Keeping up with restaurateur Nick Pitillo, owner of catering company Occasions by Osteria, could be a full time job. Between his restaurants, the expansions, his Stock the Freezer initiative, and events like the Meatball Street Brawl, the guy is always up to something. And this time, he’s taking his entrepreneurial enterprises to a whole other level… a level that is 36 floors high!
Pitillo is teaming up with Douglas Development at Seneca One, to build out an event and catering facility at the Tower, which promises to be unlike anything else in the city. After all, it’s hard to compete with views from atop downtown’s tallest building.
“It all started when we began catering at the building,” explained Pitillo. “Then we started hosting some small gatherings on the 36th floor, at the same time when the Bluejays were playing down below. It was a big hit with guests – we started calling it The Sunset Room (there is not an official name yet), even though it was basically a big empty room at the time. Now, we’re knocking down walls and putting floors down. We’re also building a kitchen right off the service elevator, which means that we can just send the food right up the elevator and it will be fresh and hot. It’s actually the perfect scenario. There’s room to expand as we go too – I think that it’s going to be a big hit with weddings, corporate events, luncheons, and we’re already planning a weekly dinner series. We just finalized the menu, so we’re really moving fast on this.”
Pitillo told me that he has no interest in building out an à la carte restaurant, because of the headaches associated with it, but he’s already got plenty of tricks up his sleeves to get as many people to the top of the tower as possible, with ongoing functions and event series. He told me that he’s also interested in seeing if the 38th floor (top floor) would be viable down the road, which is where a restaurant once operated within the building* – it would be possible to potentially build a kitchen up there… let’s see where this all goes. That would be the “cat’s meow,” according to Pitillo. “I’m a big fan of Jemal’s program,” he told me. “His team is doing great things for the city, and there are a lot of opportunities playing out. When people were up on the 36th floor during last summer’s Jays’ season, they were blown away. And with everything else going on in the building, it makes sense. We’ve already been catering for Jemal, and it’s been working out well. There are endless opportunties.”
Pitillo said that the idea to pursue the Tower began when the Bluejays had just come to town for the first time. He and his buddy were downtown and they were standing in-between the baseball field and the Tower. “I looked at the brilliant lights over the field, and then looked up a the Tower, and said, ‘That’s where we need to be.’ I called Douglas that night… in the middle of the night [laughing], and told him that I wanted to be at the top of the Tower, and he liked the idea,” said Pitillo. “Now that we’ve got the green light, we’re going to blow people away. We’re going to pack the program and get everyone up there – to the event space. My goal is for it to be the number one event space in Buffalo. We can start with 200 people at a time, and if demand warrants, we will build out from there. If we had signed up for the space just a little bit earlier, we could have been open for Mother’s Day. Now, we anticipate a full launch by mid-May.”
*According to a reader who sent an email along, the restaurant was aptly called The 38th Floor Restaurant. “It was open during the day for lunch to the general public,” she said. “In the evenings it was catering; weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, etc.”