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WATERFRONT RESTAURANT'S OPENING SET FOR JUNE

A new restaurant will be open on the former Crawdaddy's site at the Erie Basin Marina on June 17, 2002, according to an updated construction schedule released by Specialty Restaurants Corp.

The California company, whose various timetables had a new waterfront eatery up and running as early as the summer of 1999, and most recently April 2002, has sent Buffalo Mayor Anthony M. Masiello yet another construction timeline.

"We are still 110 percent committed to building the finest restaurant on the finest location in your wonderful city," John Tallichet, Specialty Restaurants president, wrote in a letter this week to Masiello, promising the mid-June debut.

"We feel privileged and honored to be involved in this project and look forward to having you as our most important guest when the restaurant opens," Tallichet concluded.

But based on the string of broken promises on past timetables, Masiello said he's still not convinced he'll be dining at the new restaurant next June or anytime next summer.

"I'll believe it when I see it. The day we do the ribbon-cutting on this place is the day I'll be relieved about the outcome," the mayor said. "I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but there's been so much doubt about this project."

The new timetable calls for Cleveland-based DAS Construction to set up its project headquarters at the marina-side site and erect construction barriers on Wednesday. Site preparation is slated to start on Oct. 31 and building will commence on Nov. 6.

Construction and interior work will continue through the winter and spring, with the building to be completed on June 10, and the first meals to be served on June 17.

The relationship between Specialty Restaurants and city officials has been a bumpy one, due in large part to the company's ever-changing plans, which have left the prime waterfront site lifeless since Crawdaddy's closed its doors in August 1998.

Specialty, whose development rights to the land run through 2025, has unveiled three different sets of plans for the site in recent years, including the current version, which should result in a 30,000-square-foot restaurant and banquet facility with a price tag of approximately $4.5 million.

The latest wrinkle in Specialty's building plans came in late September when it parted ways with Krog Corp. of Orchard Park, a construction firm that has been working with the restaurant company on the Crawdaddy's project for more that two years. A Krog executive said the falling-out stemmed from a difference in opinion over how much it will cost to build the new restaurant as currently proposed.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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