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Ex-Oliver's chef to lead new Elmwood restaurant

Restaurateur Henry Gorino has put the kitchen of his newest restaurant in familiar hands.

Lennon Lewandowski will be the executive chef of JT's, the restaurant Gorino and partners plan to open next month in the mixed-use building at 905 Elmwood Ave.

Lewandowski was executive chef at Oliver's for years when Gorino and partners owned the Buffalo fine-dining restaurant. Lewandowski's tenure there ended in 2016, after the restaurant was sold.

At JT's, Lewandowski will be working with chef de cuisine Chris Smaldone, who has been the second-in-command at 800 Maple, Gorino said.

[READ: Andrew Galarneau's 2016 review of 800 Maple]

JT's is coming to 905 Elmwood Ave., in the first-floor space to the right, and the second-story space above it, with balcony. (Andrew Galarneau/Buffalo News)

The restaurant could open in the third or fourth week of April, Gorino said. First, it must hire and train about 70 people. JT's will be open seven days a week for dinner, lunch and Sunday brunch, he said. "We're going to be busy."

Its dishes will include wood-fired pizza, but the restaurant will aim higher than Rocco's, the partners' pizza-centric place on Transit Road. It'll be "a little more cutting-edge," he said.

[READ: Wood-fired chicken wings stood out in 2015 review of Rocco's]

JT's is named after John Tronolone, a Gorino partner, Oliver's maître d' and history teacher who died in 2013.

The two-story restaurant, part of a four-story building that includes retail space and apartments, has room to hold up to 200, said Gorino. That includes more than 20 at the bar, the main dining room, a first-floor patio, and second-story space that can include balcony tables.

[RELATED: More about Tronolone's life in his obituary]

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