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Veteran chef, wife plan new Gateway City Deli in downtown Buffalo

A retired executive chef and his wife have purchased the former Marco's Italian Deli business in downtown Buffalo's Genesee Gateway Building, where they plan to reopen a new sandwich shop, with a nod to Buffalo's history.

Jim and Sandra Carlo late last week bought the equipment and other assets – but not the name – of the restaurant from owner Mark Sciortino, who wanted to concentrate his efforts on his three other locations on Niagara Street, Hertel Avenue and Main Street in Williamsville.

Now they want to launch their own deli and sandwich restaurant, called The Gateway City Deli. It would still be located inside the historic building at Oak and Genesee streets, which is owned by Larkin Development Group and was renovated a few years ago, said Jim Carlo.

Gateway City Deli would initially focus on the lunchtime work crowd from downtown Buffalo and the nearby Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus. The menu would feature sandwiches and salads named after historic Buffalo buildings, like Ellicott Square, City Hall and the Old Post Office, while the decor would include information on the history of the city and particularly the building, which dates back to 1845.

For example, Carlo noted that Buffalo itself used to be called the Gateway City to the West, because it was the western terminus of the Erie Canal. And among previous occupants, George Urban used to run a flour mill in the Genesee Gateway building.

"There are a lot of interesting tidbits we're discovering," Carlo said. "We want to honor that history. So many cool people have been operating in there for the past 170 years."

The couple hopes to open the restaurant by July 2, after several weeks of minor renovations and preparing the new menu, Carlo said. The deli would be open initially from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, but he said he expects to eventually add breakfast items and hours as well.

Jim Carlo is a veteran chef, having worked for food-service company Sodexho as executive chef at M&T Bank Corp. and as the founder of the Chautauqua Cafe in the Larkin at Exchange Building. He also has taught culinary arts and hospitality management at Trocaire College's Russel J. Salvatore School for Hospitality and at Niagara County Community College's Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.

Previously, he spent a decade as a chef in the San Francisco and San Jose areas in California.

His wife, Sandra – known to many people as "Sam" – spent 33 years as an executive at UBMD Pediatrics.

Both are Buffalo natives who are now retired with no children. They have lived in the Waterfront Village community for the past 18 years.

"It's great to see the city take off," Jim Carlo said. "We're going to follow our dream and be a part of the resurgence of downtown."

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