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Restaurant notes: Amaretto Bistro, Grateful Grind, Pho Dollar

Amaretto Bistro's owners are more than doubling the size of the Transit Road restaurant.

The restaurant, at 7170 Transit Road in East Amherst, will go from 34 to about 90 seats, said chef-owner Richard Semonian. The restaurant will remain open throughout the project, except for two or three weeks at the end, in May, he said.

Its new dining room will be in the space where a vapor shop closed next door, said Semonian. The current restaurant will become a larger bar area, with a couple of communal tables. There will also be a banquet space in the rear of the building, capable of seating 75.

A kitchen expansion and facade work are also planned as part of the project. Construction is expected to start later this month, and last about two months.

A menu expansion is coming as well. "We're still going to be 100 percent scratch, making our own pastas, breads, desserts and ice creams," Semonian said. "There will be more bar offerings and lighter fare like sandwiches and bar snacks." Sunday brunch is coming, too.

"Right now I feel like we're serving really good food in a mediocre setting," said Semonian, who opened the place in 2011 with front-of-house manager David Petruzzi. "The new place is going to be a lot nicer. We're going to bump up the setting."

Richard Semonian, owner of Amaretto Bistro, at his restaurant in 2013. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

University Heights coffee: A new coffee shop opened in University Heights last month, offering nitro coffee, turmeric lattes and a light food menu.

Grateful Grind, 3225 Main St., is open seven days a week in the former Vasilis Express space.

Before opening the coffee shop, her first place, owner Angela Kunz worked at People Inc. for 20 years, finishing there as associate vice president.

When she designed the restaurant's interior, "I wanted everyone to be included, and feel as if they were walking into a home," she said. "I wanted it to be a judgement-free space where you could come and write a paper, or have coffee with your mom, anything."

Grateful Grind roasts and blends its own coffees, she said. One type is cold-brewed, then kegged and infused with nitrogen gas, and poured out of a stout tap. "The pour looks similar to a Guinness, visually appealing, cascading," she said.

The treatment results in a smoother taste and creamy affect, said Kunz. "I've had customers say, 'I didn’t want milk in this.' "

Other drinks include lattes made with turmeric or beetroot powder, and smoothies. Food includes breakfast sandwiches, bagels, wraps, salads, tacos and burgers.

In coming months, Kunz said, she will be training "some folks who are differently abled" so they can work at Grateful Grind.

As for the name, "I like the Grateful Dead," she said, "but it's also what are you grateful for?"

Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 831-3739.

Coffee and espresso shop The Grateful Grind, new to University Heights. (via Grateful Grind)

Pho Dollar sold: Pho Dollar, the West Side Vietnamese restaurant, is being sold.

Fortunately for fans of the restaurant, at 322 W. Ferry St., the new owner knows a lot about Vietnamese cuisine. It’s Minh Tran, one of the partners in 99 Fast Food, a long-serving Vietnamese restaurant at 3398 Bailey Ave.

The menu will stay the same, and the kitchen staff will stay the same, but customers can expect better service, especially at lunch, Tran said.

“We’re going to put in more servers at lunchtime,” he said. “A lot of people who work in offices only have an hour, 45 minutes for lunch.”

The ownership transfer from William Mai, who opened the restaurant in 2014, should take place with city approval this week, Tran said. “As soon as we have it, we’ll take over.” (Hat tip: Gabrielle Mattina)

Pho Dollar, at 322 W. Ferry St., is in the process of being sold. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

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