Well-known Buffalo chef Mike Andrzejewski will launch his newest restaurant on Monday, in partnership with prominent developer Rocco Termini, as Tappo Restaurant opens its doors at 338 Ellicott St., between Huron and Mohawk streets.
The new Italian restaurant is in the 4,400-square-foot former Horton Coffee Co. building. The historic single-story building, constructed in 1905 and vacant for 20 years, will be wholly occupied by the restaurant, which will include a rooftop patio.
Andrzejewski co-owns the restaurant with Termini, who has led the charge in historic renovation projects in Buffalo, including the Hotel @ the Lafayette, where Andrzejewski also operates Mike A’s at the Lafayette. Andrzejewski also operates SeaBar downtown and a Mexican restaurant, Cantina Loco, in Allentown.
Termini and Andrzejewski saved the Horton building from near-collapse after winning tax breaks from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency in August 2001.
Along with another restaurant conversion on Ellicott, Termini got $131,000 in breaks for $800,000 in total investment, but only after the ECIDA initially balked at supporting the two projects because they involved restaurants, which critics say don’t deserve tax breaks.
“So even though the IDA saved a historic building, it acts as a catalyst for the rest of the neighborhood, and the IDA has to realize that they’re used as a catalyst, especially when it comes to downtown,” Termini said.
Meanwhile, Iskalo Development Co. is still marketing the former Howard Shoes and Waldorf building at 5 E. Huron St., for re-use as a restaurant. Executive Vice President David Chiazza said the developer has been promoting the property since Iskalo bought it and has had some discussions with potential users in response to inquiries, but it remains vacant with no decisions to announce.
Iskalo, which also owns the Electric Tower, has also been contemplating options for a small amount of space at 337 Ellicott St., which is a former Verizon Communications fleet maintenance and warehouse facility, with a small service bay. Iskalo, which bought the property over a year ago, converted the warehouse space into indoor parking for the Electric Tower after making some improvements but is “trying to figure out what to do with the remainder of the space,” Chiazza said.
Options could include putting apartments on the second floor or marketing the space for back-office operations, he said, but not a restaurant. The company has fielded some inquiries “from folks who want to have a presence downtown,” but there’s “nothing that’s ready to go yet.”
Also, sources say a group that calls itself “The Big Ditch” has been looking around the downtown area to establish a small-production craft brewery, possibly including a tasting room but not a brew pub. Chiazza confirmed that the group looked at 337 Ellicott among other sites, but there’s been no decision.