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CRAWDADDY'S CLOSES AT HEALTH DEPARTMENT REQUEST <br> WATERFRONT RESTAURANT MUST MAKE SUBSTANTIAL REPAIRS, COUNTY OFFICIAL SAYS

Crawdaddy's Restaurant closed voluntarily today at the request of the Erie County Health Department and will not be allowed to reopen until substantial interior repairs are made, a department said.

"We felt they needed to close to take care of the problems," said John Eiss, an administrator for the Health Department. "If they didn't, we'd have had to take legal actions."

Eiss declined to identify the specific problems, saying only that they were numerous and substantial.

Officials at the waterfront restaurant, which opened on Erie Basin Marina in 1982, could not be reached to comment this afternoon.

Ed Smith, owner of Melody Fair Theater, signed a $3.5 million lease-purchase agreement for the restaurant in 1995 with Specialty Restaurants Corp. of Anaheim, Calif. At the time, Smith said he planned to invest $2 million to make improvements to the business.

Crawdaddy's, which was part of the original redevelopment of the marina, draws large crowds after work on Fridays during fair weather. It has failed, however, to generate a steady restaurant and weekday business.

It became embroiled in a dispute with City Hall in 1992 when the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency filed and then withdrew a lawsuit claiming the restaurant had fallen $90,000 behind on its payment in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with the city.

It also sparked a controversy among residents of nearby luxury condominiums when it began offering live music on weekend nights. The restaurant later eliminated the live music and agreed to close the patio earlier at night.

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