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Molly Koessler on the Hatch, the summer and the future

Molly Koessler is one busy lady.

She runs multiple restaurants including AcQua, Molly’s on Main, Foundry Suites and Lafayette ballrooms. But this time of year she puts much of her focus on two waterfront properties: William K’s and The Hatch.

The City of Buffalo owns The Hatch at 329 Erie St. and Koessler and her husband William have the lease on the property, which is one of the more popular spots on Buffalo’s waterfront.

After all, at one point it was the only place to enjoy a meal at the water’s edge. To many, it is considered Buffalo’s original waterfront restaurant – an old standby there for you every summer. And if Koessler has her way, it will continue to evolve and expand.

Question: Some people might think of The Hatch as a hotdog stand. How are you trying to change that?

Koessler: We do have Sahlen’s hot dogs - they’re big, so is the fried bologna and falafel wraps. We tried to evolve from just a hamburger stand. We have the bar. We do a homemade seafood chowder. Then we have grab-and-go salads, fruit and parfait. We have healthy options. We have clams and ice cream.

It’s fun! The Hatch is one of my favorite properties. It is dog friendly. We get a lot of dogs. People travel the country for places where they can bring their dogs.

Fried bologna is a popular menu item with customers at The Hatch. (Elizabeth Carey/Special to The News.)

Q: You’re also a go to spot for downtown workers at lunchtime. When are you busiest?

A: Weekends are busiest - people come out of the walls. Mondays are really good. It’s definitely weather related. We pack them in. Rain will put us off.

Q: After all these years, the view at The Hatch still can’t be beat. How would you describe it?

A: It’s incredible. The lighthouse, the boats, the fire boat comes by. By next year we’ll have events on the lawn.

The Hatch's patio is popular spot for visitors and their dogs on warm summer days. (Elizabeth Carey/Special to The News.)

Q: What else do you have planned for the future?

A: This is our third season running The Hatch. We always try to change it around. We’ll change it this winter for next year.

Q: Can you share some of the ideas?

A: We have live bands or DJs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays now – all live entertainment. We used to have karaoke years ago and we’re looking to add that again. I’d love to get a farmers market down here and then have a farm-to-table dinner at night with items from the market. I’d love to do music on the lawn. I am full of ideas. I just need 12 more hours in every day.

Q: How does William K’s complement The Hatch?

A: William K’s is phase two of The Hatch - it’s more fine dining with a casual element thanks to Chef Todd [Lesakowski]. We started a happy hour at William K’s - $1 oysters, $8 pizza and $5 wine and beer. It’s Monday through Friday from 5-7.

William K's Vongole is a white pizza with clams, garlic, onion and oregano. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Q: How do you juggle so many restaurants at once especially during busy summer months?

A: We have a staff of thousands. You can’t let stress bother you. Just come put me to work.

Q: How long do people have to enjoy the waterfront dining before winter?

A: The Hatch is open until Oct. 15. William K’s - we’ll try to do all year through this year. The first year we had no advertising and we closed in November except for private parties and we reopened in March. I think we can make it work all year.

At William K's, a welcome table with a view

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