The long-dormant Puritan building on Allen Street is coming back to life, with apartments upstairs and a new restaurant called Billy Club on the first floor.
It will be the first place for owners Dan Hagen, a bartender at Toutant, and Jake Strawser, a mortgage advisor who also bartends at Blue Monk. They hope to open in early 2016.
“We wanted to offer a bar program and menu that’s a little different from what’s available now in Allentown,” Hagen said. “We thought a cocktail program with a whiskey focus is something that would fit well in the neighborhood.”
Billy Club’s menu hasn’t been written, as the partners have not yet hired their chef, Hagen said. Generally speaking, it’ll be locally-inspired New American cuisine, with small plates and large. The room will be small, with 24 dining seats, and 14 more at the bar.
Hagen credited developer Noel Sutton with purchasing the building and undertaking renovations that included bringing electrical and plumbing systems to modern standards. There are six apartments in upper floors. Billy Club’s address will be 228 Allen St. Next door is The Flo, a saltwater-tank sensory deprivation spa.
Ex-Nektar progress: MidTown Kitchen, the restaurant under construction in the former Nektar/Ambrosia space on Elmwood Avenue, is aiming for a January opening.
Work on the building, at 451 Elmwood Ave., is past the halfway mark, said Charles Barone, a partner. Barone, who returned to Buffalo in 2013, has experience running large metropolitan restaurants, having served as general manager at Chicago restaurants Tavern on Rush and Frontier.
A chef has been hired, said Barone, declining to name him out of respect to his current employer. “He comes out of classic American, with French technique,” Barone said. “I couldn’t be more excited to have him aboard.”
The building has been expanded southward towards the parking lot, adding 64 seats, for a total of 149. Interior walls were removed in pursuit of an “open-air industrial feel,” Barone said. Windows facing Elmwood Avenue can open up from floor to ceiling, and windows facing Bryant Avenue can slide open in temperate weather.
The recent stretch of decent weather has helped exterior work, he said. “We just finished the façade the other day,” Barone said last week.
“We’re just kind of putting the puzzle back together.”
He hopes MidTown Kitchen will be open by the end of January.
Open on Chippewa: Frankie Primo’s +39, an Italian restaurant and bar across Chippewa Street from Soho Burger Bar, opened Thursday for lunch.
The new look includes extensive interior renovations and the addition of a brick pizza oven, said Jay Manno, an owner of both restaurants.
The space, at 51 W. Chippewa St., was formerly City Tavern.
[Read a Starters on Frankie Primo's +39]
The opening menu includes appetizers of artichokes ($8), buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes ($9) and shrimp scampi ($13), salads of kale ($10) and fennel with citrus ($9), and panini ($9-$14). Entrees include pastas ($15-$22) and brick oven pizza ($13-$17).
“We’re hoping people love the food,” said Manno. “I think the place turned out great aesthetically. The chefs have been putting out great product in the tastings. We’re going to hit the ground running, and I hope people are patient while we get our systems in place.”
The doors will open at 11 a.m. for lunch, and the kitchen closes at midnight, Manno said.
Hertel comfort food: Block’s Restaurant opened on Hertel Avenue in late October, specializing in comfort food from American and European cuisines.
The space, at 1633 Hertel Ave., was previously Allegro Café. It’s owner Michael Rottger’s first restaurant, but he has 16 years of restaurant experience, from bars to fine dining, he said.
Block’s offers dishes like golabki, Polish cabbage rolls, German beef stroganoff and housemade bratwurst, and French onion soup. Appetizers include deep-fried meatballs, deep-fried pickles, and coconut-crusted shrimp with spicy pineapple slaw.
Adventurous sandwiches include “The Challenger,” with a beef patty marinated in Sriracha chile sauce, grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, jalapenos and more Sriracha, priced at $14.
There are 60 seats now, but he’s expecting his liquor license, Rottger said. When it arrives he’ll add 20 seats in the bar. It’s currently open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
More Middle Eastern: Kabob House and Grill opened in October in the Super Bazaar plaza in Amherst.
It’s a small, humble restaurant at 3202 Sheridan Drive, between International Halal Market and Super Bazaar, a Pakistani-Indian grocery.
The brief menu includes Persian kabobs of ground, spiced beef called koobideh, and kebsa, chicken, lamb or beef cooked in a fragrant rice pilaf. There’s also hummus, babaganoush and a few salads.
Nazaneen Ali, a Kurdish woman who is one of its owners, said the restaurant is open seven days a week, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Phone: 810-3514.
Doc Sullivan’s renewed: A renovated Doc Sullivan’s is getting ready to return to action.
The South Buffalo tavern at 468 Abbott Road, known for its “Smitty style” wings, will reopen at 11 a.m. Dec. 11, said owner Thomas Cowan.
Remodeling, including bathrooms, is complete, with the kitchen installation to come, said Cowan, who’s running the tavern with partner Justin Steinwandel.
“We’d open with a light menu, including the famous wings, then roll into the full menu the following weekend,” Cowan said. He’s also a partner in Dog e Style and the under-construction MidTown Kitchen on Elmwood Avenue.
The new menu will have more sandwiches, burgers, and a few salads and wraps, “some pub favorites,” Cowan said. He’s also working on a banquet menu for a banquet space of nearly 2,000 square feet, he said.
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