Restaurateur Tucker Curtain, owner and operator of Dug’s Dive, is looking for a new spot on the waterfront. Dug’s Dive will be open throughout the summer at the Small Boat Harbor (Outer Harbor), but then will be on the hunt for new digs.
It will be up to Safe Harbor Development LLC out of Knoxville, the Small Boat Harbor’s newest operator, to find a replacement for Dug’s Dive. Safe Harbor was granted a 25-year lease after winning a bid from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to operate within the State Park. The Small Boat Harbor will be the beneficiary of a $10 million upgrade over the next five years, according to a Buffalo News report. Those improvements will include upgrades to the restaurant, the harbor slips, etc.
In the meantime, Tucker doesn’t want to give up on the waterfront. He’s sold on the waterfront and will continue to have a hand in it, one way or another. “I ran Dug’s Dive for nine years, during three leases,” says Tucker. “I always wanted to expand and improve the restaurant, but was never given the appropriate facilities to do so. I am hopeful that great things will happen down here… I just want to be a part of something different. I am of the belief that the Outer Harbor should be cleaned up and capped, and that having free and inexpensive access to the lake is imperative for everyone. There should be incubator space for small businesses, and plenty of green space, boating opportunities, bike trails, fishing areas, and places for people to interact with the water.” Yesterday’s news of the extension of the Greenbelt public pathway along the Outer Harbor certainly fits with this vision, though there are those who feel that developers are desperate to get their hands on key parcels of land.
According to Tucker, he was offered a short term extension lease (one year), but declined, as he was looking for a longterm plan. He alluded to the boating and restaurant costs that will be on the rise, as operational enhancements to the property will warrant increases from slip fees to food costs. He also made it clear that the land should not be jeopardized by developers with visions of grandeur. “The Outer Harbor is not Canalside,” states Tucker. “This city has the chance to do something really unique that will draw people to the waterfront all summer long, and winter for that matter. I can imagine people vacationing in Buffalo just to take advantage of the Outer Harbor, the fresh water… this is an experience that you just can’t get in many places. This is a travel destination – it’s not a place for residential and big buildings.”
Since Tucker will be operating Dug’s Dive through 2015, he has some time to plan his future move. At the same time, he is reaching out the community for ideas. Where should Dug’s Dive relocate along the water? If you have any ideas, be sure to share them on the Dug’s Dive Facebook Page, or #findnewdigsfordugs.