A building on Hertel Avenue that has been vacant for nearly ten years is in the process of changing hands. Tommy Lombardo, who owns Ristorante Lombardo with his parents, is purchasing the former Café Garangelos (1197 Hertel), across the street from the family’s longstanding restaurant.
According to Tommy, he and his wife Mary will be bringing a stepped up wine bar concept to the street – one that will feature upwards of 30 wines by the glass, highlighting a wide variety of wines, including natural selections, some “funky stuff”, and traditional crowd pleasers. Tommy says that they have been mulling over this concept for a long time, but they were not sure where they wanted to open the business.
“Buffalo has a lot of cocktail bars, craft beer places, etc., but there’s no place for wine enthusiasts looking for a wine bar that is fun and exciting,” Tommy explains. “We want to create a place where people can be educated about wines, if they want to be educated. Otherwise, they can just stop in and enjoy wines that they won’t be able to find at other places. We live in the best wine market in the entire world. That’s because of NYC – everything is available to us. We have access to so much – if a winery wants to get into the NYC market, it has to register with NY State. That means that Buffalo also has access to those same wines, for the most part. Mary and I want to change the wine culture in Buffalo. We want people to be able to geek out about wines, like they do beer, and cocktails. We want to offer people a place to celebrate wine, without being pretentious or stuffy.”
Tommy says that the location of the new wine bar concept is perfect. Not only will they be able to utilize Ristorante Lombardo for some food preparation, they will also be able to direct customers across the street, to try something new. At this point, Tommy and Mary haven’t come too far with the food concept, but Tommy does say that it will have à la carte cured meat and cheese boards, along with small sharable plates.
As for the new 1100 square foot space, the plan is to rip it down to the studs, and build it back up from scratch. That will allow the couple to create something truly unique and different, that will fit with the wine concept that they have in mind. “It’s going to be very different from Ristorante Lombardo, which has been around for 43 years,” Tommy noted. “We live and work in this neighborhood. We love being here. We’re going to build something that complements our passions and skills. It’s going to be drastically different, that much you can count on.”