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Restaurant Notes: Steakhouse design at Avant being finalized

Kitchen upgrades at Sear, the modern steakhouse coming to the Avant building, are underway today.

That means that the restaurant, which has attracted backing from former Buffalo Bills Fred Jackson, Brian Moorman and Terrence McGee, should be in play by November.

Old equipment is being removed, and a larger hood installed, said managing partner David Schutte. New equipment goes in at the end of September, followed by staff training. That puts a soft opening in mid-to-late October, Schutte said.

The steakhouse’s design is being finalized, with entrances from the Avant lobby and Delaware Avenue, he said. Plans call for a patio to be added in the spring.

Sear’s executive chef will be J.T. Nicholson, an Indianapolis native who was a sous chef for star Dallas chef Dean Fearing at Mansion on Turtle Creek and Fearing’s in the Ritz-Carlton. In Buffalo, Nicholson’s resume included Mike A’s under Mike Andrzejewski, 800 Maple and Rocco’s.

Sear’s menu will include steakhouse standards and innovative small plates, Nicholson said. “We’re going to pay respect to the traditions, but add our own ideas, especially in small plates, where we’re going to have a little fun.”

Expect meaty dishes like foie gras with sour cherry gel, duck confit bread pudding, and beef carpaccio with black garlic, pickled cippollini onions and cured egg yolk. Vegetables will include a finer version of salt potatoes, he said, and caramelized cauliflower head with olive oil and herbs.

New Theater District cafe: The brothers behind Mezza, the Elmwood Lebanese restaurant, are opening a “European-style café” on Main Street.

Peter Eid and brother Johnathan briefly opened their new Hearth + Press, 665 Main St., during Curtain Up! Friday night. The restaurant will reopen at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Hopefully it’ll have its liquor license by then, Peter Eid said. “If it doesn’t, we’ll still open, just not as hard.”

Hearth + Press will be an all-day restaurant, serving baked goods like baklava croissants, breakfast sandwiches and coffee in the morning. Salads, pizzas and more would be available for lunch and dinner. “We’re cooking Neapolitan-style pizzas on a hearthstone,” said Eid, “and we’ll give it a café vibe, with paninis, salads, baked goods and an espresso bar.”

Centered around an open hearth oven, the 50-seat restaurant’s picture windows face Main Street. Shea’s Buffalo Theatre is across the street.

A draft menu has pizzas from $12 (margherita, pomodoro pesto) to $16 (meatball). Baguette sandwiches ($5-10), salads ($8-12) and mussels in San Marzano tomatoes in white wine ($12) round out the eats offerings.

To drink, there’s French press coffee and espresso beverages, plus San Pellegrino and other soft drinks. When the liquor license is in, the restaurant plans to offer beer, wine and cocktails, including large-format cocktails serving four or five, presented in a French press.

Hours for now will be 8 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m., six days a week, closed Sundays, said Eid.

The Eid brothers considered several ideas for the space before deciding on the fast-casual concept, with pizzas that take about five minutes to prepare. “When you see the amount of business done on the block north of us, then the Medical Campus, and Shea’s,” Peter Eid said, “we felt this was absolutely perfect for Main Street.”

Texas Hots in North Tonawanda: Louie’s Texas Red Hots has opened a new restaurant in North Tonawanda.

The location, at 18 Webster St., is the company’s seventh. It’s also the first Louie’s Texas Red Hots in Niagara County.

The chain was founded by Louie Galanes in the 1960s. He owns the Webster Street location with daughters Argyrie Galanes, Stacey Galanes and Vaso Kroto.

Louie’s is known for staying open late, if not remaining open 24 hours. The NT store will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Other Louie’s Texas Red Hots locations on Bailey Avenue, Delaware Avenue and Elmwood Avenue, and in West Seneca, Depew and Orchard Park. - Samantha Christmann

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