The Draft Room, a restaurant in a building across from KeyBank Center in the Cobblestone District, is on track to reopen in early fall.
Pegula Sports & Entertainment announced it has reached an agreement with a newly formed venture called Select Pour Ventures to manage the Draft Room, as well as a private club called Room 120, at 79 Perry St. Both establishments closed during the pandemic.
Marc Honan, who is part of SPV's management/ownership team, said he got a good sense of the Draft Room's potential when he was an executive with PSE.
"Its proximity to the arena is a huge opportunity," Honan said. "And looking at what they did in their full season, 2019, they had a great year, in terms of customer loyalty, following, the number of people who came into the establishment. I think we're excited to build on what they've already started growing."
Honan said he was confident customers will return after such a long absence. "People never stopped asking when they'd reopen," he said. "I think there's been a pent-up demand."
By early fall, there will be more activity around the arena, with the Sabres season starting, along with concerts and the Bandits season, Honan said.
Also coming back is Room 120. "They have a pretty healthy membership base, and that's been a constant," Honan said. "The memberships were on hold when Covid started and those members are excited to be able to come back."
SPV will have about 60 to 80 full- and part-time employees for operations at the Draft Room and Room 120.
Ron Raccuia, PSE executive vice president, called SVP the "ideal partner" to manage the Draft Room and Room 120.
“SPV shares our vision to make these properties into attractions that will enhance the fan experience and further establish the Canalside and Cobblestone districts as a year-round sports and entertainment destination.”
Honan said SPV's team wasn't ready to announce a more specific reopening date than early fall. PSE said the Draft Room will maintain most of its existing layout and will serve classic American fare.
Also part of SPV's team are Joe Mallare, who serves as managing partner, and general manager Jason Sunshine, who has worked in similar capacities in Las Vegas and locally with the Santora's Restaurant Group. SPV's team also includes business leaders Angela Marcolini and Phil Rapini.
PSE operates Terry and Kim Pegula's business holdings. In 2017, the Pegulas bought the building at 79 Perry St. and redeveloped it. The Draft Room and an adjacent business in the same building, called Labatt Brew House, opened in late 2018. Labatt Brew House has also been closed amid the pandemic.
"We’re still evaluating options for the Labatt Brew House," said Mary Beth Popp, a spokeswoman for Labatt. "No decisions have been made yet."
The Pegulas formerly operated a restaurant, (716) Food and Sport, at the nearby LECOM Harborcenter. Southern Tier Brewing Co. plans to open a location there in late September, said Derek Detenber, chief marketing officer for Artisanal Brewing Ventures.
In the same building, the Pegulas last year sold the Tim Hortons restaurant at LECOM Harborcenter to Kelton Enterprises, a franchisee based in Amherst.