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September 7, 2017 - 1:06pm

Press release:

A new restaurant ownership training course is slated to begin in October featuring two monthly classes over the winter, or approximately 26 hours of training that concludes in February.

The program involves two juried tastings that each class participant is required to prepare. Registration opens online Friday, Sept. 8th at www.freshLabBatavia.com. Top contestants of the freshLAB Foodie Challenge may win free tuition to attend the freshLAB Boot Camp. 

A range of small business specialists and industry experts have been coordinated by the Batavia Development Corporation to prepare the aspiring restaurant owners for a business sector that is reported to have a multimillion dollar opportunity in Genesee County.

Genesseans are assumed to spend approximately $20,000,000 to eat, drink and be entertained some place other than Genesee County. The downtown strategy is to keep the dining dollars local by becoming a dining and entertainment destination that will capitalize on the market opportunity.

“We are hosting a Foodie Challenge Sept. 23rd to stir food creativity,” said Barb Shine, coordinator of the program and Batavia Development Corporation Board member. “Good flavors come first, we want creative cooks to consider opening his/her restaurant.

"To follow, we’ve assumed a bigger role to coordinate the Boot Camp. We’ve corralled the necessary resources and experts for talented and industrious operators to seriously consider the restaurant business.”

Research and local experience shows that a written business plan is not a sufficient judge of a candidate’s readiness to get started or grow. In fact, 59 percent of hospitality businesses fail within three years according to Restaurant Management Software POS Sector study. One reason for failure is noted as the lack of a strong concept setting the business apart from the competition.

The Boot Camp instruction has carved-out more than three hours to discuss the trends and market opportunities in food service, a highly competitive and shifting business.

“What’s your 'Because?” " asked Katie Frilllici, representative of JFS/Curtze food distributor. “You must have a compelling reason for people to select your eatery over another.” 

JFS/Curtze should know, they have been in the food business for 135 years. Frillici and her colleagues have been invited to participate as guest instructors for the Boot Camp where they, too, will share trade ideas to help develop a winning concept. JFS/Curtze is a full-line food service distributor now serving eight states.

Other select instruction will be led by Palmer Food Services, Chef Tracy Burgio of Batavia Career & Technical Education Center and Matt Gray, entrepreneur and owner of five restaurants. Legal, insurance and regulatory representatives in addition to agriculture business educators will be on hand.

Tentative Boot Camp program schedule:

  • October: Program Orientation and introduction of restaurant operations, concepts, etc.;
  • November: “Back of House” featuring inventory management, food safety in addition to a juried tasting prepared by Boot Camp participants;
  • December: Finance and accounting for the restaurant business, freshLAB support area;
  • January: Concept development and business pitch, topped with final juried tasting;
  • February: Independent study, final business plan due;
  • March: two candidates will each open a restaurant at freshLAB restaurant incubator turn-key space, pre-approved for a $30,000 special rate loan

Industry experts will lead the classroom training in operations, marketing and financial management. Other mentors will guide menu planning to inventory management, distributor purchasing to farm sourcing. Estimated Course Value more than $1,300 being offered for $349.

The Boot Camp is considered a prerequisite for entrepreneurs considering to lease space at the new freshLAB restaurant incubator foodhall now under construction on Main Street, Batavia. The Foodie Challenge will reward the top five competitors by offering TUITION FREE invitation to the Boot Camp.

freshLAB restaurant incubator was conceived to strengthen the local food service industry and capitalize on more than $20,000,000 that leave Genesee County each year when residents eat, drink and enjoy entertainment elsewhere.

The project is funded, in part, by USDA Rural Development to intentionally link regional agriculture to the menu. A program coordinated by the Batavia Development Corporation in cooperation with the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Batavia Business Improvement District and Batavia Career & Technical Education Center. https://freshlabbatavia.com/

August 3, 2017 - 10:25am
posted by Maria Pericozzi in corfu, Three T's Family Diner, news, restaurants, business.

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A few members of the Toy family, from left to right, Coby, Tracy, Wade and Tyler.

Wade and Tracy Toy have five kids and know the struggle of getting a good meal for a large family, without breaking the wallets.

That’s why they opened Three T’s Family Diner, located at 2 Corfu Plaza in Corfu. While they live in Cheektowaga, the travel time is worth it, Tracy said.

“It seemed like the small town didn’t have much going for it,” Tracy said. “We figured if we do this, maybe other things would pick up and the town would be back to where it was years ago.”

Wade and Tracy found the Corfu location on Craigslist and thought the place had potential.

They started renovating the location in January and finished in May. Wade said they stripped everything right down to the firewalls.

Wade used to drive a truck and Tracy was a railroad clerk, up until the beginning of this year.

“We both quit our jobs to put our time and effort into the diner,” Tracy said.

Tracy said they plan to leave the diner to their kids, Jessica, 23, Joshua, 21, Jacob, 19, Tyler, 15, and Coby 13.

“We also have a 4-year-old grandson that comes here,” Tracy said. “He gives out the menus and straws.”

The hope is that further down the road, Wade and Tracy will pass the diner along to their kids, while they go mobile and purchase a food truck for events and parties.

For locals, if they have ideas for what should be on the menu, Tracy and Wade are open to suggestions.

“We’ll try it out,” Tracy said. “Even if we don’t know what it is, we will look it up and figure it out.”

Wade said one customer requested chipped beef and gravy last week, which has been added to the specials. Tracy said they hope to receive a lot of feedback from customers.

The diner is open every day of the week, except Wednesday, from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., and accepts cash only.

They just started with takeout and delivery only to local businesses.

Tracy said they hope to expand to dinner hours in the near future.

“People can come here with their families and have a good, decent meal,” Tracy said. “Then, they can leave with money in their wallet and still be able to take their kids out.” 

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The diner is located behind the carwash in the Corfu Plaza, next to the American Family Market.

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May 10, 2017 - 4:12pm

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A group of writers and photographers, mostly food and wine critics from Monroe County, were in Le Roy last night to be the first to experience Farmer's Creekside Inn.

