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Restaurant notes: Chez Ami, Towne Grille, Courtyard

Developer Mark Croce has assembled a culinary "dream team" to design and run the main restaurant in his new luxury hotel.

Seasoned restaurateurs Mark Warren and Mike Andrzejewski, with chefs Vincent Thompson and Edward Forster, will combine their talents to create Chez Ami's look, feel and food.

"I'm putting together a team that nobody's opened with in this city the last 30 or 40 years," Croce said. "Chefs from different eras, different ideas, different technical skills, guys that can really bring something special." The Curtiss Hotel, 210 Franklin St., offers 67 rooms and a revolving bar.

As with construction of the hotel itself, when it comes to assembling his culinary squad, Croce said, he is sparing no expense in an effort to make it the city's best.

The outside of the Curtiss Hotel, which will house restaurant Chez Ami. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

[GALLERY: A closer look at the new Curtiss Hotel]

Warren, of Warren's and Zuzon Bar and Grille fame, has been a restaurant consultant since he closed his restaurants. Andrzejewski owns and operates Seabar and Cantina Loco. Thompson is the current chef at Buffalo Chophouse, another Croce property. Forster has been the chef at Buffalo Proper, and the former Mike A's at the Lafayette.

The foursome is setting off on a research trip to New York City and other locations before returning to write the menu. The restaurant will open when the hotel does, Croce said. That's expected to be in April.

Thompson and Forster will be running the kitchen, with Forster also having a role in dining room management and front-of-the-house duties, Croce said. Besides overseeing kitchen construction, Warren will join with Andrzejewski in developing the menu and hospitality style of the restaurant.

[RELATED: $24 million later, Curtiss Hotel due for April opening]

Croce has given his new restaurant an time-honored name. Chez Ami was a glitzy Delaware Avenue supper club and prime city hotspot for decades. The new one will be a fine-dining restaurant with room for 120 at tables and banquettes. Like the original, it will feature a revolving bar. Twelve seats will rotate around a stationary bar once or twice each hour.

More seats will be available on a sidewalk-side area, open to the breeze in good weather.

[RELATED: 50-seat patio planned for Chez Ami]

In its time, the old Chez Ami was the best place in town. Croce's goal is for Chez Ami to regain that title. "From top to bottom," he said, "this is going to be the best of the best."

Tonawanda gets burger option

A small family restaurant called The Towne Grille has replaced the former Chinese Dumpling House in Tonawanda.

At The Towne Grille (1000 Ellicott Creek Road), a burger-and-fries-centered menu starts with burgers that pressed from fresh ground beef each morning, said owner Josephine Miller.

There's also hot dogs, steak sandwiches, pulled pork and tuna melt sandwiches, regular and sweet potato fries, fried pickles and onion rings. A cheeseburger is $4.

The menu also includes a Towne Plate, similar to Rochester's famous Garbage Plate: burgers, hot dogs or other meat on a bed of macaroni salad and French fries, covered in meat sauce, with ketchup, mustard and chopped onion. At $9.75 for a full version, it tops the menu.

The restaurant opened Jan. 23. Miller said she operated a similar restaurant in Rochester. It's a family business, involving her husband, mother, brother and others.

Before summertime, Miller said she expects to start offering ice cream. Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call 743-4000.

Courtyard adds weekends

Courtyard, the downtown Greek diner, is adding weekend service.

"We do a great lunch during the week, but I'd love to serve some of the people moving downtown, into these lofts," said owner George Kallas.

The restaurant, 127 Franklin St., is in the Fernbach parking ramp. "On weekends, it's free parking here, so I figured I could feed some of them breakfast and lunch."

[Downtown's Courtyard restaurant is quick, convenient and friendly, Cheap Eats review says]

On March 4, it'll start serving Saturdays and Sundays too, he said. The hours will be the same: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kallas has run the restaurant for 22 years, the first decade at 120 Delaware Ave., where the federal courthouse is now.

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