The Sonoma Grille, the restaurant that sits alongside the Lord Amherst Hotel on Main Street in Snyder, will permanently close Saturday night after 10 years in business, the restaurant’s operator and its new landlord said Wednesday.
The restaurant will “undergo extensive renovations” and reopen under a new name and concept, according to a joint news release from Iskalo Development Corp. and Sonoma, which is owned by restaurateur and businessman Michael R. Militello.
The restaurant is next to the site of the planned new Hyatt Place Hotel, now under construction.
David Chiazza, executive vice president of Iskalo, said the closing of Sonoma had been expected as part of the extensive renovations and the construction activity next door for the Hyatt. “The plan was to keep the restaurant open for the peak summer season of the Lord Amherst Hotel, which will be winding down over the next few weeks,” he said. The Lord Amherst also is being completely renovated.
Militello said the restaurant stopped selling gift cards and booking parties late last year in anticipation of closing as soon as June. Gift cards can still be redeemed after Aug. 31 at the Bijou Grille on Main Street in Buffalo or Giancarlo’s at the Tony Walker Plaza in Amherst.
Iskalo, which has redeveloped the Electric Tower in downtown Buffalo, purchased the Lord Amherst property from the original owners in October 2011 with plans to renovate the 90-room historic hotel into an “upper mid-scale” independent hotel with upgraded features and amenities.
Iskalo then announced plans to build a new 137-room, six-story Hyatt Place nearby on 3.3 acres of what it now calls the Lord Amherst Hospitality Campus. That “select-service” hotel would be set back from Main Street, below the street level, but has faced tremendous opposition from residents nearby.
The restaurant building has been a part of the Lord Amherst since it was designed by Duane Lyman and opened in 1962. The buildings, although separate, are linked by an “architectural breezeway” and common design, and also share a single electrical service, Chiazza said. That will be changed as part of the renovations, but the independently operated restaurant still will be “linked” to the hotel.
It was not clear if Militello and his wife, Marilynn, would be involved in the new restaurant. “They are great people, and the parties have had an enjoyable relationship for the last nearly two years,” Chiazza said. “It is too soon to say what future involvement they will have in the next chapter of the restaurant, but discussions and ideas will continue to be exchanged among the parties.”
Militello said he is working with Paul Iskalo, owner of Iskalo Development Corp., on drawings and designs for the new restaurant and hopes to reach agreement with the developer. He said he has a concept in mind that would complement the combined 230 rooms of the new hotels and enable the new establishment to handle more than 200 seats for a conference, wedding or other banquet event.
“I’m not retiring, so I enjoy the business. I enjoy designing and developing. But at the end of the day, Paul is the owner, and he can choose who he wants. We’re proud to have been a part of it,” Militello said.