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A number of new restaurants and shops are calling Elmwood Avenue home.

Both Nektar and Bistro Vite restaurants are set to open their doors by Friday. Nektar, which advertises itself as the home of Buffalo's best martini, also offers a full menu of southern Mediterranean meals cooked in wood-fired ovens and grills. The upscale restaurant replaces Schneider's Fish & Seafood Co., which moved to Cheektowaga in the mid-1990s. The building between Bryant and Utica streets has sat vacant for several years.

"There's nothing like it in the city," said Stavros Malliaris, owner of Nektar and nearby Ambrosia, a Greek restaurant.

Bistro Vite touts itself as a place to get good food quickly. The upscale bakery-and-sandwich cafe on Elmwood near West Delevan Avenue is owned by Bob Gershberg, former owner of the Bagel Bros. chain. The cafe will also serve made-to-order salads, wines and beers. The building formerly housed Delphia's Bistro and before that, the Old Soda Bar & Pastry Company.

Elmwood Avenue is the first of several locations Gershberg has planned for the Bistro Vite chain. The next location will be on the ground floor of the new Hampton Inn & Suites on Delaware Avenue, followed by a third store on Transit Road in Amherst, he said.

"I think the real growth will be in fast upscale," Gershberg said. "We're in a hurry but we want better food."

More restaurants aren't coming to Elmwood Avenue -- they're just opening at the same time, said Thomas Cooney, executive director of Forever Elmwood.

"A lot of the restaurants tend to flip over into other restaurant space," he said.

In the last 12 months, 22 businesses have opened on Elmwood Avenue between Forest and Virginia, and 16 have closed -- giving the street an 8 percent vacancy rate, Cooney said.

In addition to the restaurants, a day spa and gift store are joining Elmwood Avenue.

Spoiled Rotten specializes in hand-made gifts from the Tonawanda Indian Reservation and from around the world, said owner Katharine Jemison, who used to work at Everything Elmwood. Located between West Ferry Street and Lafayette Avenue, Spoiled Rotten's name came from the fact that Jemison is an only child. The store was formerly home to Quill's Apothecary, which moved to another location on Elmwood.

Angelia, a day spa, will open in mid-November on Elmwood Avenue near West Delevan Avenue. There will be no salon at first but it will offer massages, manicures, pedicures and a relaxation room, said Michael R. Prezioso, one of three owners. The building was formerly owned by Rite-Aid, which unsuccessfully tried to expand in that location.


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