Ten years have passed since Bill Farmer, chairman of Catenary Construction in Rochester and a specialist in historical preservation of concrete and masonry buildings, saw the Creekside Inn for the first time.

It wasn't a pretty sight. Three years earlier the Creekside had been destroyed by a fire people in Le Roy still talk about.

"Part of it is the environment," Farmer said about what attracted him to buying and restoring the 200-year-old building. "It was a vision when I first looked at the building, and it was in dire shape.

"It was collapsing. It was ravaged by fire. But I took a look at the environment, the setting, the historic structures that are across the creek, the composite of the village itself, the post office across the street, and I thought this was just an unbelievable setting that was unrecognized."

He decided to set out and create a dining and hospitality destination that was second to none in Western New York.

The preview dinner last night was the first time Farmer could see that vision start to come into focus in a meaningful way. There's still a lot of work to do on the interior of the building before Farmer's Creekside Tavern & Inn opens to the public on June 5, but Farmer said he has the right people in place to make it happen.

"It’s really overwhelming-- this event, this private little dinner we hosted tonight was a culmination of a fast track of putting the kitchen together, hanging the final fixtures," Farmer said. "The floors are only three days old. It’s really a tad overwhelming to see it come so beautifully, full of life, and so many people here enjoying the experience and seeing the staff perform. I just feel so flattered and honored to have the staff we have."

It's been eight years since The Batavian first paid a visit to the Creekside and met Farmer. We've dropped in several times over the years since and been impressed each time with the attention to detail; the quality Farmer is investing in the building. The new floors are real hardwood; the interior railings are oak, the fixtures are the highest quality and the amenities -- exterior patio and bar with a gas fireplace, a tavern, a fine dining room, guest rooms on the top floor -- are well thought out and designed.

As the opening day approaches, it's clear Farmer has given the same attention to detail in hiring his staff, with Chris Grocki as general manager and Sean Wolf as executive chef.

"I’ve always felt blessed by the people that I employ," Farmer said. "I've had people working for me now for well into a 30-year span. I value my employees. I recognize their efforts. It’s just so rewarding when you put together a good team, and they go out and execute the plan. That holds true with everything we do whether it’s real estate development or masonry and concrete services, masonry restoration services, and now it's going into our food and hospitality services."

Farmer said he decided on Grocki and Wolf as his top leadership in the restaurant several months ago and said throughout the process he's convinced he made the right choices.

During his opening remarks before the dinner, Grocki was equally effusive about his new boss.

"Opening a restaurant is a labor of love, and we’ve got a family here that has no shortage of it," Grocki said, adding, "I’ve never had the pleasure of working for somebody who has gone for it in quite this way. You always say, 'You don’t do anything like anybody else does.' and clearly that’s true."

One of the key people in helping the restaurant, tavern and inn come together so beautifully, Farmer said, was interior designer Jason Longo. Longo said Farmer was a special client.

"Chris and I had worked on a project before, and I called Chris one night," Longo said, "and I was nearly in tears, and I said, 'I can't believe that in my career' -- which has been going on for some time now -- 'that I've ever worked on a project where people gave everything, from the carpenters to the electricians. Every single person who has worked on this project is so invested and so involved.' "

Farmer said he just had a passion for the project since the day he saw the building and has made sure he's had the right people in place to make sure the vision became a reality.

"It seemed pretty clear to me when I came to the building, looked at the site, saw the surroundings, stone building, 200 years old almost, I hate to say it, but for me, it was a no-brainer to get involved in," Farmer said.

"You’ve got to have a passion for it," he added. "I think that’s the driving force. I fell in love with this place. I fell in love with the building. The site. Part of the experience of rehabbing and building it and meeting all the challenges and solving all the issues are a great part of it."

The dinner consisted of multiple courses loosely paired with wines, mostly from the Finger Lakes. It started with a ceviche of Alaskan halibut, bitter spring greens, truffle chicken, followed by a surf and turf and a dessert of foie gras. Wines included a Hermann J. Wiemer Blanc de Noir 2011, Ravines Dry Riesling Argetsinger Vineyard 2012, Palo Cortado 'Peninsula' Sherry' and a Benanti Etna Bianco 2015, among others.

The idea, Grocki said, was to give guests a sample of what will be served in the tavern and in the fine dining room, known as the Cleveland Room, which will serve fine dining, destination, and special occasion meals four days a week. The fine dining room, the tavern, the patios, all told, will seat 400 people.  

Farmer thinks the Creekside Inn will become a destination location, drawing people from throughout the region, especially Buffalo and Rochester.

"I had no idea initially how important of a project this would be, but over the years it’s become apparent," Farmer said. "I’ve realized this is a significant, significant project for Western New York, the Town of Le Roy, the county. It’s a very meaningful project, and I’m flattered and privileged to be that guy doing it."

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Truffle chicken

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Surf and turf

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The tavern, still under construction

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One of the inn's guest rooms.

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Bill Farmer, Sean Wolf, Chris Grocki

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Bill's son, Bill, daughter Hailey, who will run fine dining, her son Ryder, and Bill Farmer.

October 7, 2016 - 4:14pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, news, restaurants, fab fajita & pita, business.

An array of fresh, healthy, tasty salads, wraps, fajitas, pitas and "fun food" like Jersey Shore "Disco fries" is offered at a new eatery on West Main Street in Batavia's Valu Plaza.

Fab Fajita & Pita is a place where you can "Wrap up some WOW!" The menu boasts a moveable feast that spans the globe: Mexico, Italy, Sicily, Greece, Asia with options to build your own or suit to your liking.

If you have a sweet tooth, you'll appreciate the flaky, honey-laden baklava, moist cookies and hefty brownies -- all made from scratch.

"What we offer is fresh, high quality, afforable food," said owner Victor Canastraro, who lives in East Amherst and would like his first foray into the restaurant business to be successful enough to grow into several locations.

