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LONG-AWAITED RESTAURANT SET TO OPEN <br> THURSDAY IS BIG DAY FOR SHANGHAI RED'S AT DOWNTOWN MARINA

The long wait for a replacement for Crawdaddy's restaurant on Buffalo's waterfront is over.

Shanghai Red's will open Thursday evening, with "dinner-only" service. The formal grand opening is scheduled for Nov. 10.

"We're really excited to show off this beautiful building and show the community what we can do," said Christopher Clark, the restaurant's general manager.

Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, who has been frustrated by some five years of delays in getting the often-stalled restaurant project moving, was the guest of honor at Shanghai Red's first event, an invitation-only private party at the Erie Basin Marina location.

"There's no question we had to work very hard to get them to live up to their promises, and there were times we were sure we'd never see it open," Masiello said. "But I have to say they have done a beautiful job, and it's a first-class restaurant in a first-class setting."

Specialty Restaurants, the California company that ran Crawdaddy's and built its replacement, was supposed to have opened Shanghai Red's doors Sept. 30 to avoid forfeiting a $500,000 performance bond to the city.

However, the city loosened the deadline to allow final work on the $5.2 million project to continue.

Specialty now has until Nov. 18 to complete construction of the building's grand ballroom, followed by a Nov. 28 deadline for completion of outdoor patios. If an early onset of winter weather makes it impossible to finish the exterior areas of the building, Shanghai Red's will have until May 2, 2005, to wrap up the work.

In the meantime, the city will continue to hold onto the company's $500,000 letter of credit, as well as title to the building.

"We'll continue to keep the pressure on them until everything's 100 percent and a permanent certificate of occupancy is issued," said city lawyer Richard E. Stanton. "We acknowledge they have worked very hard in the past few months to open a high-quality restaurant, but we'll monitor the progress until they meet the rest of the milestones."

The restaurant's current timetable will see dinners served nightly starting at 5 p.m. through Nov. 1, when lunch service will kick off, Clark said. Brunch will be added in mid-November.

In addition to the Masiello party Monday, the 80-member restaurant crew served up a private bash for the Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau Tuesday evening, with a "thank you" party for the construction crews tonight.

When it's in full operation, Shanghai Red's will be able to accommodate about 1,500 patrons in its main dining room and bar, three banquet rooms and outdoor areas.

e-mail: slinstedt@buffnews.com

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