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Legal dispute prompts Snyder restaurant Siena to move

A legal dispute between Siena restaurant and its landlord has the Italian mainstay in Snyder on the move.

The owners of Siena plan to re-open the restaurant in the spring in a building they intend to buy -- located two blocks away from their current home.

The building at 4516 Main St., which currently houses Siena, was sold and would be made available for leasing to a new tenant starting next year, but the restaurant owners, Chuck Mauro and Henry Gorino, argued Siena's lease gave them the first right of refusal.

An appellate court sided with the restaurant owners and on Friday reversed a State Supreme Court ruling from December that dismissed their lawsuit.

"Obviously we're very pleased with the appellate court's decision," Mauro said Saturday. "They felt, as we did, there was some merit to our case."

But, Mauro said, the legal battle still isn't over yet and, uncertain how it may end, he still plans to relocate the restaurant.

Mauro said the Siena co-owners have made a purchase offer for 4614 Main St., at Roycroft Boulevard, two blocks east of Siena's current space. He said the building is about 5,000 square feet, larger than Siena's current 3,000-square-foot space.

Mauro said Siena can continue to operate at 4516 Main St. until the court case is resolved, but he expects the partners to close on the purchase of the new property in a couple months with a re-opening in the spring.

"We had no intention of moving," Mauro said. "This isn't by choice."

But Mauro said he and Gorino wanted to ensure the future of the restaurant and its 50 or so employees.

"Our customers have been very loyal," Mauro said. "It's part of the fabric of that neighborhood."

The property owner, First Amherst Development, issued a statement prior to Friday's ruling saying the building at 4516 Main St. would be available to lease starting next year.

"We have enjoyed an excellent 25-plus year business relationship with the owners of Siena restaurant and wish them nothing but the best in their next location," First Amherst President Benjamin Obletz said in the release.

Mauro said the restaurant's owners have been embroiled in a dispute with the property management company for several years.

The lawsuit, filed initially in State Supreme Court, has generated an extensive court file.

Mauro and Gorino argued Siena's lease gave them right of first refusal, if the owner of the building ever put it up for sale. That happened in December 2014.

The original owner and the new owner of the building are both companies affiliated with First Amherst. First Amherst and the companies deny the allegations in the lawsuit.

Mauro and Gorino lost in State Supreme Court but appealed that decision to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. The victory at the appellate level now kicks the case back to State Supreme Court, Mauro said.

If Mauro and Gorino do end up winning in court, the two would still buy the building at 4516 Main St. and decide what to do with the property.

First Amherst said Friday it's looking for an experienced restaurateur to take over the property Siena has leased.

"We are very excited to put this property back on the market and anticipate substantial interest in this location from the local restaurant and business community," Obletz said in the statement.

The upscale restaurant has been a popular spot for diners. The Buffalo News reviewed it in most recently in October 2014, giving Siena eight plates out of 10 and praising the veal cutlets.

Siena packs in faithful fans for more than wood-fired pizza

Mauro and his Siena co-owner have since worked together to open JT's Urban Italian at 905 Elmwood Ave., while maintaining Rocco's Wood-Fired Pizza in Clarence and 800 Maple in Amherst.

Starters: Grilled salmon salad, calamari at JT's

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