Crafting the menu and trying out different combinations and flavor profiles took time. The result is a range of uncommon fare prepared in a spotlessly clean kitchen for diners in a spotlessly clean, spacious eating area.

Some menu items that "just hit" and just right, too:

One appetizer is the Red Eye Fries ($4.25) -- fries topped with two eggs sunny side up and a spicy Sriracha sauce that "will make your eyes pop!" The Asian Salad ($5.95) is made up of a fresh spring lettuce mix with mandarin oranges, Roma tomatoes, fresh strawberries, sliced almonds, served with sesame ginger vinagrette, topped with crispy Asian noodles.

"The Greek" ($5.95) is a traditional pita filled with gyro meat -- a mixture of beef and lamb perfectly seasoned, with lettuce, tomato and feta cheese, topped with a snappy Tzatziki sauce. "The Sicilian" ($6.50) features succulent calamari, wrapped with lettuce, tomato, lemon juice and topped with a special homemade sauce.

At Thanksgiving time, they plan to offer a wrap and/or pita that will include turkey, stuffing and gravy.

"We experimented," Canastraro said. "We wanted something that explodes in your mouth. I enjoy making flavor. I pride myself on being creative."

He has some experience in the flavor department. For the better part of the last decade, he has grown a successful chain of electronic cigarette shops, and flavor is mighty important to e-cig consumers. He has two stores in Rochester, one in Irondequoit, one in Gates, one in Depew, and two in Florida.

The 43-year-old also knows the food business can be "a nightmare" -- his dad was in the restaurant business. But he's up to the challenge of building something from the ground up after an official with Valu Plaza convinced him that a specialty restaurant would be a good fit for the location.

Getting it ready to open was "a hell of an awakening."

He spent $80,000 on new equipment that included refrigerators and freezers, new paint, new tables and chairs. He took some solace in at least not having to buy a new heat and fire-suppression system. That was, until an inspector came out and found two holes on the sides of the existing system (used at this former restaurant site) and said it, too, would have to be replaced.

Done.

A week ago Monday, some friends and family and a few others stopped by for a training day, which ended up being quite busy and prompted some additional equipment purchases. Fab Fajita & Pita officially opened Sept. 30.

His credits his father, the son of Sicilian immigrants, with teaching him the value of hard work.

"My father was the kind of guy who always had a full-time job, plus a part-time job," Canastraro said. "He always told me 'If you want anything in this world you have to work for it.' "

One lesson was learned when the younger Canastraro became a new father at age 20 and money was tight. His utility bill came due and he needed money to pay it. He asked his dad for help. His dad said "Are you hungry? Come over and I'll feed you a bologna sandwich. You need a loan? Go to the bank."

"It was the best thing he could have taught me," Canastraro says in hindsight.

Eventually, the grandson of Sicilians got into the mortgage and finance business and succeeded. He's lived in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Fla., and in Colorado.

In sensing the economic climate and the state of the real estate business in 2007, he convinced his wife, Dawn, to sell their assets in 2007 and move back to Buffalo in 2008. It was a fortuitious move.

"I like Buffalo," says its native son. "People drive a Chevy Impala if what they can afford is a Chevy Impala, not a BMW."

Dawn is the baker in the family. He credits her with the ability to make "50-pound brownies" that will have you "grinning from ear to ear."

"It's all about love," Canastraro said, noting he is "blessed with an unrivaled faith in God." "Take care of people. If you do that -- the guy upstairs -- whatever you want to call it -- takes care of us."

To that end, he said he hopes to grow with the community in Genesee County, which he believes is uniquely poised for growth, and be charitable, especially to first responders, the disabled and veterans.

Fab Fajita & Pita is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. Closed Sunday. The address is 4125 W. Main Street Road. (www.fabfajita.com).

June 28, 2016 - 12:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown, Carter's, news.

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Yes, dreams can come true, and so far, they have for Brenden Mullen, who eight years after going to work in his father's restaurant, formerly Larry's Steakhouse, is now the owner of Carter's in the same location.

But the dream doesn't stop there. Carter is the name of his 9-year-old son, and if dreams really do come true, it will be Carter someday welcoming you at the front door or serving you a drink.

"If I can, I'll get Carter's successful and then 10, 15 years down the road, I'm on my way down South and I'll leave this place for him to take over if he wants," Mullen said.

It's been seven months since Larry's closed so Mullen could revamp the restaurant and put his own mark on it. There was a lot of planning and work into getting the doors open again, he said, which happened today.

The theme of the new restaurant is nautical with a nod toward the Northeast seafaring tradition.

Naturally, the menu is filled with seafood appetizers and entrees.

"I spent the past seven months coming up with different menu ideas," Mullen said. "When I started narrowing it down, the result was predominately seafood, and then when I got to thinking about it, it seemed like a good idea, our niche, so to speak."

Mullen enjoys the restaurant business, he said, because he loves food and he loves people.

"When I was 21 years old, looking for something to do, I thought, there's no better way to make a living than working in a restaurant," Mullen said. "I love food and I love going out to dinner, and you can't be in this business if you're not a people person. To be able to hang out and mingle with my friends and customers, it really doesn't get much better, in my opinion."

February 6, 2015 - 12:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, food, John & Mary's.

He's Ted and she's Mary and together they're the new owners of John & Mary's in Batavia.

If that sounds a little confusing, it might help to know a bit of the history of the venerable Erie County group of entries. 

John Guida opened his first sandwich shop in Cheektowaga in 1952. Mary, his wife, insisted her name be added to the sign, so it was. (Mary Guida is 88 and reportedly still working.)

Ted Ulm was born and raised in Cheektowaga and went to culinary school, became a chef, worked in a supper club and a bakery and hooked up with an instructor who owned a Greek catering business when he was 18.

"Once I learned the ropes, he could run two jobs a day," Ulm said.

That led to a connection with John & Mary's and eventually, Ted Ulm owned his own John & Mary's location in Cheektowaga. 

