wait to try one of their Roman style artisanal pizzas… I still can’t believe that it was not that long ago that the historic hotel was a flophouse. We’ve come a long way since then!
391 Washington Street
Buffalo, New York 14203