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Making WAVES in Buffalo

A new restaurant is being introduced at the former Papaya location on Chippewa. Michael Nguyen, owner of super successful Phở Lantern, is taking the helm of an ambitious dining concept that he is calling WAVES. Michael, along with his “uncle Philip” will be running with a culinary theme based on Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisine. No, that’s not the ambitious part. What will truly set WAVES apart from the rest of the ‘school’ is the technological aspect. Customers will order their selections on a digital menu tablet, which will signal the kitchen staff immediately that an order has been placed. Not only is that an unusual dining element (for Buffalo), the restaurant is also being developed around an “all you can eat” format, which Michael is banking will be very popular with fans of this type of cuisine. He stressed that this is not a food buffet, rather it is designed for customers to relax, and order as they go, sampling a variety of culinary delights (including sushi), while enjoying the calming atmosphere. For those who prefer to order regular main entrées, they can do that as well. 

In order to accommodate the flood of orders coming into the kitchen, Michael says that he will have no fewer than 10 chefs on the line at any given time. Now, that’s a tall order for an establishment that will be open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. But if anyone can pull this off, it’s Michael, who has already proved his abilities at Phở Lantern on Niagara Street.

As for the aesthetic vibe, WAVES will have an oceanic theme, of course. The entire restaurant will be a tranquil blue, with large screen TVs on the back wall playing waves in motion and zen-like imagery. The bar will be located in the same location, which was always challenging to navigate for customers and wait staff. In order to ease the bar flow, Michael is adding large folding doors that open up to the patio, which is a real no brainer. The more open atmosphere will help to alleviate the bottleneck that was always a nuisance at Papaya. Food will also be served at the bar, to accommodate overflow from the dining room.

As for customers who prefer take-out, there will be a self ordering kiosk at WAVES, where they can enter their selections without even interacting with a server. Payments can also be made on the automated devices, which will allow customers to pay for their meals and leave whenever they want. Sometimes, hanging around for a server who feels that his or her job is done before the customer cashes out can be a real hassle, and even a buzzkill if it’s an extended period of time.

If everything goes according to plan, WAVES will be open around June-July, which again, is an ambitious timeline. But Michael is not new to the business, and feels that he’s got a good upper hand on the design and buildout. Personally, I’m super excited because I’m already a big fan of Phở Lantern, and can’t wait to see firsthand this brave new undertaking from a guy who looks at a challenges as a signal that he’s heading in the right direction.

WAVES | 118 W Chippewa Street | Buffalo, New York 14202 |716-844-8335 | Facebook

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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