Restaurateur Russell J. Salvatore has developed a well-earned reputation for generosity, but his latest commitment of $1 million for the Erie County Medical Center is a topper.

Like his many previous gifts to the community, this one will benefit countless individuals and for many years.

Salvatore’s donation will go to the county hospital’s capital campaign for its new trauma center emergency room. It is the largest donation made by Salvatore, but far from the only one to the hospital.

In 2012, he paid to upgrade the televisions in patient rooms at ECMC. A couple of years later, he donated $500,000 for a new orthopedic unit in his name at the hospital. The Russell J. Salvatore Orthopedic Unit opened in 2016.

In this latest round, he will have raised $2.5 million for the trauma center campaign and other capital improvements, including the main entrance and lobby. The $1 million will be distributed over several years.
Donations from the owner of Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More and Salvatore’s Grand Hotel are too numerous to run a complete list here. To mention just a couple: In 2015, he donated $400,000 to Roswell Park Cancer Institute to provide free television service for patients and their families. He also funded Independence Day extravaganzas at Canalside, spending tens of thousands of dollars for the fireworks.

It isn’t uncommon to see the energetic 84-year-old at his establishment greeting customers with a smile and warm hello.

By way of explanation for his latest generosity, he quipped about “getting everything in order in case the man upstairs rings the bell for me.” Then came the real reason: “You know, I have the money. I’m fortunate enough that I can do it, that I can give back.”

Salvatore embodies what it means to give from the heart.

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