There were two things that brought Scott Paul back to Western New York two decades ago -- the chance to go into business with his brother and the fact that he just had to get away from the long commutes in Washington, D.C.
"He'd had enough of the two-and-half hour drive to work and the three-and-half hour drive home in DC traffic," Cregg Paul said. "He said, 'there's got to be a better way to live your life.' "
Scott packed up his belongings and headed to Batavia to help Cregg restore the former Batavia Times building and open in 1993 the Center Street Smoke House.
Yesterday, Scott Robert Paul died after a short illness. He was 57.
While Cregg has run the day-to-day operations of Center Street, Scott worked behind the scenes, in the back office and handling the marketing materials and menus for the popular restaurant.
Scott was always the creative type, Cregg said. He went to RIT for photography, remained an avid photographer, and was by trade a graphic designer. He was also a musician, loved playing guitar, played in bands and owned several guitars.
Among Scott's heroes was golfer Ben Hogan, and Cregg said Scott shared Hogan's trait for seeking perfection. Scott was also an avid golfer.
One of Center Street's iconic promotional gimmicks brought together Scott's visual sense with his love of music -- a black-and-white sedan, looking much like a police car from the 1970s, that was patterned after the old police cruiser in the movie "The Blues Brothers."
There were restaurants in Florida and Myrtle Beach, S.C., that used a Blues Brothers' car and Scott thought the theme would fit the Smoke House, which often features live music.
The brothers found the perfect sedan for sale on Ebay. It was being stored in a barn in Kansas. They had it shipped to Batavia and a friend converted it into a "bluesmobile."
The car would get strange looks on Batavia's streets, Cregg recalled, but the most memorable incident with the car happened in Rochester.
Scott and Cregg drove it to the big city to pick up some supplies and next thing they knew, a police car was flashing its lights.
Scott pulled over and a police officer approached and asked if he had a permit for the giant bullhorn on the roof.
Of course he didn't.
Cregg recalls the officer saying, "This is what we're going to do. You two guys are going to get out of that car. You're going to go over there and stand on the curb. Then, me and my partner are going to get into your car and you're going to take our pictures."
Cregg laughs recalling the story. "OK," Cregg said they told the officers. "We're OK with that."
The cops handed over their own Polaroid camera for the brothers to take pictures of them in the car and then of "arresting" them by the car.
Today, Cregg recalled Scott's life at Center Street, which he said Scott loved, and there were no tears, but lots of laughter.
The Auburn native liked to live life the way he wanted to live it, Cregg said.
"If somebody came in and said you should do this and you should do that, he would look at him and tell him don’t tell me what to do," Cregg said. "And that was the way he was. He said, 'I’m going to live my life my way on my terms.' "
And he had his own opinions -- many of them -- and he'd hold fast when he thought he was right.
"To his credit, he didn't compromise on very many things," Cregg said.
"It’s funny," Cregg added, "because T.J. (Woodward, of Gilmartin Funeral Home) asked me, 'was your brother a veteran?' I go 'no, but he did fight a lot of wars.' I said, 'he did win some, he lost some and he signed some peace agreements, but not many.' "
There will be a gathering from 1 to 4 p.m., Friday, at the Center Street Smoke House for close friends and family to honor Scott and remember his life.