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New Gigi's, overwhelmed by soul food fans, closes for a day to regroup

Fans went gaga for Gigi’s when the soul food restaurant reopened Monday after a three-year hiatus.

Customers were so enthusiastic that they ran the staff ragged and pretty much ate the kitchen out of food.

By Wednesday, owner Darryl Harvin realized that, in order to restock and reorganize, Gigi’s needed a day off.

“We have underestimated our daily food supply needed to keep up with demand,” Harvin said in a statement Wednesday posted on Facebook by Common Council President Darius Pridgen.

“In addition,” Harvin wrote, “the number of employees needed to keep up with demand has been inadequate. So tomorrow, (Thursday) we will be taking a step back and closing to re-evaluate our supply and employee needs.”

“He expects to reopen on Friday,” said Dave Stebbins, executive vice president of Buffalo Urban Development Corp., which owns the Northland Workforce Training Center at 683 Northland Ave., where the new Gigi’s is located.

“It was a little overwhelming,” said Stebbins, who was there Monday. “It was sustained. All day long people were coming in. He just never expected this kind of community response.”

A fire in 2015 destroyed the original Gigi’s at Jefferson Avenue and East Ferry Street. Harvin's mother, Blondine, who owned the restaurant for more than 50 years, didn't get to see the new Gigi's open. She died Jan. 16.

“I think that Gigi’s has one of the best problems in the world to have for a new business,” Pridgen told The Buffalo News by phone Wednesday evening. “It was just overrun with customers. I saw great food and I saw a great staff moving very quickly.

“But when three people would leave, six more people would move in,” Pridgen said. “There was no way to predict that amount of people coming in. I saw a man come in and order a couple dinners and before he got to his car, he came back in and said, ‘I want some more.’ "

“It’s very difficult to predict when you open a restaurant what you will need,” he added. “What I am very proud of is that the new owner is very honest to tell his customers we’re going to step back and re-evaluate. I’m confident that they will open back up and be more prepared.”

'You can't have a Buffalo without a Gigi's': Popular soul food restaurant reopens

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