Empire Grill served its last meal Sunday. Owner Nick Kotrides said he expects to sign a sale contract this week.
He declined to name the buyer. After a 2004 groundbreaking, the two-story restaurant at 1435 Hertel Ave. led a new wave of restaurant openings on the street.
The 25-year veteran of Buffalo restaurants and bars put his three properties up for sale a few months ago. They include Toro Tapas Bar, 492 Elmwood Ave., and Faherty’s, the bar next door where Kotrides started in 1989. “I was shocked at the amount of interest Hertel got as opposed to Elmwood,” he said. “I would have definitely thought it was the other way around.”
He’s trying to sell Toro and Faherty’s together, which explains part of the difference, he said.
While he works on the sale, he’s planning to remodel Faherty’s. It’ll stay a bar, and get some freshening up, without losing its character. “There’s a difference between cleaning it up and changing the personality of the bar,” he said. “The floor can be redone, the stools reupholstered,” he said. “I’m not saying we’re going to turn it into a swanky place. Our motto is, ‘We’re not fancy, we’re Faherty’s,’ and I can’t change that.”
Veteran Buffalo restaurateurs are teaming with Ellicott Development to pursue a restaurant and residential building at 905 Elmwood Ave., presently a gas station.
Henry Gorino, who sold Oliver’s last year, is working on the project with restaurant partner Chuck Mauro and Ellicott Development’s Bill Paladino, according to Mauro.
They’ve made an offer and are pursuing a mixed-use building that would have a middle-market restaurant on the first floor and apartments on upper floors, Mauro said.
“We’re going through due diligence right now, so it’s not definite by any stretch of the imagination,” Mauro said. The site has to be assessed for environmental issues because of the gas tanks in the ground, among other potential complications, he said.
It will probably take five or six months of research and evaluation to see if the plan will move forward, he said.
The restaurant would “not be a high-end place, moderately priced,” Mauro said. The menu isn’t under development yet. “Probably nothing over $30,” Mauro said. “Lunch, dinner, early evening, Sunday brunch.”
“We’re excited, and hope it comes together,” he said. If everything works out, “we are probably looking at summer 2015,” he said.
“We want to be part of the community, and want to be good neighbors, a positive thing in the Elmwood Village,” Mauro said. “We want to do things the right way. When you’re heading south and reach Delavan, there seems to be a divide. We think it’s going to help connect the village, and that’s exciting.”
Renovating: Construction is underway on Texas de Brazil, the Brazilian steakhouse chain restaurant at the Galleria, said Cheektowaga code enforcement chief Tom Adamczak. “They have not indicated when it would be opening,” he said. It will be located in the former Hyde Park Steakhouse space.