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Fire, war can't stop The Fire Spot restaurant

Neither fire nor war could stop Rodney Wilkinson from opening his first restaurant.

After nine years of work, The Fire Spot, 3300 Bailey Ave., started selling fried chicken and waffles and more last month. The menu starts with breakfast and continues with fish and grits, and steak hoagies with Wilkinson’s own “Tailgate Come Back Sauce.”

Wilkinson is a lieutenant with the Buffalo Fire Department’s Ladder 7 at Main and Mercer streets. Shortly after he bought the building in 2007, it was damaged by an electrical fire. “I didn’t have insurance,” he said. “So it was kind of bombed out, but with the help of my family, and friends, I rebuilt it.”

Part of the reason it took so long is that Wilkinson also serves with the 914th Airlift Wing out of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Between missions in the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, he returned to Bailey Avenue to push his own place forward, with help from his family and friends

“I would deploy, then come back and work on it, then deploy again,” he said. “It’s a family thing,” he said. His mother Ernestine Wilkinson and brother Derrick Norman are key parts of the operation.

Sometimes he felt like giving up, especially after the fire, he acknowledged. “I just said, ‘I can’t quit. I’m not a quitter.’” The restaurant had its first day Feb. 8, and so far chicken and waffles is the top seller. “We don’t pre-cook anything,” he said. “Everything is made to order.”

The plan is to open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The phone number is 835-3473.

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