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Restaurant Notes: Roost, Griffon Pub in East Aurora

This summer, Martin Danilowicz closed his Connecticut Street restaurant Martin Cooks, where he could serve dinner to 18 people at a time.

On Dec. 16, he opens his new place, Roost, where there are 35 seats at the bar alone. The roomy new restaurant in the former Bison Storage building at 1502 Niagara St. will hold 125 all told, he said.

The menu’s “going to be eclectic, change on a regular basis, as seasonal as possible,” Danilowicz said. It will make use of a rotisserie and a rotating-deck pizza oven.

His sister Paula Danilowicz and Amelia Nussbaumer will help run the kitchen, which shares space with the bar. “You’ll be able to sit at the bar and talk to Amelia or Paula or one of the other cooks, as well as the bartenders,” he said.

The building, now named Crescendo, has been redeveloped into condominiums. On the first floor, visible from the Niagara Thruway as well as Niagara Street, Roost bears a name that “means ‘to congregate and relax’,” the chef-owner said. “At Martin Cooks the logo was a rooster, and I wanted to take my name out of the equation.”

A Chuck Tingley mural of a rooster adorns one entranceway. Most of Roost’s furniture was custom-made by Brian Wilcox and Dan Topolski, as well as the bar, banquettes and cabinets, he said.

Danilowicz is a career chef, but this is his first experience as construction manager, he said. “Six months ago, there was a hole 15 feet deep here, without utilities or anything,” said Danilowicz, sitting at one of his custom-made tables. “Martin Cooks was a pretty easy project. This is a big project. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

He learned a lot, he said, including a lesson about his four-ton pizza oven. “They build restaurants around those, they don’t bring those into restaurants,” he said. “We had to take out all of the windows and all of the doors, and rent a crane to get that into the building.” Danilowicz has another restaurant under way downtown, at 5-7 Genesee St.

Roost will open for dinner Dec. 16, Wednesday through Sunday, then add lunch Dec. 24, he said. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Phone: 259-9306.

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Griffon sets East Aurora opening: Griffon Gastropub’s East Aurora location, featuring 72 taps of draft beer and cider, will open Dec. 16 for drinks.

Diners will have to wait until 4 p.m. Dec. 19 to try the upgraded pub menu, said Ken Scibetta, an owner.

The restaurant, at 634 Main St., East Aurora, was formerly Medici House and Tantalus. It’s the third Griffon, following locations on Military Road in Niagara Falls, and Transit Road in Clarence. At 72 taps, he said, the East Aurora Griffon will probably offer the broadest tap array in the Southtowns.

After taking over the space in May, “we lightened the whole place up, added wood accents, and have added booths,” Scibetta said. “We put new 40-foot bar in, with seating for 25, and tore down walls to make the bar space bigger.” Restrooms, floor and kitchen are new as well, he said. It’ll offer 170 seats.

The menu will continue the Griffon model of pub food with a twist, burgers, share plates and bigger entrees. About 35 percent of the menu is different than the other Griffons, Scibetta said.

Originally hoping for an August opening, “we were very optimistic with the time frame,” said Scibetta. But in the long run, “we’d rather make sure everything was perfect than open up too soon,” he said. “Besides plumbing, electrical and flooring, we did the work ourselves.”

He’s no skilled carpenter, but “It’s a labor of love that gives us that personal connection with the building we like to have.”

The restaurant will be open seven days a week, serving its main menu 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Sunday 11 a.m.-10 pm. The bar will remain open later. Phone: 714-9301.

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Burning Buffalo unveiled: The Burning Buffalo Bar & Grill on Hertel Avenue, in the former Shadow Lounge space, will open to the public Dec. 16.

The restaurant, 1504 Hertel Ave., now offers much more draft beer, with 16 taps, said George Kotsis, an owner. What’s no longer offered is a regular schedule of live music, ending the building’s run as a music venue.

The goal is to offer a neighborhood bar and grill “with elevated pub fare, craft cocktails and craft beers with the focus on local,” said Kotsis. It’ll seat about 80 people plus 15 at the bar. The other owners are his brother, Nicholas Kotsis, Seth Stromberg and Gretchen Gonzalez.

Starting Dec. 16, George Kotsis said, the place will open at 3 p.m. with a full menu, served until midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Plans are to add lunch in a few weeks.

Chef Chris Silverstein’s menu includes tavern standards like wings and fish fries, plus starters like cornmeal blinis with smoked trout and queso fresco ($12), fried carrots and parsnips served with remoulade ($9) and biscuits stuffed with barbecued beef ($9).

Sandwiches include a club sandwich ($13) with smoked turkey, bacon and stuffed banana peppers, and a buffalo burger ($14). Entrees include bison meatloaf with cheddar-chive potatoes and stout gravy ($20) and grill-pressed chicken with creamy jack polenta, haricot verts and shallot butter ($18).

Kotsis said three of the owners live only blocks away. “We just think there is no better place to invest in our futures than where we live,” he said. “We’re excited to join the Hertel business community.” Phone: 259-9060.

Send restaurant tips to agalarneau@buffnews.com and follow @BuffaloFood on Instagram and Twitter.

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