David C. Forness, Buffalo restaurateur, owned Gabriel's Gate - The Buffalo News
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David C. Forness, Buffalo restaurateur, owned Gabriel's Gate

Sept. 18, 1939 – March 11, 2017

David C. Forness, former owner of Gabriel’s Gate and other Buffalo restaurants, died Saturday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short battle with cancer. He was 77.

His success with the Buffalo House, a property he and a partner acquired and remodeled on Franklin Street in downtown Buffalo, was the model for his subsequent restaurants.

They included Gabriel’s Gate on Allen Street, which he bought in the mid 1980s, Hemingway’s on Pearl Street, Birchfield’s on Main Street and Megan’s Irish Pub on Allen Street.

In recent years, he owned and operated the Alley Cat, a restaurant and bar, also on Allen Street.

Born in Buffalo, he attended Bennett High School and graduated from New Hartford High School near Utica. He returned to earn a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in school administration from the University at Buffalo, where he played on the basketball team.

During the Vietnam War, he served in Army and the Army Reserve.

Mr. Forness taught for 17 years in the Buffalo schools while working at night as a bartender and manager at Schony’s, Mean Guys East, Court 51 and Leonardo’s, before opening his own restaurants.

In 1982, when he opened the Buffalo House, he took a leave of absence from his sixth-grade classroom at Southside Elementary School to devote full-time effort to his business.

He was a member of the Allentown Association and enjoyed auctions, sports, landscaping his properties and collecting art and antiques.

He was an early collector of Charles Burchfield.

Survivors include a daughter, Megan Calvert; five brothers, Clarence, Norman, Charles, Douglas Jr. and Michael; two sisters, Donna Arnone and Kelly; and two grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Louis Catholic Church, Main and Edward streets.

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