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Shatzel hires top Buffalo talent to lead Thin Man

Mike Shatzel has hired two top Buffalo talents to oversee the food and beer offerings at Thin Man Brewery, his upcoming Elmwood brewery-restaurant.

Bruce Wieszala, whose Buffalo fine dining resume includes Tabree and Bourbon & Butter, will be Thin Man’s chef. Rudy Watkins, founding member and former head brewer at Community Beer Works, will be its brewer.

Construction continues on the project, at 486-492 Elmwood Ave., encompassing the spaces that were formerly Faherty’s and Toro. The 240-seat brewery-restaurant would be the largest place in Shatzel’s beer-centric restaurant group, which includes Blue Monk, Allen Burger Venture and Colter Bay.

“We’ll probably start out smaller than that,” said Shatzel, who is partnered with developer Rocco Termini in the restaurant. Suzanne Shatzel and Bridget Termini, their spouses, will own the brewery operation.

The food will come first, hopefully in May. “Construction’s going quickly, and the weather has been kind to us,” Shatzel said. Beer production will follow, he said.

Wieszala’s draft food menu includes frites, burgers – including the pork-belly-topped Tokyo burger from Tabree – along with Cuban and banh mi sandwiches. Housemade sausage and pastas are expected, along with vegetable dishes suitable for sides or vegetarian entrees, drawn from local sources when possible.

“I’m still going to be doing the charcuterie program at the new place, whenever we can get a whole pig, and do a pork chop special,” he said. Given the masses Thin Man is expected to serve, that's not always going to be available, Wieszala noted.

“I’m over fine dining,” Wieszala said. “What I’ve been telling friends is that this will be the fun, fat-kid food that I used to do at the other restaurants.” Wieszala said he also got to design the kitchen he’ll be working in, a first for him. “It’s going to be super-efficient,” he said. “I haven’t seen anything like it in Buffalo.”

Watkins, whose 15-year brewing career started in homebrewing, has fashioned beers for Community Beer Works since it started pouring in April 2012. They included brews like last year’s limited-run strawberry-rhubarb Belgian wheat.

Thin Man drinkers can expect “a bunch of fun experimentation,” he said. “New fermentation profiles and new ingredients, beers brewed with wild yeasts, things like that,” Watkins said. “The fact that we’ll sell everything in-house means I can play around and see people’s reactions to things, see what they’re enjoying and what they aren’t.”

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