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Hertel's Roaming Bison Tavern prepares to reopen after flood

After 14 weeks closed and more than $70,000 in recovery expenses following a summer flooding, Roaming Bison Tavern owner Greg Herzog has announced the bourbon bar-restaurant is ready to reopen at 732 Hertel Ave.

Herzog aims to open either Nov. 26 or 27, pending the arrival and installation of beer lines. At the latest, he'll be open Black Friday. A grand-reopening party is slated for Dec. 7, with live music planned.

While there was some worry that the business might close due to the damage or seek a new location, Herzog cited the clientele he's built in the Black Rock, Riverside and North Buffalo neighborhoods as a major reason to stay put and carry on, even if no one could assure him that such a flood would never happen again.

Other than his participation in the Black Rock/Riverside Oktoberfest and a pop-up at Thirsty Buffalo, Herzog's business recovery came through his own resources – and support from some of his staff.

"It's all from my personal savings and loans I took out," Herzog said. "We didn't run a GoFundMe or anything."

An overnight downpour on Aug. 21 deposited more than 8 feet of water in the tavern's basement – thanks to Roaming Bison's location at the bottom of a hill – ruining everything from stored bourbon and the hot water tank to the point-of-service system and walk-in cooler.

The final touches of renovating and cleaning were completed over the last two weeks following an Erie County Health Department visit that laid out a list of must-dos before reopening.

His entire kitchen staff departed, but bar manager Julianna Beyo, bartender Paul Pijacki, Gino Urso and server Autumn Dietz all helped through the transition, joining Herzog and his father and brother. The Herzogs built two walls in the rear of the restaurant as a new dry storage area.

Roaming Bison is known for its strong stock of bourbon/blended whisky with an education-and-tasting night each Wednesday for $35. The food menu will remain roughly the same, with the addition of a Carolina barbecue sauce (with a Buffalo twist) to the smoked wings, as well as a loaded mac and cheese, available with either pulled pork, brisket or bacon.

The Bourbon Row, pre-flood, in Roaming Bison Tavern on Hertel. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

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