Since they initially opened in Blasdell in 2014, I have had nothing but top notch experiences at Black Iron Bystro. From the ambiance to the food to the drinks, chef/owner Bryan Mecozzi and his team have consistently set the bar high.
Now, after 7 years in its original location, Black Iron Bystro is picking up and heading to Kenmore. I had mixed emotions when I first heard this news. The amount of painstaking time that it took to piece together the restaurant on South Park was nothing short of impressive. The attention to detail was always above and beyond. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think that Mecozzi’s move to Kenmore would be a good fit, due to the nature of the family-friendly village, complete with a homegrown farmers’ market.
Mecozzi told me that the biggest factor in his decision to move was that he lives in the Town of Tonawanda, and the Kenmore location is five minutes from his house. He also said that a lot of his customers come from the city, so it’s a more convenient location for them as well. He said that the decision to sell the family-owned building and turnkey business (currently available) was the only real option, since the plan was to purchase the Kenmore building (3065 Delaware Avenue in the Village of Kenmore) – the sale would allow the family to make the required investments into the space.
At this point, Mecozzi has fully gutted the interior of what was formerly Desalvo’s Meats & Eats (Hoelscher’s Meats before that). This will allow him to start fresh – to create the ideal setting for his new venture. While the new location is slightly smaller, Mecozzi plans on optimizing the floorplan so that it will still be spacious. He’s also ensuring that the “flow” is optimal. For example, there will be a small hallway/entranceway, where guests can get situated before they enter into the dining experience. The hallway will be a place to duck out of the rain, wait for friends, make a phone call, and even go to the powder room upon entering and exiting Black Iron Bystro.
“It’s the little things like that that will lend to a better experience, ” Mecozzi told me. “I learned a lot over the years at the Blasdell location. Since the new restaurant is a bit smaller, I had to make sure that I addressed certain issues early on in the design and build-out process. It’s still an open atmosphere concept. I’m fine-tuning it to make it more efficient.”
Once open, Black Iron Bystro will be run in ways that are somewhat new to him, and new to many of his customers. From Wednesday to Saturday, there will be walk-ins for happy hour, leading up to dinner service at 7pm. The happy hour setting will feature a bar program and small plates (based on the meals being served for the dinner courses). Once 7pm rolls around, the restaurant will transition into a “dinner club” with a chef tasting menu, where guests will be served four courses paired with four cocktails. The only switcheroo will be on Saturdays, when the pre-dinner happy hour will be dedicated to cocktail classes and other special events, designed to teach customers about the various spirits and how to make killer cocktails. During the classes, Mecozzi will be in the kitchen whipping up some “snacks” to pair with the drinks. He told me that he’s got some surprises in store, that he will start to reveal in weeks to come.
More than anything, Mecozzi wants to introduce fresh ideas to keep Black Iron Bystro buzzing right along, with once-a-month wine dinners, a weekly rotating seasonal menu, the happy hours, the dinner club concept, and interactive mixologist sessions.
While Mecozzi builds out the new location, and finetunes the operational details, he’s still operating the Blasdell location (most likely throughout the summer). At that location, he is currently testing out dinner club concept that he is putting in place at his new location. So if you want to get a “sneak peak” of what’s in store for Kenmore, be sure to make a reservation for a table.
“We’re running a special right now, where it’s all inclusive, with no servers,” Mecozzi told me. “I’m handling everything – the four course meal with paired cocktails – with my sous chef and a bartender. It’s a 7pm seating, on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s an intimate dining experience that will give people a sense of the direction that we are going.”
Lead image: Monster walk-in cooler/freezer is being dismantled and removed from the building