It’s no secret that Buffalo has some incredible eats. When I moved here in 2018, I made it my personal duty to hunt down the best local haunts the city had to offer. It turns out the possibilities were endless; I still have a list of places I’ve yet to try. One restaurant that opened in my neighborhood over the spring, that I ran to the second it opened was Mister Sizzle’s. The restaurant’s wild popularity (they’ve got over 10k followers on Instagram!) is worth all the hype, partially due to their food menu, extensive milkshake list (I am partial to the Vanilla PB), and the quick comfort food done right.
Mister Sizzle’s, located on Buffalo’s West Side at 346 Connecticut Street, offers up a hip atmosphere that the neighborhood craves, with exposed brick and fluorescent signage, coupled with a food menu that is affordable and delicious. The husband and wife ownership team of Casey and Chris Casas knew it would be something special – it is their passion for Buffalo and the food that comes through with every bite. I wanted to get to know them and their concept a little more, so I reached out. The most important question came first:
Lauren: Why the West Side of all places to settle in Buffalo?
Casey: My family comes from the West Side. My grandparents lived on Fargo and owned the Sausage Factory on Grant Street. We also had the opportunity to open a restaurant kitty-corner to where we are now- but due to covid, those plans are on hold. We saw Perks had closed its doors, we were hungry, so we scoped out the space- fell in love- and went to work. The last employer Chris & I had really did a number on us. It flipped us on our heads and made the momentum and drive for Mister Sizzle’s that much more important to us. It pushed us in ways we hadn’t imagined.
Lauren: Even more important than the location they decided on, was the menu. If you have visited Mister Sizzle’s, then you know it has been well thought out and has everything you need for your burger craving, including multiple fry options, milkshakes, and a full cocktail bar – there’s a drink I still dream about called the “Moo-hattan,” made with malt milk bourbon, sweet vermouth, and topped with a cherry. It is no surprise that they took inspiration from their childhood and other burgers they love…
Casey: Chris and I really wanted a better fast food option. We took something from every place we worked. Our menu and style of service is a spin-off of every place we’ve ever been. All those greasy burgers you’d eat drunk in the backseat of your friend’s car, all those happy meals that were peppered throughout your childhood, those cookouts in the summer- that’s Mister Sizzles. We wanted fun, easy, approachable, and something that connects people to the food.
Lauren: It is hard to narrow down a favorite menu item at Mister Sizzle’s. I am such a super fan of the restaurant that multiple friends have asked me for recommendations before their first time trying it. It’s no surprise to me that their chicken sandwiches are so popular–their “I Love Honey” fried chicken sandwich is better than some I’ve had in Nashville!
Casey: We have a ton of crazy popular burgers and some people will argue our fried chicken sandwiches are even better. But honestly- I think the most popular thing to do is make your own burger. People take our burgers and add crazy special instructions. The world is your oyster… errr burger.
Lauren: Dining out is an experience unto itself, and even though fine tuning the food menu was the most pressing part of the opening, Casey and Chris knew that they needed to attract customers with a comfortable, hip atmosphere. Mister Sizzle’s might be a burger joint, but it feels like a restaurant in any chic city, with its exposed brick and vibrant colors. Designing a space that made their customers feel at home was key.
Casey: We wanted to be the “living room” of the city. We have cool music playing, most of the people sitting at the bar are people that work in the industry- and those are quite literally the most interesting people you will ever meet. Bartenders, servers, kitchen staff- they are always a good time and guaranteed to have the best stories.
We designed the restaurant to be a cool place for families- keeping the bar separate but still close enough that you can feel the energy. We also created a bar that is not just meant for people boozing. Everyone is welcome. We created a space that’s sole purpose is to be inclusive, and I think we accomplished that.
Lauren: Opening a restaurant is hard enough, but doing so in the middle of a global pandemic threw a whole new list of challenges for Casey and Chris. They knew they had to nail it with attention to detail as they constructed the space and curated the menu. That’s not to say the evolution of the restaurant wasn’t a tough and labor-intensive process. Throughout it all, they found that things they were worried about (hiring and keeping staff in an industry where people are quitting left and right) was one of the easiest parts of the entire process
Casey: Construction was absolutely soul-sucking. The lack of guidance from the State was extremely challenging. But we got through it. We always saw the light at the end of the tunnel- and we had some phenomenal managers we hired that were there to help along the way. We could not have done it without any of them.
Aside from that, we really didn’t have any obstacles. It was a little nerve-racking when we started the hiring process for our hourly employees. I kept hearing from all angles how “no one wants to work” and how impossible it is to hire people- and honestly that just was not the case for us. We hired almost 20 people, most of which are still with us- and it was a total breeze. We stood on this platform of changing the narrative in the industry. Being overworked and underpaid is a thing of the past. Walking into work, only to be harassed and demeaned by your boss can’t continue to be the norm. The only way this industry and the people that are in this industry see change is if we as employees and employers stop accepting that as normal behavior and acceptable behavior. We provide a healthy work environment, we pay well, and we treat our staff like they deserve to be treated. They know we appreciate them every single time they walk in the door. And they appreciate us.
Lauren: Chris and Casey are both proud Buffalonians. They use that hometown pride to find inspiration for their restaurant and know how much people in Buffalo love their town and their food. Inside the restaurant, there is even a fluorescent sign that spells out their slogan, and motto: “Buffalo Since Always.” It’s the perfect spot to enjoy your hamburger… and snap a photo for Instagram (like I did) while you’re at it.
Without their Buffalo roots, there would be no Mister Sizzle’s.
Casey: Chris and I are both from Buffalo and are proud of it- and Buffalo supports Buffalo. It’s a unique city that has a ton to offer, and a crazy amount of local pride. Even if you’re not born in Buffalo, and you’re just visiting- it feels like home. That’s something to be proud of. Our city really is the City of Good Neighbors. Plus the Bills going to the Super Bowl. Go Bills!
Lauren: Both Casey and Chris see their restaurant evolving into more locations in the future, possibly in the suburbs. They want to bring that Mister Sizzle’s fun vibe – the same environment they have created on the West Side – to the masses any way that they can. They know that Buffalo has some incredible food even though it might not get the credit it deserves compared to other metropolitan cities across the country.
Casey: Buffalo doesn’t see enough national action when it comes to food recognition. Our city is FILLED with some next-level insanely good chefs, bartenders, bar programs, sommeliers. We have every type of cuisine you could think of- and the best part, almost all locally owned. We have young entrepreneurs opening coffee shops, chefs like Ed Forrester turning the culinary world on their heads (Waxlight has an amazing beverage program run by 3 of the top people in our industry). Then you have places like Marble & Rye or Hydraulic Hearth whose bar programs are totally insane. Look at Luck Day’s whiskey collection- this stuff is all at our fingertips.
Lauren: At the end of the day when the last burger has been flipped, Casey and Chris know they are doing something new and exciting in the city. They took a simple concept everyone loves (even vegetarians–they’ve got veggie options too!) like a burger and fries and evolved it into a concept. They took your favorite fast food place and turned the volume way up. What came out of that mix is a great new restaurant in a hip West Side neighborhood that I call home. I am always proud to be a Buffalonian, but speaking to Casey and Chris instilled why I love this town in the first place: it’s the people that are doing their part to make the city a better place that make it so great. Let’s all do our part to keep that Buffalove coming.
Mister Sizzle’s offers online ordering for a fast and safe pickup. You can view their full menu and hours here: mistersizzles.com/menu