David Schutte truly knows how to celebrate Oktoberfest. He taps into his German descent every fall when the Creekview Restaurant (5629 Main St., Williamsville) rolls out its annual Oktoberfest menu with homemade German specialties.
With incredible views alongside Ellicott Creek, the land was the first settlement in Amherst back in 1799. That history is one of the many aspects of the Creekview that Schutte takes pride in. He took time away from the hustle and bustle of the restaurant world to talk about it all.
Question: The Creekview is clearly named for its view of Ellicott Creek. How is it this fall?
Answer: It’s beautiful this time of year. Fall is very busy since we are celebrating Oktoberfest with Wiener Schnitzel, German sausage, spätzle (German noodles) and potato pancakes - to have that on the patio with the creek rolling by and leaves starting to turn - it almost feels like you’re in Bavaria.
Q: Is it a tradition to celebrate Oktoberfest?
A: It is a tradition, but I expanded it 21 years ago when I bought the restaurant. I’m German and I’ve actually been to Munich for Oktoberfest. Sitting on the patio at the Creekview has always been a tradition. That area was never developed before I was here. The main dining room looked onto the grass. I put the concrete patio in and then made it year-round with windows.
Q: You offer a lot of dinner specials. How has the cuisine changed over the years?
A: We’re known for calf’s liver every Tuesday. We have half-price bottles of wine on Tuesdays. We have bands on Thursdays and Saturdays and a fish fry on Friday, but that’s not like it used to be.
The fish fry community is dwindling – people’s cuisine palates and dietary habits have changed. They’re ordering more salads, more protein, more healthy items and not as much fried food. We definitely have a more diversified menu. We used to do 250 dinners on a Friday and 140 would be a fish fry, but now it’s more like 60 to 80 ordering fish fries. Fish is still popular, but we’re doing more broiled and more scallops.
Q: What stands out to you on the menu?
A: Our steak sandwich is legendary. When I bought the Creekview there was no steak sandwich on the menu – I think this is a great spot for a Guinness and a steak sandwich on a Saturday afternoon.
Q: Creekview is very popular in Williamsville. Do you draw customers from outside the village?
A: We have a couple from Niagara-on-the-Lake who comes in almost every Friday night. We have people from Grand Island, East Aurora, Orchard Park - it’s definitely a destination.
Q: What’s the reaction from customers when they are relaxing on the patio?
A: It’s a tranquil experience. You’re right on Main Street, but you don’t feel like it’s the city. It feels like the countryside. The sound of the creek is very calming.
Q: How does it feel to know you are carrying on a tradition at a historic site?
A: It’s wonderful. I’m honored that I’m able to be the current caretaker. I’m one of just a few over about 150 years that have owned it. So it’s funny because I also own Oliver’s and I just opened Sear, the steakhouse, last year. I worked in California and in New York City at the Rainbow Room.
With the Creekview, it was my first restaurant. I was 29 years old when I bought it. I’m proud to be at Oliver’s and the steakhouse, but I’ve always had a sweet spot for the Creekview. I went to Williamsville South and I’m very proud of what we accomplished here. I’m looking forward to another 21 years.
*Read Elizabeth Carey's previous piece for The Buffalo News: