When coming up with a name for their new restaurant, Janelle Dubenion and Lucille Altieri both wanted something that was easy to remember and representational of the efficient system that they were putting into place. Presto!, located at the corner of Allen and Franklin (across from Café 59) will be the type of casual comfort food bistro that is both welcoming and magical.
I say “magical” because that is one of the words that the girls used to describe their new digs (and definitely reflects the name). “We’ve both been in the restaurant industry for a very long time,” they told me, which came as a surprise considering their young age). “We’ve been going to cafés since we were 18 years old. We felt comfortable in places like Stimulants in the University District (since closed). At the time we were vaguely familiar with each other, though we wouldn’t become friends until later. Since that time we have both been in the restaurant industry, learning the business, figuring out the dos and don’ts, and waiting for the day that we would have a chance to create our own place in Buffalo.”
Since their formative years at Stimulants, where they observed another young business owner mastering his own future, the two girls immersed themselves into respective roles in the local restaurant scene. Janelle worked at Globe Market for ten years (Downtown Manager) and Lucille spent a good chunk of that time at her father’s restaurant, Fast Frank’s in the University District (the first Greek Restaurant to offer delivery).
This past January the two got together and realized that they were both looking for something more and decided to “Throw it out into the universe to see what might happen.” They began to look around for locations, never dreaming that they would find such a high-profile corner located so close to the Medical Campus (where they want to target their deliveries). “My dad taught me that there are a lot of people out there who want good food delivered at a reasonable price,” said Lucille. “As the Medical Campus continues to grow, we want to offer delivery to the people that work there.”
Besides delivery, Presto! will accommodate plenty of customers in-house. The size of the eatery is fairly large. “We’re going to have a lounge area when you first walk in, where people can wait for their orders instead of standing around,” Janelle pointed out. “And then there’s going to be a room with a community table – that can also be used for meetings. The rest of the space will be dedicated to more traditional dining.”
As for the food, the girls have developed a mantra that they will be following – Community Through Culinary Craft. “That’s out motto,” they chimed in. “Food is a way that people can unite. We want our lunch offerings to be quick and delicious, while dinners will be more comfort food. Basically we came up with the menu according to what we want to eat, and we’ve worked in enough restaurants to know what our customers will want – we’ve developed a following over the years… people want to know when we’re going to open (shooting for May 19 FYI). This is our chance to contribute to the city where we grew up and call home. It’s a chance to give back, just as others did for us when we were struggling. We have met so many people along the way – this is going to be like Cheers without the alcohol.”
Both Lucille and Janelle love to cook. Lunches will showcase fritters, nachos, veggie chili, soup, salads, and cold and hot sandwiches. To start there will be coffee and tea – streamlined to keep it simple. Both girls are baristas, so there might be more café offerings down the road. Dinners will be slow cooked and switched up seasonally. “We’re concentrating on the food here,” they both agreed. “This is going to be a place where people come to eat with their friends and family – a place that’s comfortable, with great food and matching service. This has been a dream of ours for years, and we’ve been working towards this goal for ourselves and for the community.”
Presto! | 59 Allen Street | Buffalo NY