Restaurateurs JJ Alfieri and Paul Tsouflidis have been reexamining the landscape of the hospitality industry ever since COVID first struck. Tsouflidis recently closed the EXPO space downtown, and Alfieri has been in the midst of reinventing his Allen Street operations to accommodate a rapidly changing and unprecedented food dynamic that is keeping everyone guessing.
Now, Alfieri and Tsouflidis have come together to open Bocce Club Pizza’s first ever franchise, in the Hertel EXPO space, which Alfieri says is gearing up to be a little “Eatily” type concept. “The owner of Bocce, Jim Pacciotti, came to us about a year ago,” explains Alfieri, who describes the chance meeting as one of the best things that’s happened – a stroke of luck. “He felt that Hertel would be the perfect place for a Bocce’s, because the families North Buffalo. Our territory is North Buffalo, Kenmore, Riverside, and Black Rock. We are extremely honored to be a part of the family’s 75 year tradition of making pizza, and the loyal brand. We will continue to things the Bocce way – I’be been eating this pizza since I was a little kid. This is the original Bocce pizza like the old timers used to make.”
Eventually the EXPO Market on Hertel will have an old school video game arcade, adding to the family allure. But that won’t happen until the COVID issue is resolved. In the meantime it’s all about casual food and drinks – customers can order a pizza and wait at Bar Della Citta, grab some clams at Steve’s Clam Bar, pick up a dozen Duke’s “Buffalo famous” barbecue smoked wings, or sample some delights at Nana’s Italian Street Fare Kitchen.
Alfieri went on to say that he and Tsouflidis are happy to be getting away from the nightlife side of the industry, to start concentrating on families, grab ‘n’ go, and deliveries. While COVID might have helped to steer this ship, the two entrepreneurs are happy to be aboard, setting sail for new frontiers. To that end, Tsouflidis is (today) reopening the former Acropolis on Elmwood as Space @ 798, which will be a marriage between the Newbury and the Acropolis concepts, both of which are his past pursuits. In this case, the former bar has been replaced by a salad bar concept, serving up ‘fast casual’ fresh foods.
There’s a lot going on in the mutually combined worlds of Alfieri and Tsouflidis. “We are working really hard to launch all of these concepts,” Alfieri says. “At the same time, this has energized us and filled us with hope.”
Get connected: Bocce Club Pizza | 1488 Hertel Avenue | (716) 862-6223 | Visit Facebook for hours of operation and menu