He opened another location in Alden in 1999, which he still owns. He opened another in Arcade that he later sold, but he does own Theo's Greek Family Restaurant in Arcade.

He married Mary in 2009, and the coincidence of her name has led many people, Ted said, to assume his name is John.

The name may be different, but the quality is the same, Ulm said.

"Everything I make is all homemade, our dough, our sauces, our Souvlaki is out of this world," Ulm said. "I win awards with it all the time."

"It's a bigger menu, but it's all quality food," he added. "We use all of John & Mary's recipes. I stick by what they did in 1952. Their homemade hot sauce, top-line mayonnaise, top of the line cold cuts."

This John & Mary's is actually the second in Batavia. There was a John & Mary's here in 1974 and '75.

When Ted and Mary moved to Corfu, they started thinking it was time to bring John & Mary's back to Batavia.

From the time Ted opened his first John & Mary's in 1990, he expanded the menu so that there would be something for everybody. 

There's a full Greek menu and a full Mexican menu, Ulm said.

"John & Mary's is a place where a family can come and everybody will be happy," Ulm said.

John & Mary's is located at the old Scooter's location, 3711 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

CORRECTION: The information about Mary Guida came from the John & Mary's web site, which is apparently very out of date. Mary Guida passed in 2007.

July 23, 2014 - 2:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, Pasquale's.

The New York Times writer Eliane Sciolino says, "the perfect bistro is a place where the dishes are traditional, the ingredients seasonal, the service attentive, the price acceptable and my relationship with the chef close enough that I can visit the kitchen when the meal is over."

Welcome to Pasquale's.

Mama Fasano promised us an intimate eatery filled with the treasures of family and the recipes of generations served in a warm and friendly atmosphere.

She's kept her promise.

The restaurant, at 341 Ellicott St., opened two months ago -- lunchtime only -- and is packed every afternoon.

It's the perfect kind of small lunch place for Batavia -- Italian classics such as ravioli, chicken cacciatore, tripe soup, pasta fazool, prepared and served by a longtime, local family, seated among your friends and neighbors (if you know anybody in Batavia at all, you'll run into people you know at Pasquale's).

The menu features a regular rotation of daily specials, plus a select few daily standards (for example, pasta and meatballs, of course, or beans and greens). Everything is fresh and homemade and as delicious as it looks. For your sweet tooth, try the cheesecake, which is thin and scrumptious, and comes with a dollop of real whipped cream on the side.

Batavia is blessed with a bounty of excellent, locally owned restaurants. Pasquale's is another great addition.

June 19, 2014 - 6:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, the Rack Shack.

How far would you drive for really good BBQ? Yesterday, somebody reportedly drove 70 miles to try out Batavia's newest BBQ joint -- The Rack Shack, on Ellicott Street Road.

Open just a week and with little fanfare, the owners of the new restaurant are finding their location just a bit outside the city is well suited to the business they want to build.

"The location presented itself and we thought it was a good opportunity," said co-owner Mandee Hopkins.

The location was most recently Rosie's Diner. Rosie's nor the prior diner, Fedora's, really worked out for those owners. But Hopkins said she and her partners like the location because of the high volume of traffic on Route 63, the fact that the east side of Batavia -- with the ag park -- is growing, and they are confident good BBQ will make the restaurant a destination for smoked pork and beef aficionados.

The co-owners are her husband Jason, who has 25 years experience in the restaurant business, including working as head chef at the Hillside Inn and sous chef at the Valley Inn, and Jim and Melissa Penders. Jim is an award-winning BBQer who has worked in catering for 15 years.

"BBQ is what they love," Mandee said. "It's what they love to eat. It's what they love to cook, and it's a skill that needs to be mastered."

Mastered it, they have. The menu boasts that the pork ribs are so tender they melt off the bone. They'll never be accused of false advertising on that point.

The menu is filled with Southern flavor, from cole slaw to collard greens to cajun catfish along with WNY favorites such as salt potatoes, Pittsburgh salad, and their own version of the garbage plate, called the Shack Attack.

"We want to offer a warm, comfortable atmosphere where people can enjoy their food," Mandee said. "We believe in high standards and treating people like family."

March 17, 2014 - 9:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, YUME Asian Bistro.

It was Kevin Xaio's cousin who suggested the young chef open a restaurant in Batavia.

Xaio, who lived and worked in New York City, tried to find out all he could about Batavia and the local restaurant market, Xaio said.

"It's six hours," Xaio said, "I drive here more than 10 times. I check out everything. Other businesses, Applebee's, dine-in restaurants, how are they doing, and how is traffic, how is the casino. I check all and the past history and see that the people here are nice and I think with the traffic here we're going to have a nice business."

A little more than a week ago, Xaio, and his partner, Chris Huang, opened Yume Asian Bistro at 4140 Veterans Memorial Drive.

An article in The Batavian helped alert local sushi aficionados to Xaio's and Huang's plans and the business is off to a good start.

"It's amazing," said Xaio with a broad smile.

He smiles often when talking about his new business. And he's most pleased that many customers have already been back three times within a week, trying something different on the menu with each visit.

There are a few facts to correct from that original article, which was based on a conversation at a public meeting that neither Xaio nor Huang attended.

Xaio doesn't own any restaurants in NYC. Neither he nor Huang are planning to return to NYC (Huang moved here from New Jersey, not NYC). They've both taken up residence in Batavia and both work at the restaurant full-time with no plans to leave.

Xaio grew up in a small town in Missouri, near St. Louis, which is part of the reason he liked Batavia as a possible location for his dream restaurant. 

"The location is good and the people are nice," Xaio said. "That is the most important. It is country-sized. I'm from country-sized."

Xaio's father has been a chef for 30 years and Xaio started working in the kitchen at 16 years old and has been a chef now for 10 years.

When he talked with a cousin, who lives in Batavia, about his ambition to open his own restaurant, his cousin told him Batavia had only three Chinese restaurants, no other Asian cuisine and no sushi.

