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Restaurant sought for ex-Waldorf location

A restaurant-turned-shoe-store in the heart of downtown Buffalo is getting back into the food business.

The building at 5 East Huron St., which started life as the Waldorf Restaurant and most recently was home to Howard's Shoes, will return to its roots this summer. Amherst-based Iskalo Development Corp. has purchased the 60-year-old, single-story structure with plans to find a restaurant tenant.

"It's an ideal location for a restaurant," said Paul Iskalo, who recently purchased the historic Niagara Mohawk tower, located just across Huron Street from the vacant building. "It had been for sale for a while and it was a great opportunity for us to impact our immediate neighborhood."

Built in 1946, the small, 5,000-square-foot building was home to one of Buffalo's two Waldorf restaurants for some 30 years.

The structure, at the corner of Washington and East Huron streets, still retains some of its original features, including a glazed tile exterior, and interior wall murals.

"There are original three-dimensional plaster paintings on the walls and the 10-foot-tall front windows give great views of the Electric Tower and the M&T Bank Goldome Building. It's a great spot to sit and look out at downtown Buffalo," Iskalo said.

Iskalo has had conversations with a handful of local restaurateurs about leasing the building. Potential concepts range from a daytime-only operation, focusing on breakfast and lunch for downtown workers and residents, to a bar-restaurant offering lunch and dinners.

One of the places the developer hopes will supply restaurant patrons is the Electric Tower. Since buying the former power company headquarters building in 2004, Iskalo has been working to upgrade the Circa 1912 landmark into Class A office space.

While most of the 148,000-square-foot tower remains vacant, the owner expects 2006 to be a busy year for leasing. In January, Stantec, a Canada-based architecture and engineering firm became the building's first new tenant, leasing the building's second floor.

The Electric Building, as it is now known, is also expected to become home to a cluster of New York State agencies which must vacate the Donovan State Office Building by this summer.

Iskalo, whose portfolio is primarily new-build, suburban office complexes, said he's pleased with the overall response he's gotten from initial marketing for the downtown landmark.

"We're offering a unique opportunity to locate to a building loaded with historic character that also provides the modern amenities you'd expect in state-of-the-art, Class A space," he said.


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