Developer Mark D. Croce has a pretty cool vision when it comes to turning part of Franklin Street into “restaurant row.” If all goes as planned, the result should be an eclectic mix to tempt the taste buds of both natives and visitors.
As recently reported in The News, Croce is moving forward with his two latest projects: a new sushi-themed restaurant and a pizza-and-wings place.
He recently won approval for his plan to renovate and add a single-story, 1,918-square-foot addition to the former home of his Buckin’ Buffalo Saloon at 294 Franklin St. His plan is to create a full-service, eat-in pizzeria, including a 150-seat dining room and a full bar.
Croce knows a thing or two about restaurants. He owns a variety of them in the heart of Buffalo. The establishments tend to do well and draw patrons looking for all types of fare.
So it’s intriguing when he talks about his grand plan for a section of the city that is soon to see a lot more foot traffic from patrons of new hotels and from those drawn to a soon-to-open restaurant brand that has proved to be wildly popular in other upstate cities.
Croce’s just-approved sushi restaurant at 284 Franklin St. will sit in front of his upscale Buffalo Chop House restaurant. Both restaurants will sit opposite the long-awaited Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, the highly regarded eatery based in Syracuse. It will all make for a nice mix, together with Croce’s other restaurants: D’Arcy McGee’s Irish Pub and Laughlin’s.
Such a restaurant row is common in other cities and this seems like the right time for Buffalo to jump in, with major development going on at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and on the waterfront. Add to that several hotels that will be coming on line – including Croce’s planned boutique hotel with its Mediterranean- or Italian-style restaurant in the Curtiss Building at Franklin and West Huron streets. And that’s not to mention the return to cars on nearby Main Street, a move designed to bring people back downtown.
Croce is one of several developers who have put their money where their vision is. As a group, they have benefited from a city that has smoothed the path with its focus on the downtown core.
A restaurant row with its varied menus will give people one more reason to come downtown.