"At first, I didn't think sushi would be good for people here, but I hang around and I ask people, do you like sushi and they say yeah, I do, but I need to drive 30 or 35 minutes to Rochester or Buffalo to get it," Xaio said. "Then I think, I need a sushi bar here, and alcohol, that's what I think."

Yume doesn't have its liquor license yet, but the blue-lit bar in back has three wide, empty shelves, and it's looking thirsty for clear glass and amber and green bottles of whiskey, scotch, gin, vodka and other spirits.

Huang is the sushi chef. He's been preparing sushi for 10 years. He became a popular sushi chef in New Jersey, Xaio said.

"When Chris started in a restaurant there, it is low business, right, but after Chris there, it is high," Xaio said. "The business is growing because of Chris."

Huang's English is not as good as Xaio's, so he answers questions in just a few words.

He said people should eat sushi because it's healthy.

"It's good for the body," he said.

Huang's sushi speaks for itself. 

There is an art to making sushi. It's about blending flavors, colors, shapes and dimensions on plates that are as pleasing to the eye as to the palate.

Batavia resident Michael Robbins is one of those customers who has already returned at least three times since the restaurant opened. 

Part of the appeal is that the menu contains rolls he's never tried before, such as the marble roll and the Godzilla roll.

He has primarily come back, though, because of the flavor and freshness of the fish. He's also impressed by the presentation, he said.

"It's really all about taste, but it's nice that they put such detail in it, because to me, if they're putting out a great presentation, it shows a lot of care," Robbins said. "It shows they care a lot about what they're doing. That's the thing that impresses me is they care a lot about what they're doing. That's what the presentation means to me. 'We worked hard on this for you.' "

Robbins and his wife have regularly driven to Buffalo for sushi and they were excited that Yume was opening across from Walmart.

"We kept checking and checking and it opened, and my wife and I said 'Ok it's open. Let's go.' And it was really enjoyable experience."

The sushi hits another sweet spot for Robbins. It's affordable and Huang serves up hearty rolls with plenty of fish. Robbins is saving the expense of a trip to Buffalo, he said, and he's not paying as much for the same quality.

"It's a big lump of fish mixed with a lot of good ingredients and there's plenty of it," Robbins said. "When you buy a roll you want to be filled up after you pay for the roll. A lot of times when you buy a roll somewhere else and it's not packed with sushi, it's not going to fill you up."

Jeff McIntire brought his family into the bistro for the first time Friday night and his three children seemed as to be excited to be there as he was. There was Derek 12, Kayla 11, and Randy, 8.

Soon after the children were seated at a table, they headed over to the sushi bar and clambered up on three chairs where they could watch Huang and his assistants work their magic on gorgeous creations of fish, rice and vegetables. 

Derek and Randy are more the California Roll-type sushi diners, but Kayla has already expanded her options, McIntire said.

Asked if she loved sushi, Kayla's eyes got big, she grinned and we learned that sometimes the word "yes" contains more than three letters. 

A former Marine, McIntire was deployed in Japan a few times, but never tried sushi in its country of origin. It wasn't until he was stationed in California that he ate sushi for the first time.

He started, as many neophytes do, with the California Roll.

Sushi was first introduced in the United States in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Chef Ichiro Mashita, at the Tokyo Kaikan restaurant, is credited with developing the California Roll by trying to incorporate avocado into a roll. A California Roll is comprised of cucumber, crab meat and avocado (though there are variations).

It's become a popular dish in the United States, though scorned in Japan.

But it's a place to start, McIntire acknowledged, especially for his children. You can work your way up to raw fish.

When you know sushi, you know what good sushi is, Robbins said. He compared it to the kind of hamburger you get at a place like Fudrucker's to what you might expect from a drive-thru joint. One is a meal made from fresh, quality ingredients, and the other is just thrown together for quick consumption.

An ironic comparison since sushi is kind of the original fast food.

Sushi as we know it today was invented, most likely, by Hanaya Yohei near the end of Japan's Edo period (roughly the 1860s). He created a meal that could be made quickly with inexpensive ingredients and eaten by hand (no chopsticks required) by people on the go.

When the government outlawed sushi street vendors, the cooks moved indoors into restaurants and became chefs and sushi evolved into an art form.

Though sushi has become popular in this country -- seemingly passing the trend stage many years ago and skirting the edge of mainstream -- Americans often eat sushi all wrong according to some.

To understand how to eat sushi, it helps to understand what it is and how it's made.

The key ingredient is vinegared rice. It is Japanese rice mixed with a dressing of rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Sometimes a wrapper is used. The wrapper is usually a kind of seaweed that has been dried, compressed and rolled paper thin. 

We generally think of sushi as raw fish, and while that might be the heart of the sushi experience, main ingredients can also be a variety of cooked meats -- octopus, squid and shellfish are always cooked -- or vegetables. 

When you get your plate of sushi, it will likely contain a dab of wasabi (a green paste similar in taste to horseradish). There will also be an empty dish where you might pour a little soy sauce.

You may also receive a dish of pickled sliced ginger, which acts as a palate cleanser between bites, the way a wine connoisseur might use crackers between tastings.

For a visitor to Yume Asian Bistro on Thursday, one of the sushi chefs, Jerry Zhao, explained the dishes and how to eat them.

Starting with a type of sushi called nigirizushi -- an oblong, hand-pressed serving of rice and a cut of raw fish placed on top -- Zhao said there are a few options on how to eat it. In Japan, it would probably be eaten as presented, with no soy sauce, no added wasabi (the chef has already placed some wasabi under the fish).

It's traditional to use your fingers to pick up nigirizushi, but chopsticks are acceptable.

Americans, typically, will place some soy sauce in a dish and mix in a dash of wasabi, Zhao explained. Some might put a dab or three of wasabi on top of the fish.

What's more important than how you use wasabi, or whether you grab the serving with your fingers or chopsticks, is what you do next.

What you don't want to do is try to cut the fish or let the rice touch the soy sauce (the rice will soak up too much soy sauce, destroying the flavor of both the rice and the fish, and cause the packed rice to fall apart).

