I was a samurai warrior in a past life.
Eastern philosophy and culture intrigue me.
Asian cuisine is one of my favorites.
When I heard that an Asian themed “bar arcade” genre restaurant was opening on Main Street, across from the Hyatt, I immediately hopped on Google and calculated how long it would take me to walk there. 12 minutes.
I met Johny Chow a couple years ago when he was running the show at Allen Burger Venture. My first impression: very cool, but more importantly, super nice. He was authentic and pure – worldly, but has that Buffalo gene that exudes gratitude and compassion.
After learning about this idea for the bar arcade, I set up a meeting with Johny to hear all about it. I had to. After all, I grew up playing Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Galaga. But I never combined playing video games with good booze and Asian food. Well, at least not in the same setting. This, to me, is a glorious trifecta.
Johny brought life and business partner Christi Allen along to our initial rendezvous. Christi, the brains behind the project, balances Johny’s artistic vision. The 3rd partner, Lorenz Wustner, was busy behind the bar at ABV and couldn’t attend. We caught up with Lorenz a little later in the evening- after about four drinks and three shots to be exact. For years, Lorenz has been a staple bartender in the Buffalo bar scene.
It turns out that after setting out on an exhaustive search for a space, it took developer Roger Trettel to present the perfect setup. Trettel is combining three adjacent buildings in the 500 block of Main Street into a single facility with four first-floor commercial spaces and eight live-work apartments on the three upper floors. This in itself is exciting news. I love this area of Main Street. Awesome energy, but I feel lacks the edgy factor that the Misuta Chow’s team will bring to the table.
The partners are working with Stieglitz Snyder Architecture and Tommaso Briatico Architects to change the feel of the 500 block – 521 Main Street to be exact. Misuta Chow’s, a totally unique concept to Buffalo, will eventually occupy three floors – the first two should open later this year. Plans for a third floor Rabbit’s Foot Club (a private club) are in the works. The team is still working on the details, but from what they have shared, it’s going to be the real deal… something that Buffalo has not seen since its heyday.
In order to elevate the experience, Christi (formerly in the film business) will be tapping her resources in Los Angeles and New York to form a production design team that intends to recreate a Tokyo City look and feel for the first two floors. The customer will be temporarily transported into a different world. Christi exclaimed, “Misuta Chow’s will be an eclectic energy of old school meets new school Japan, pulling elements from Tokyo City’s Yokocho Alley to the new beyond modern futuristic robot bar. Misuta Chow’s is slated to be the next trendsetting brand to launch in Western New York.”
The first floor of the establishment will house the restaurant/bar. Consulting Executive Chef Dunbar Berdine, one of Buffalo’s finest, is developing a sexy asian street food menu with a soulful twist. Misuta Chow’s will offer custom bento boxes available for restaurant dining, to-go, or delivery for lunch and dinner. Bento combination choices will consist of organic vegetables, egg, rice, noodles and dumplings; banh mi sandwiches with braised or poached proteins and vegetables; steamer baskets with nikoman dumplings, potstickers and edamame; custom built lettuce wraps with a variety of protein and vegetable combinations to choose from. All locally sourced, organic and hormone free when possible. The bar will offer an extensive local and international beer menu, classic cocktails, extensive whisky, bourbon and sake selections as well as sake infused specialty drinks and cold pressed coffee on tap. Retro bottled sodas such as Orange Crush, Dr. Pepper, TaB, and cream soda will also be available.
Misuta Chow’s Game Room (the entire second floor) will feature dozens of classic 80’s arcade games (Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Rampage, Donkey Kong and Centipede to name a few), multiple pinball machines, two side by side skeeball lanes and two pool tables. The walls will feature murals created and installed by local and international street artists and splashed with neon lighting. I found it fascinating that they will be keeping seconds on hand, so when a game goes down, another one will replace it. To keep the games operating optimally, they have retained the services of a game tech who will be tending to the game stock.
Misuta Chow’s has a lot going for it. The owners are masters of their domains, and have a ton of bar and restaurant experience. Johny was once the manager of the The Viper Room in LA. He’s also a raging rockstar who travels the globe playing bass for a heralded band by the name of Stone Sour (touring with Korn this summer). Christi has been busy opening a number of Mike Shatzel’s restaurants, including ABV, Colter Bay and The Terrace. She has cut her teeth in the restaurant industry, as well as the film industry. She will be bringing both elements together, to help create a bold and bizarro dream that has been building up in Johny’s head – a dream that will soon be unleashed unto Buffalo.
- Johny’s experience traveling the world five times over scoping out the hottest bars and restaurants…
- Christi’s logistical and budgeting experience in the entertainment and hospitality markets for over two+ decades…
- Lorenz’s 25+ background with the front and back of the house…
… and a completely off the wall concept, all bode well for this fascinating restaurant concept. I have a feeling that this is going to be a real game changer for Buffalo. Often times, restaurant and bar owners don’t want to go too far out on limb, because they are afraid that locals won’t ‘get it’. Well, this gang is taking that limb and smashing it to pieces, leaving us with a concept that could work in LA, Tokyo, and most certainly Buffalo.