A Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued for The Liberty Hound Restaurant at Canalside, by Buffalo Naval Park Committee, Inc. (Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park).
It was back in 2011 when we first announced that an operator had been identified to run the bar and restaurant. I recall that there wasn’t much interest in the site. It was restaurateur Jason Davidson who submitted a proposal that secured the previously unoccupied space, and built it out as a restaurant. Davidson was later joined by restaurateur Mike Shatzel. Since that time, the two have successfully taken the Liberty Hound concept to a year round waterfront destination, which is both good and bad. It’s good because they worked hard to create a concept that would stand the test of time. It’s bad because a new RFP has now been issued, which means that another proposal by a different operator might be selected.
Yes, I am aware of the process, and while this is standard procedure, I feel that there should be more to this process than what is at hand. For example, Sinatra & Co. has been named South Aud Block developer. That means that there are, fingers crossed, a number of new opportunities at hand to establish retail and restaurant-oriented businesses at Canalside, custom built for the needs of operators. I understand that there is already interest in the Liberty Hound location, aside from the current operators. I am also aware that if an operator was to approach Sinatra & Co., to be part of the new Heritage Point project, the timing is perfect because the developer is on the hunt for retailers and restaurateurs.
The restaurant landscape is finally being played out at Canalside and The Cobblestone District. With Pegula Sports and Entertainment’s 716 and The Draft Room, Labatt Brew House, Panorama on Seven, Pizza Plant, etc. There are finally a few options within close proximity to the Erie Canal Terminus. And Rich Products’ Be Our Guest recently signed a five year contract with Explore & More to run their café.
My hope is that the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) works with the Buffalo Naval Park Committee to ensure that a successful restaurant such as Liberty Hound is not simply displaced because another operator is willing to pay more – especially because Liberty Hound did its part to make the site a viable year round destination. If Liberty Hound is displaced, I hope that Sinatra, or another developer, is waiting in the wings to provide them with a new home at Canalside.