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Downtown Buffalo restaurant boom ratchets up for August-October

Architect's view of the reinvigorated Main Street.
Architect's view of the reinvigorated Main Street.
500 Block Association

Some people tend to think of Buffalo as a city in decline. While it may be troubled in some segments, when it comes to restaurants it seems to be robust. And, much of the vibrance of that business segment appears to be a result of returning vehicular traffic to downtown.

The recent "Taste of Buffalo," arguably the biggest co-operative two-day restaurant festival in the nation, drew the usual tens of thousands of locals and visitors downtown to sample offerings from more than 60 restaurants and a half-dozen or so regional wineries. In addition, to all those restaurants, local consumers soon will be exposed to at least nine new downtown restaurants scheduled to open between August and October in the 500 block of Main Street and the Genesee Street entrance to the city's main business district.

Back in 1982, in an attempt to create an urban pedestrian mall, the city decided to block off vehicular traffic to the area. Experience since then shows that the "mall" idea never caught fire and, in fact, may have been keeping businesses and consumers away from the area. The city already has spent $80 million on undoing the '82 decision, and currently is seeking a federal Department of Transportation grant to cover most of the remaining $35 million expense of the current phase, with one more phase projected beyond that.

The reinvigoration project is known as "Cars Sharing Main Street." The plan covers a large portion of Main Street where the Metro Rail trains run above ground. It also calls for restoration of two-way traffic on Pearl Street. Total cost is expected to exceed $111 million.

Here's a sampling, with a tip of the hat to James Fink of the publication Buffalo Business First, of the restaurants scheduled to open over the next few months:

The Big Ditch Brewery at 51 East Huron Street; Raclette's at 537 Main Street; Oshun, a seafood-based restaurant, run by the operators of Shango, at 5 East Huron Street; Pomme Frites at 5 Genesee Street; D’Avolio’s Kitchen at 535 Main Street; the hot dog emporium Dog e Style on Genesee Street; both Marco’s Deli and Natalie’s in the Genesee Gateway Building; The Great American Grill at 10 Lafayette Building along with a to-be-named outdoor bar/patio at the same address.