Rather, you turn the nigirizushi-fish-side first into the soy sauce. Just a dab will do it.

You then put the whole piece into your mouth, fish side on your tongue.

For a roll, you would likely not dip it in your wasabi-soy-sauce mix.

For traditionalists, they eat sushi as served, and it's chef's choice, not the diner's. In Japanese, "trust the chef" translates into "omakase." In some sushi bars, diners have no other choice.

At Yume Asian Bistro, of course, the choices are much more expansive. There is a menu loaded with an array of sushi choices, such as chirashi, sashimi, spicy maki, eel dragon roll, thunder roll, Mexican roll and naruto maki. Sushi can also be ordered a la carte.

While Huang runs the sushi bar, Xaio is in charge in the kitchen, which provides both additional Asian flavors to experience, but also gives the person not ready to try sushi meal options while the rest of their party may be in the mood for some raw yellowfin tuna or striped bass. 

Xaio's kitchen is well equipped with all-new restaurant-quality ovens, burners and grills and he has plenty of helping hands to aid in fast and accurate meal preparation.

Yume's kitchen menu includes teriyaki, hibachi, and tempura dishes. Entrees include pad thai, curries, salt and pepper shrimp, duck, and pineapple chicken. 

Xaio admits to being a little unsure yet what Batavia's diners would prefer on the kitchen menu, so he will run regular specials to find out what people like.

"I know how to cook a lot of stuff, but I don't know if people like it or lot," he said.

He's also brimming with ideas.

"I have so many things on my mind to put on the menu, but I can't do it all at once, so I try maybe (to) switch menus, a summer menu, maybe," Xaio said.

Everything that is served out of the kitchen is prepared with the same eye toward presentation as the sushi. Great care is taken to ensure dishes are as artful as they are flavorful.

A customer favorite already is Xaio's pineapple fried rice, which is rice, shrimp, chicken and bits of pineapple served in half a pineapple husk.

Xaio and Huang put a great deal of thought into designing the interior of their restaurant, as well. A spare, contemporary theme of cut rocks along the walls sets the tone, with touches of Asian art. The predominant feature is water flowing through two panes of thick glass near the entry.

The chairs and booths are covered in leather and Xaio said he picked seating with extra padding to ensure customers are comfortable.

The lighting is kept low so those who want a romantic atmosphere will find it at Yume. The light across the room is actually gradiated. More light near the bar, where people can socialize, less light along the far wall; seating in the back is arranged for couples.

"I feel when people are eating, they need a comfortable place," Xaio said. "Music, good food and a comfortable place."

It took a lot of work to get his dream restaurant open, but now that he's serving food to happy customers, Xaio is glad to see the effort paying off.

"We try (the) best we can do," Xaio said. "Seven months. That is long story. I was just trying to do things perfect."

So far, it seems the customers like Batavia's new Asian bistro and Robbins thinks more local residents need to try Yume, and they should try sushi.

"Life is about trying different things," Robbins said. "You have to try different things, right?  Why have the same old thing all the time. Like traveling around the world and going to different places, and it should be the same thing when you eat. You should try different things to see if you like it. You might surprise yourself."

Chris Huang

Kevin Xaio

January 21, 2014 - 9:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business.

Town planners approved a sign tonight for a new sushi restaurant that will reportedly open soon at 4140 Veterans Memorial Drive, Batavia.

The restaurant, YUME Asian Bistro, will be the third location for the owner, according to Dan Lang, the town's code enforcement officer. The other two are in New York City.

Everything about the new restaurant, Lang said, is first-class.

"The interior looks wonderful, actually," Lang said. "He did a beautiful job on the inside of it."

Lang said the owner is just about ready, and eager to open.

The location is next to Pawn King, two doors down from Jagged Edges Salon, across from Walmart.

His top chef from New York will open the restaurant and train the cooks and staff before returning to NYC.

"He wants to make sure he has somebody who takes care of the sushi the right way," Lang said.

The restaurant will also serve Thai food as well as other Asian dishes.

Lang described the new restaurant as "high end."

UPDATE: So, apparently, Batavia will have two sushi restaurants going by similar names. Josh Gaylord says that he filed for a DBA for Yume Sushi in June and then Yumi Asian Bistro filed in July. Gaylord is planning to open his restaurant at the former Delavan's location on Evans Street in the city.  He's previously held a Sushi night at Sweet Ecstasy Bakery and his sushi has gained a passionate local following.

November 22, 2013 - 6:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in restaurants, business, Sponsored Post, advertisement, Batavia Eats.

We have more menus online ready to receive your meal orders from great local restaurants.

Here are the menus available now:

The developers have also added a new feature -- you can order your meals in advance. Let's say you're in Rochester at 4 p.m. and know you won't be back in Batavia until 6:15 p.m., you can specify 6:15 as your pick-up time.

Be sure to bookmark BataviaEats.com to keep up with new restaurants as we add them and for future online ordering from local restaurants.

July 2, 2013 - 10:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown.

Press release:

Why do you leave Genesee County to eat? That’s exactly what the Restaurant Creativity Advocates want to find out. In response to sales leakage reports provided by W-ZHA and The Community Land Use & Economics Group, a brief survey was developed for area residents to explain their dining and travel habits. The survey is available now through July 12th online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/N6SCRMV.

The Restaurant Creativity Advocates is a local group formed by representatives of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, Genesee Community College’s The BEST Center, Batavia Development Corporation, downtown's Business Improvement District and Senior Corp of Retired Executives. This group voluntarily organized to research and improve the local dining options throughout the county.

“We gathered in response to two recent reports that suggest area residents spend more than $12.4 million annually to eat and drink at restaurants beyond our County borders,” stated Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation. “We want to understand why people leave the County to dine-out. Ultimately, we want to do what we can to try to ensure more dining dollars stay local.”

