One of Buffalo's most popular pizza places may add a brewery to its operation.
The owners of Santora's Pizza Pub & Grill bought a former Doodle Bugs daycare center at 7790 Transit Road, next door to one of the two existing locations for the restaurant. Acting through Santora's Phase II LLC, they paid $700,000 to Albert Bluemle's One Fusion LLC, which has owned it since 2008, according to Erie County Clerk records.
The 0.72-acre property includes a 4,171-square-foot, one-story retail facility that was built in 1986 and renovated in 2001 with an expansion. It's sandwiched between Santora's and the Animal Hospitable Veterinary Clinic, just north of the ramp to Sheridan Drive on the Amherst side of Transit. The property was assessed at $412.900.
Santora's has already been leasing and occupying the building for offices and summer storage space, but "right now, we have a few plans in the works" for the new property, said co-owner Paul Santora, grandson of the company's founder.
In particular, he said, the long-term plan would involve turning the facility into a small brewery for in-house production of its own beers under Santora's 1927 brand - named for the year that the pizzeria first opened.
Additionally, while the restaurant itself doesn't need additional space, operating a brewery in the building next door would also allow Santora's to expand its already successful outdoor patio area in the summer, Santora added.
"That is something that we've discussed," Santora said. "It's been on the table numerous times. It's just whether or not we can turn that into something that actually works. It's very much in its infancy stages at this point."
Right now, the restaurant works with 12 Gates Brewing Co., which already makes an amber ale for Santora's and is developing a new IPA for it as well at its brewing facility on Earhart Drive in Amherst. And Santora said the restaurant would enlist 12 Gates to help with its own manufacturing if it does go down that route.
But that's at least five to six months away, since that's how long it takes just to get the proper permits from the State Liquor Authority. In the meantime, he said, he and co-owner Scott Wexler are "trying to figure out where 2018 is going to take us as far as our brand and other ideas," while making sure they don't move too fast.
"For us, it's been a really fast evolution of where we are today compared to where we were five years ago," Santora said. "Trying to stay ahead of the curve is the most important thing, trying to satisfy our guests and give them the best experience. We don't want to lose any of our core business by trying to expand too fast and doing things that are fun but unnecessary. We spend a lot of energy on our brand and food, and I want to make sure that whatever we're doing, we don't lose sight of that."