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Restaurant notes: Barrel + Brine, Nine29, Phoenix

Barrel + Brine, Buffalo's homegrown pickle and fermented foods operation, is preparing to open a new location that includes a café and taproom.

The growth in demand for its beet caraway sauerkraut and other products prompted the search for a bigger space, said R.J. Marvin, who owns the company with his wife Lindsey. Barrel + Brine will be fermenting its kombucha in the same building in Black Rock that will hold BlackBird Cider, 155 Chandler St.

Thin Man Brewing Co. will also be opening a production brewery across the street, which is shaping up to be Buffalo's fermentation alley with the work of Rocco Termini, who's developing the buildings.

Barrel + Brine has its horseradish dills and kimchi available for sale in many area Wegmans supermarkets, all Feel Rite stores, Whole Foods, and both Lexington Co-ops, among other locations. It's also offered retail hours at its original site, 257 Carolina St., where its production takes place.

BlackBird Cider opening cider hall in Black Rock

The Carolina Street store opened in December 2015. In the back, the Marvins have been turning mainly local vegetables into the sort of fermented foods your grandparents might have made to get them through the winter.

"The demand has been growing and growing, as more people reconnect with fermented foods," Marvin said. "Our production space is currently 350 square feet." The new space will have a walk-in cooler that's larger than that, he said.

Pucker up and eat right with a new fermented food joint on Buffalo's West Side

"Lindsey's making 900-plus liters of kombucha almost every week. I'm producing almost 1,500 pounds of pickles, sauerkraut and other things a month," he said. "It's way too small for that sort of production." The new location will be just under 4,000 square feet, he said.

The Marvins expect to open by late summer. A café showcasing fermented foods, and a taproom pouring kombucha, local beer, wine and cider are in their plans. "Everything's going to focus heavily on local terroir, seasonal produce, and fermentation and preservation in general," Marvin said, "so that people can enjoy the things our farmers are producing year-round."

The Marvins are celebrating their announcement with a pop-up meal at their present Carolina Street location at noon April 8. The menu, from Grange Community Kitchen's Anthony Petrilli, will feature Korean-Canadian fusion, like kimchi poutine, and corn-scallion fritters with spicy maple syrup.

Fans and well-wishers can contribute to an Indiegogo fundraiser the Marvins have established to underwrite Barrel + Brine's equipment and capital costs.

Nine29 on Elmwood: The former Elmwood Village Lebanese restaurant called Mezza has become Nine29, pivoting to American fare like cheeseburgers, subs and wings.

The restaurant, 929 Elmwood Ave., is run by brothers Peter and Johnathan Eid, who are also proprietors of the Theater District's Hearth + Press.

Both restaurants feature brick oven pizza, appearing on Nine29's menu in cheese, pepperoni, margherita and white versions ($12-$14).

The rest of the menu tracks tavern standards in soup, salads and sandwiches. Nachos ($10), caesar salad ($10), and a meat and cheese board ($15) are on offer.

Elmwood Lebanese restaurant Mezza closes, owners changing menu

Chicken finger subs ($12) feature housemade fingers, and vegetarian Beyond Burgers ($12) are also available. On Fridays, the restaurant offers a battered haddock fish fry ($12).

Basil hummus ($8) is practically the only Middle Eastern offering left on the menu. The restaurant, opened in 2010, was a Lebanese place until it closed for a reboot in February.

The restaurant is open seven days a week. Lunch is served 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Oliver's transaction: Five years ago, restaurateur David Schutte took over Oliver's restaurant, a Buffalo fine-dining mainstay.

He's been paying rent since. On March 29, he bought the building itself, from Henry Gorino and partners.

"It was part of the plan five years ago, when I bought the business," Schutte said. "It just came to fruition today."

The original rental agreement gave him an option to buy after five years passed. Schutte is also the managing partner at Sear.

"I've been keeping up the building as though it was mine all the way," said Schutte. "Renovations a year and a half ago, with some new bathrooms, the men's room being redone. New carpets coming, stuff like that."

Other than the freshened-up interiors, he said, little should change at the restaurant.

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Phoenix closed: The Phoenix has closed in Black Rock, but like its mythical namesake, it will rise again.

That's owner Mary Logue's current mission, at least.

The restaurant, 269 Amherst St., went dark after a March 31 farewell party. Logue, who opened the place in 2013, said she's already hunting for a new spot to reopen. Ideally it would be in Buffalo or the Northtowns, a place that's already been a restaurant, with its own parking.

"Me and everybody else, of course," she quipped about fellow restaurateurs.

Logue praised her loyal customers for their support. "I've been extremely lucky, and very grateful that everybody in the city has done for me."

Like the phoenix, the restaurant "will rise again from the ashes," Logue said. "We just don't know where."

The Phoenix adds to Black Rock’s luster – 8 plates

Send restaurant tips to agalarneau@buffnews.com and follow @BuffaloFood on Instagram and Twitter.

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