The Restaurant Creativity Advocates began discussion early February 2013. Since then, they conducted their own local restaurant assessment facilitated by Lina LaMattina, director of The BEST Center.

“We began by asking team members to finish the open-ended question, wouldn’t it be great if...,” LaMattina said. “Allowing this cross-functional team to begin to consider the possibilities open to the County helped the group to generate some big picture thinking, think creatively, and develop the foundation for some real conversation with stakeholders without giving way to the  traditional stumbling blocks typically encountered when dealing with significant challenges,” LaMattina added.

The group categorized more than 100 committee responses and found that six areas of focus could potentially improve the local restaurant scene. Upon completion of the customer survey, the group will share all results with the local restaurateurs in hopes of devising an action plan to reduce the sales leakage.

The restaurant customer survey is brief, but it does end with the same valuable question “Wouldn’t it be great if…?”

The Chamber of Commerce has mailed a separate restaurant owner survey directly to their listing of 126 existing restaurants in Genesee County. That survey will also be complete at the end of next week.

January 13, 2012 - 1:57pm
posted by Murder Creek Bi... in restaurants, food, comfort food, casual dining, intimate places, romantic.
Event Date and Time: 
February 14, 2012 - 11:00am to 10:00pm

Welcome to the Murder Creek Bistro @ The Akron House

15 Main St. Akron, Ny 14001

Below is our featured menu that will be running on Tuesday, February 14th, 2012.

 

Starters:

Caramelized Onion Soup with Kutter’s Cheese  - or              

Soup of the Day : Chicken & Rice  Cup  4.99 Bowl  5.50

September 20, 2011 - 5:31pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown, food.

The menu of great local restaurant choices in Batavia grew a bit today with the opening of Salsa and Curry on Jackson Street (former location of Margarita's Mexican Restaurant).

Owners Deena Rathod (right) and daughters Anvpa Hirani (left) and Priya Rathod have opened with just a Mexican food menu for now, but starting Friday will offer daily Indian food specials.

If the Indian food goes over well -- and several of the first customers in the restaurant today asked for Indian food -- then the menu will be expanded.

"If there is demand for it, we'll bring in more Indian food," Deena said. "We'll add it to the menu, but for now we're trying it on a limited basis."

With no previous Indian food restaurant in Batavia to judge the curry-and-spice offerings of the cuisine, the Rathods want to see how much demand there is for Indian menu items.

The Rathods have made a significant investment in remodeling the interior of the former Margarita's, reconfiguring the space, putting in new flooring, booths, tables and chairs.

"I've always wanted to open a restaurant," Deena said. "I have a passion for food and I like to make different dishes. In the past, when I've made different dishes for family and friends, they all enjoyed it."

Deena said many customers who have come into Mr. Wine and Liquor -- which her family also owns -- since Margarita's closed have urged her and her family to open a restaurant, especially an Indian restaurant (the building on Jackson is owned by Deena and her husband, Kevin).

The opportunity seemed ripe to go ahead and give it a try, Deena said.

August 17, 2011 - 12:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown, food.

Rancho Viejo, Batavia's new Mexican restaurant, opened at 11 o'clock today.

Owner Leon Ramirez, right, said he decided to open a restaurant in Batavia because it seemed like a good market and there was no Mexican restaurant in Batavia.

Ramirez completely remodeled the former Ponderosa location on Ellicott Street.

This is Ramirez's fifth location. He also owns Mexican restaurants in Mt. Morris (his home), Cornell, Waterloo and Fairport.

"I invite everybody down to give us a try," Ramirez said. "I promise them very real Mexican food."

Pictured with Ramirez is Jonathan Martinez.

April 2, 2011 - 8:06am
posted by Brittany Baker in restaurants, business, Le Roy, kati's place, diner, kati mancuso.

Walk into Kati’s Place on Main Street in Le Roy and chances are, you’ll see Kati Mancuso ready to seat you or take your order or maybe just shoot the breeze for a while.

The 27-year-old leased the building and fixed up what was formerly Tyler’s Restaurant (closed in 2006) without having to take out any loans or rely on anyone else.

“Nothing worked when I got here,” she shrugged. “The lights didn’t even work when I agreed to take it, but I said yes anyway.”

Mancuso said that although her broker told her the former restaurant was “turnkey ready,” it ended up needing a lot of elbow grease but she was determined.

“Let me tell you about ‘turnkey’ anything,” she joked. “If one more pipe exploded in my face or gas line blew up or anything else had gone wrong, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Odds are, even if she had encountered another disaster, she would have managed to get the restaurant open for business on the designated date – March 14.

“I don’t know why but I set that date...I said, ‘You have one month. Now go.’”

Remarkably, Mancuso and all her supporters did just that. Once she leased the building, she and her family and friends managed to get everything ready so the doors could open for business in four weeks.

“Everybody rallied behind me,” she said. “They got together and, I don’t know, it all fell into place. It was just like people were coming in all the time asking what I needed. I went so long without sleeping and eating to clean this place and get it ready by March 14.”

But at one point, Mancuso had some health issues which put her in the hospital for awhile. When she recovered, she “began making phone calls,” calling up vacant places in Le Roy with her vision in mind. She wanted a place of her own where her regular customers could come to eat and enjoy themselves.

“Truthfully, I did it for them,” she said, gesturing toward a few tables of diners. “These people are family and it’s like I’ve been waiting on them all forever.”

Kati’s Place is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

“Every day we’re open, things just get better and better around here,” Mancuso said. “We’re doing just fine.”

(This story originally contained information referring to another individual of a personal nature that upon reflection should have been removed prior to publication. The information and comments referring to it have been removed.)

February 13, 2011 - 5:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in restaurants, Darien, Minty Wellness, hotels.

Linda Tyczka never expected Minty Wellness to receive the kind of praise it has from meat eaters in Genesee County and beyond.

Among locals, "they're probably our biggest client base," Tyczka said.

Why wouldn't meat eaters embrace the gourmet restaurant inside the upscale hotel and spa in Darien Center?

