Although restaurants here and there have pared hours in the past few years, the biggest hit to late-night dining happened in 1993, when the last 11 restaurants in the local Your Host chain closed, citing mounting losses to fast-food chains and a sluggish economy. Your Host once had 40 restaurants, and in 1989, when Buffalo News Food Editor Janice Okun wrote about late-night dining, she mentioned eight Your Hosts that were open all night, in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Hamburg, East Aurora and North Tonawanda.
Among the many people who have fond memories of Your Host is Mark Anthony, who spent almost all of 1971 in Western New York as keyboard player for the band Truth, which played at the Scene on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst.
Anthony, who has returned to his native Virginia, recalled living with his six bandmates first in the Maple Leaf Motor Lodge and then in a house behind the motel and eating at Your Host “just about every night” after leaving the bar.
“We finished playing at 2 a.m., and we were hungry,” said Anthony. “It had been a long time since dinner, and we wanted breakfast or whatever. We found this place that was not too far down the road from the Maple Leaf Motor Lodge. We’d show up there between 2:30 and 3, and we weren’t alone – the place was bustling, just like in the middle of the day. Most of those clubs were open late, into the wee hours, and people wanted somewhere to wind down.”
Anthony said he sometimes had breakfast but also recalled ordering a cheeseburger that was served with fries topped with gravy. “I’d never heard of that before, but I tried it once and I said, ‘This is fantastic!’” he said. “I don’t think I ever had anything I didn’t like. The people that worked there were great, the service was fantastic. I don’t understand why they closed, and I was really sad when I heard that.”
The atmosphere at the Your Host was always friendly, said Anthony. “I never felt uncomfortable being there at all,” whatever the hour.