The owners of Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub, having bought the rest of the South Buffalo block, have made a big bet on their neighborhood’s future.
Patrick Lalley and brother-in-law Larry “Hugger” Adymy are nearing completion on a $350,000 project to expand the capabilities of the restaurant at 2134 Seneca St.
The front of the building was removed and rebuilt along classic Irish pub lines. Bathrooms were redone, and a stone-framed gas fireplace was added to the barroom.
Outside, a second-story steel balcony will be added above the existing patio, so the restaurant can offer two stories of outside eating. That should add about 40 dining seats on the balcony, Lalley said. If weather cooperates, that should be done by March 1.
Next to that, Blackthorn will offer an enclosed picnic grove of landscaped green space. Games like outdoor ping-pong and cornhole are planned, and firepits, with the area open to customers, or for catered events. A 50-spot parking lot will be finished as weather allows this spring.
The menu, known for Buffalo and Irish standards, will be updated around Eastertime, Lalley said, to coincide with the project’s completion.
Lalley, a lieutenant in the Buffalo Fire Department, bought the place with Adymy in 2005. Opened as Early Times in 1976, the tavern was renamed Blackthorn after it changed hands in 1994. It drew a visit from television food personality Guy Fieri in 2009.
The current owners bought other properties on the block. Then about two years ago, they considered the future. “Are we going to be here for a long time? We both have kids, our families love it,” Lalley said. “We decided, let’s make another 10-year plan.”
The partners invested about $300,000, Lalley said. They also got a $50,000 grant from the state’s Better Buffalo Fund, four or five Seneca Street buildings to benefit.
Lalley said he’s encouraged by news of more investment in the Seneca Street corridor. Hook & Ladder Development, owned by fellow Buffalo firefighters, is investing in the area, he noted, and developer Jake Schneider, who launched a $9 million project in a historic commercial building at 2178 Seneca St.
Lalley said he was asked recently if he hoped Seneca would become like Elmwood or Hertel. His dream, he said, was Seneca Street from the 1940s, “all the storefronts filled, vibrant, foot traffic. If we could work back toward that, it could be great.”
He and his partner both live about two minutes from the restaurant. “We love the neighborhood, and want to see it survive,” he said. “We’re definitely not going anywhere.”
Las Puertas opening: Las Puertas, the modern Mexican restaurant underway since late 2015, has announced its opening date.
Fans of Acapulco-born chef-owner Victor Parra Gonzalez can start checking out the new place Feb. 8.
Las Puertas, 385 Rhode Island St., was announced in December 2015. The restaurant will seat 35, with 25 at tables and 10 bar seats reserved for walk-in customers. Gonzalez said its small scale will allow him to offer a restaurant model not currently found in Buffalo: cooks serving their dishes directly to diners.
The menu will feature dishes that blend Gonzalez’s French culinary training and Mexican heritage. The planned menu includes fresh seafood with Acapulcan accents, cured duck, tartare, mole, soups and ceviches. It’s designed “to allow people to find something they can love and come back to time and time again,” he said.
The restaurant will open without liquor, he said, then add tastings menus once it’s available.
Gonzalez operated Jaguar at the Bistro in Youngstown from 2013 until last year. With food truck operator Zina Lapi, he opened Casa Azul, 128 Genesee St., in December.
Casa Azul, which is serving tacos and Mexican street food dishes, will not be affected by the Las Puertas opening, Gonzalez said. Work to open a full menu restaurant with liquor on Casa Azul’s second floor is continuing, he said.
For Las Puertas reservations, call 807-1141.
Fera’s on Franklin moving: Fera’s on Franklin, a downtown breakfast and lunch staple for more than 25 years, is moving.
The restaurant will move to the Rand Building, 14 Lafayette Square, next month, said owner Peter Boncore. After it closes for business Feb. 3 at its current 168 Franklin St. address, it will reopen in the new spot Feb. 6.
The new place will be in the lobby of the building, so customers will use the lobby entrance to enter the restaurant, Boncore said.
The menu of breakfast sandwiches and subs, soups and salads will remain unchanged, he said. New offerings at the Rand Building location will include espresso, and eventually a buffet. A beer and wine license is also underway.
His Fera’s is one of three independently owned in Buffalo, Boncore said. Fera’s Lunch Hour, 93 Pearl St., and Fera’s Electric Tower Café, 535 Washington St., are not affected. The original Fera’s opened on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst in 1960. The Pearl Street location, opened 30 years ago, Boncore said, was the first Fera’s in Buffalo.
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