Well, there's no meat served at Minty Wellness. It's an entirely vegan and raw food establishment.

Since opening last May, more and more local residents have been discovering Minty Wellness and telling their friends about the food.

"There are so many local people coming," Tyczka said. "We have a group reservation from a local bank. None of them are vegan. They just heard it’s a nice place and the food is good. We’ve taken the vegan menu past granola and beans. We try to do a little gourmet and it’s working well.”

The story of Minty Wellness begins more than three years ago at a raw food seminar in Maine. There, Tyczka met Mary Minihane, who makes her home in Ireland. The two women struck up a friendship and Mary suggested opening a vegan and raw food resort.

Her initial idea was to open it in Costa Rica, but after the women travelled there they couldn't find a suitable location, so Minihane started looking in California and Arizona.  Then she sent Tyczka information on property in the Poconos.

At that point, Tyczka said, "Hey, what about my place."

Tyczka and her husband David own 100 wooded acres in Darien. Minihane researched the market, liked its proximity to Buffalo, Rochester and Toronto, and agreed to back the construction of the facility.

The entire hotel, spa and restaurant are brand-new from the ground up. The eight hotel rooms are each unique, though the entire decor of the hotel is sleek contemporary with a touch of retro modern. The spare, uncluttered environment inside is immediately relaxing, which Tyczka said was the goal all along.

"I'm all about environment," Tyczka said. "It doesn't matter where I go, I want to be in a nice environment. We didn't just want to have a vegan hotel and just plain rooms. We wanted that experience to carry up into the rooms so people would be like, 'I can't wait to get to my room.'"

Some of what the spa offers includes Swedish massage, hot stone massage, soothing soak, Vichy massage and colon hydrotherapy. Laura Koepp is also on staff to offer Naturopathic therapy.

For those looking for an overnight or longer retreat, besides relaxing in the hotel, there are four golf courses within 15 minutes, plus nearby Darien Lake, as well as the wood areas for hikes or snowshoeing.

Overnight stays include a vegan breakfast.

As for the lunch and dinner menu, it features such delectable-sounding dishes Cajun Mayo Avocado, Linguini Alfredo, Tomato Dill Nori Roll and a vegan taco dubbed the "best taco ever."

"It's awesome to be acknowledged by the locals," Tyczka said. "It's one thing to pull people from Rochester, Buffalo and Toronto, but to be recognized by local people is just a really gratifying thing."

September 18, 2010 - 2:25pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, Announcements, restaurants, GCC, scholarships.

Starting tomorrow, 32 restaurants in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties will be participating in "Dine-Out Days." A percentage of their profits this week will benefit the GCC Foundation, which provides student scholarships. This will last through Saturday, Sept. 25.

Select restaurants will offer discounts and featured menu items.

The following Genesee County restaurants are involved in Dine-Out days this year:

  • BATAVIA

Alex's Place, at 8322 Park Road

Bohn's Restaurant & Lounge, at 5256 Clinton St. Road

Miss Batavia Diner, at 566 E. Main St.

Delavan's, at 107 Evans St.

Pauly's Pizzeria, at 314 Ellicott St.

Subway, at 412 E. Main St. and 8351 Lewiston Road

Terry Hills Restaurant & Banquet Facility, at 5122 Clinton St. Road

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St.

  • OAKFIELD

Caryville Inn, at 25 Main St.

Oakfield Hotel/Scopano Lanes, at 49 S. Pearl St.

  • STAFFORD

Red Osier Landmark, at 6492 Main Road

  • LE ROY

D&R Depot, at 63 Lake St.

Scooters of Le Roy, at 140 W. Main St.

McDonald's, at 67 Main St.

The Ganson Inn, at 65 Lake St.

Le Roy Country Club and Golf Course, at 7759 E. Main Rd.

Pizza Land, at 131 W. Main St.

For more details, contact the GCC Foundation office at 345-6809 or e-mail [email protected]. For up-to-date information on Dine-Out Days, please visit www.genesee.edu/gcc/dineoutdays.

September 18, 2010 - 1:43pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, restaurants, GCC, scholarships.
Event Date and Time: 
September 19, 2010 (All day) to September 25, 2010 (All day)

Today, 32 restaurants in Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties will be participating in "Dine-Out Days." A percentage of their profits this week will benefit the GCC Foundation, which provides student scholarships. This will last through Saturday, Sept. 25.

Select restaurants will offer discounts and featured menu items.

The following Genesee County restaurants are involved in Dine-Out days this year:

  • BATAVIA

Alex's Place, at 8322 Park Road

August 18, 2010 - 8:51am
posted by Peter O'Brien in batavia, restaurants, business, Blogs, Restaurant Review.

Last night the wife and I chose Larry's  as our destination to celebrate our one month-iversery.   We arrived at about 5:30.  We were greeted right away and led to table.  Service was terrific all night.

We both ordered the everyday special; a fourteen ounce New York strip steak with choice of side, soup, and a salad for $17.99. She chose the twice baked potato and I selected the regular baked potato.  I chose chili and she chose the cheddar broccoli soup.  For our salads I got the grape seed vinegarette and Chelsea chose ranch.

The soups came first.  The three bean chili came in a ceramic crock and was covered in shredded cheddar.  It was very hearty and delicious.  My only complaint was that it was not very spicy.   Chelsea's cheddar broccoli was a bit of a let down.  It didn't have quite enough flavor for me and Chelsea said it was lacking something.

The salads soon arrived after that and were terrific.  They were very fresh with several different types of lettuce.  Larry's is the only place I know of to get a grape flavored vinegarette.  It was tremendous.  Chelsea's ranch was also good, though to me ranch is kinda plain.

Next the steaks came.  I also ordered mushrooms for mine.  They arrived hot and juicy.  They cooked exactly to the temperature we ordered.  The top of my steak was covered in quartered mushroom caps as well.  The steaks were as tasty as you would expect from Steakhouse.

We really enjoyed our experience at Larry's and we are looking forward to going again.

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