Buffalo is getting three new restaurants from chef and restaurant consultant Richard Hamilton. He is planning restaurants for 1725 Hertel Avenue, 492 Elmwood Avenue, and 291 Ellicott Street downtown. All are expected to open this summer.
The properties which Hamilton is under contract to buy are:
• 492 Elmwood Avenue currently occupied by Toro. “Toro Cocina” will be opening in late July or early August and feature Spanish/Latin American cuisine.
• 1725 Hertel Avenue at Starin, the site of an oil-change business.
• 291 Ellicott Street near Lafayette Square.
Hamilton says the Elmwood location will feature “upscale tacos” while the Hertel and Ellicott Street locations will be more “street taco style” with large bar and outdoor components. “They will be fun and energetic,” says Hamilton noting that he is not ready to unveil the names for the non-Elmwood locations. 291 Ellicott will have a rooftop bar and patio with sweeping downtown views.
“The tortillas will be made in-house and we will be seeking to do as much farm-to-table sourcing as possible,” says Hamilton. “It may be challenging to obtain farm fresh items year round locally, but my goal is to support Western New York growers as much as possible.”
Born in Oklahoma, Hamilton got his culinary training in France, worked in and opened several restaurants, and later did restaurant development consulting worldwide. He moved to Buffalo in 2013 after being recruited by Delaware North where he become Sportservice’s vice president of food and beverage. After leaving Delaware North in December, Hamilton considered returning to the consulting field and could have moved away (see Buffalo News story for more background).
“My son fell in love with Buffalo and I decided to stay,” says Hamilton. He lives downtown on Pearl Street.
Asked if the number of new and planned downtown restaurants caused him any concern, Hamilton was quick to answer it excites him.
“I live nearby and see what’s happening downtown,” he said. “I’ll be in the thick of everything on Ellicott. I’m excited for it and all of the new restaurants will contribute something. I’m not trying to be anyone else or compete with anyone. I will fill my own niche.”
The 291 Ellicott Street property is currently owned by Roger Trettel. The former Hengerer’s Department Store warehouse is currently occupied by Uncle Bob’s Self Storage. Trettel purchased the property in 2010 and owns a trio of other Ellicott Street properties including the the circa-1875 Buehl Block at the corner of Ellicott and Broadway, a two-story office building at 285 Ellicott occupied by Tetra Tech, 290 Ellicott occupied by Uncle Bob’s Self Storage, and the former Emulso Products building at 301 Ellicott Street that is ripe for reuse.
“Buffalo is exploding,” says Hamilton, “I’m in a position to take advantage of it. I’m coming in at the right time and can do more here than in other cities.”