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Restaurant notes: Oshun, Brenda's Bites

Oshun, the new oyster and seafood bar set in an Art Deco building at 5 E. Huron St., is on pace for mid-July opening, said chef-owner Jim Guarino.

“We had a few delays with some plumbing issues, but it’s finally taking shape,” Guarino said. “It’s getting exciting.”

“It really looks like a space from the ’40s that has just been updated over time,” Guarino said. “It looks specific to the architecture of the building, that strong Art Deco influence.” The bar is in, and the oyster bar is in, giving the space its shape, even though the tops aren’t installed yet.

The 130-seat restaurant is going to be almost twice the size of Guarino’s Shango Bistro in University Heights. Guarino said he’ll oversee Oshun’s food operation, with sous chef Brett Brennan handling day-to-day duties.

“Our food is going to be a contemporary take on a seafood house. It’s doing to be a distinct restaurant from Shango,” he said. The culinary influences will come from a far wider range of places, transcending the American South to draw from the Caribbean, Africa and Italy, among other cuisines.

Staff hiring started about two weeks ago. “So far we’ve put together a good group,” Guarino said. “In the front of the house, we’ll be hiring close to 40 people, and then about 16 back in the kitchen.”

Does it make him nervous, opening the first seafood house in downtown Buffalo in a long time, in July. “Of course it does. Everything about the project makes me nervous,” he said with a laugh.

“We’re confident,” he continued. “We just want to get the doors open, and get some people in. We’re excited about the menu, we’re excited about having cocktails, and the space looks so cool at nighttime, the bar is just spectacular, the space just glows out into the street.”


One of the ripples resulting from an ongoing wave of investment in downtown Buffalo restaurants is a new radio show devoted to local restaurants.

A month ago, veteran broadcaster, producer and marketer Brenda Alesii started a half-hour show, Sundays at 10:30 a.m., on WWKB AM 1520. Since a stint with the doomed Rigas-era WNSA cable and radio operation, she has worked at sales and marketing for Entercom Radio. There, she’s written “Brenda’s Bites,” a cooking column.

“Food is more than a hobby for me,” she said. “I think about food all the time. As soon as I have breakfast, what’s for lunch? I end up talking to a lot of people who have a high food consciousness, I guess you might say.”

Her show will spotlight local restaurants, with operators, chefs and people involved in restaurant-related businesses, she said.

“What impresses me lately is the influx of restaurants, especially downtown, that whole burgeoning Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the harbor area, the downtown area. There’s a real resurgence right now with everything in the city. It’s something I never thought I would see in my lifetime, and I think the restaurant industry is part of that,” Alesii said.

Closed: The Orchard Inn, 259 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca, has closed. Its contents are up for auction today on the Cash Realty site. “Building coming down, everything must go,” it says.

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