The closing of the Cataract House Restaurant on the eve of the Festival of Lights and the American Bus Association marketplace is disappointing but not insurmountable, a Chamber of Commerce official said last week.
Charles P. Steiner, president of the Chamber, said it's disappointing to lose any business, but especially one as integral to the downtown area as the Cataract House with its key location on Old Falls Street across Third Street from the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center and E. Dent Lackey Plaza.
"It's a disappointment in the sense that it was another business that was a very integral part of the festival," said Steiner, who is also chairman of the Festival of Lights volunteer committee.
"More important you've got to respect the fact that it is a business and we've obviously got to work a little harder to make businesses successful. That's one of the reasons the festival exists -- to create a positive business climate," he said.
The Cataract House closed on Nov. 16, when a city marshal chained the doors on orders of a federal court judge, ruling in a bankruptcy proceeding, according to Anthony A. Girasole, one of the owners of the former bank building where the restaurant was located.
The partners in the three-year-old restaurant, Dimitrios Dandolos and Vincent J. Grandinetti, filed for protection from their creditors under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Law in March, 1989.
"We were one of the creditors. Since March 1989, we were trying to get a decision from the judge on whether they could stay there or we could take the property back," Girasole said.
"We wanted the lease broken. They wanted the lease to remain in effect. The judge ruled in our favor."
Neither Dandolos nor Grandinetti could be reached to comment.
Girasole stressed that Dandolos and Grandinetti "are nice people and they tried to make this location work. We really hope they do well in their future endeavors."
"A lot of their problems had to do with the upheaval of downtown. . . . If (Falls Street Faire and Falls Street Station) had been open this probably wouldn't have happened," Girasole said.
The Faire and Station are unfinished entertainment and retail complexes, which were to have opened on Old Falls Street more than two years ago.
Steiner said that, too, is a blow to the city's efforts to pull out all of the stops for the bus association's marketplace, but, "We try to turn things around and make the best of them."
He said new lights, displays and innovations in this year's festival should make up for some of the dark spots in the downtown area and help the city put its best foot forward for the marketplace, which began Sunday and runs through Friday.The festival opened on Nov. 24 and runs through Jan. 6.
Steiner said the Faire and Station had been used as sales tools to attract the marketplace. Now, local tourism officials have to explain their absence.
Absent also is the municipal ice skating rink in Lackey Plaza.
Steiner said if the rink had been operating, it would have been "the icing on the cake," giving Niagara Falls that "wonderful Rockefeller Center ambience." But, the ice rink has broken down again and won't be operating for this year's festival. Instead of ice skaters the rink will house a train ride.