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November 21, 2012 - 8:31pm

Popular local restaurant closes for good after most recent cook quits without notice

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Delavan's Restaurant.

Sunday morning Bill Cultrara, owner with his wife, Patti, of Delavan's Restaurant at 107 Evans St., Batavia, received a phone call from his cook. He quit. No notice. No reason. No explanation. Nothing. He was done.

The last time that happened about six months ago, Cultrara vowed that if happened again, he would close the restaurant, so Sunday, that's what he did.

By Tuesday afternoon, Tony Mancuso was hanging a "For Rent" sign on the building.

"He (the cook) left us high and dry," Cultrara said.

Patti said another cook quitting was just too much.

"We've been through 16 cooks in five years," Patti said. "That's all we could remember. There's others. We could remember their tattoos but not their names."

The last cook was a good employee, Bill said. He didn't smoke. He didn't gab on his mobile phone. He showed up for work. If he had a problem, he never let Bill know about it, he never offered to discuss it.

Bill said finding good professional cooks who are willing to work is just getting harder and harder.

"The restaurant business is very stressful," Bill said. "You don’t know if you’ve got a cook everyday and people are calling in sick all of the time. I’ve had enough. The stress is off of my shoulders."

Bill has a full-time job with the Sheriff's Office as manager of food services for the jail. Patti already has two new job offers lined up, including working as the Tuesday and Thursday afternoon bartender at the city's newest restaurant, Daphne's. 

He said closing the popular restaurant where he and Patti made so many friends over the years was bittersweet. He hates closing. He's glad to be rid of the stress.

Bill and Patti met at 107 Evans St. when the location was a bar and grill in 1971. Eventually, they owned the business and the building. At one time they thought they would take over Alex's Place, but when that didn't work out, so they reopened Delavan's.

With the restaurant closed for good, Bill said he will still take orders for his popular sausage and they're still selling his famous wing sauce.

So long as Bill keeps the books open on the business, which he plans to do, the variance to run such a business in its residential location will remain valid.

Bill hopes somebody will come along who wants to run a restaurant and bar in the building. Whomever it is, he says, needs to have restaurant experience. He's not going to turn the location over to somebody who he doesn't think can make a go of it.

The person who gets it and is willing to maintain the same "Cheers"-like neighborhood tavern and restaurant ambiance might find a built-in customer base. Delavan's remained very popular with a large group of loyal customers right up until its final day of business, which was Friday.

"It would be good for somebody who came in here and had a lot of energy," Bill said.

NOTE: If you purchased a gift certificate from Delavan's, or received one as a gift, you have until Dec. 31 to redeem it. Mail it to Delavan's at 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY 14020.

But if you purchased a gift certificate from The Batavian in the past 30 days, mail it to our office at 200 E. Main St., Room 5, Batavia, NY 14020. We will refund your purchase price through PayPal.

Bob Harker
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Joined: Aug 20 2009 - 3:12pm

Sorry to see Delavan's go.

16 cooks in 5 years (that are remembered sans tattoos). Are other restaurants in town experiencing the same turnover? Can't even remember their names!!???!

Where's the common denominator here? Could something be said about taking good care of those that take care of you - especially by making you money?

Just sayin......

John Woodworth JR
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Joined: May 28 2009 - 11:13am

Yeah, it is strange that, 1) You go through 16 cooks in five years and 2) You cannot remember any of their names. I have had ten police officers leave my unit all from different shifts and I remember all their names and did not work with half of them. How does an employer treat their employees if, they can't remember their names?

Howard B. Owens
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As the son of a man who ran food businesses for all of my pre-40s life and as somebody who worked most of my post 40s life in management I find Bill's experience neither surprising nor exceptional. In the food business there are a lot of good workers, but there is also a large proportion of flakes. And these days finding anybody who actually wants to work is exceptionally hard.

John, in respect, your experience in the government sector tied to the military is hardly relavant to the private sector. I

Kyle Couchman
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Joined: Dec 25 2009 - 8:54am

I wish I was able to work but I still am dealing with this foot..... Cooking is/was one of my job skills, was working as overnight cook at the TA when I had to go into the hospital last year. Be nice to have a dependable job, cause I am one of those rare people that does work hard....too hard as it's part of what put me in the hospital.

Susan Walf
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Joined: Jul 28 2012 - 2:50pm

Our favorite place. This news leaves very limited quality, dining choices locally. Sad to hear this. Happy to hear though that we can still get the amazing sausage. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Julie A Pappalardo
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Joined: Mar 3 2009 - 12:23pm

Always sad to see someone have to close thier business. Regarding employees: YES, it is VERY hard to find "good help" these days. A friend has a restaurant and has the same issues as Patti and Bill were dealing with. Turnaround in that biz has always been high.

It seems that people just don't want to work now. There are "help wanted" signs EVERYWHERE, and all of my friends who have businesses with employees are complaining that they can't find help. If SO many people are unemployed and the economy is supposedly so bad, then how come business owners can't find good workers??? Perhaps it is time to start ended unemployment bennys for some folks?

and my fav comment in this story goes to Patti "We could remember their tattoos but not their names." LOL

Howard B. Owens
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As much as I loved Delavan's, I do gotta say, Genesee County is blessed with several great locally owned restaurants -- Alex's, Larry's, City Slickers, O'Lacy's, Center Street, Bourbon and Burger, Salsa & Curry, Rancho Viejo, Settler's, Sporto's, Sunny's, Bohn's, T.F. Brown's, Red Osier, Main St. Pizza, D&R Depot, Le Roy Diner, Pok-A-Dot, Rosie's, Allie's, Alabama Hotel, Log Cabin, Spirit's, Daphne's ... lots of places to eat for any budget and some of these places are truly fine dining, not to mention the great delicatessens.

Brett Orr
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Joined: May 6 2010 - 6:25pm

My tattoo covered self has worked for the same restaurant owner for 13 years. He treats me like a family member. He supports my own small business by understanding my needs and rearranging my schedule. Hell, he has even hired me for my other trade. He pays me decently and provides an excellent environment. Now, I know first hand that in the restaurant business that there is an abundance is lazy, useless bums. However, in 21 years of cooking, I have never seen an employee turnover like that. Perhaps the fact that they wouldn't even take the time to learn someone's name is a reason no one would stay there. I agree with Mr. Harker... You should take care of the people that take care of you. Especially if they are the ones making you money.

kevin kretschmer
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Joined: Jan 26 2010 - 9:32pm

The Casino and LB Grand both make a pretty good red sauce. If you're looking for some exceptional Italian Food in this area I would recommend any one of the following; Fratelli's (Avon), Orazio's (Clarence), or La Bella Sicilia (Cheektowaga).

Brenda Ranney
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Joined: Jun 21 2008 - 5:29pm

Hubby called me yesterday afternoon ... "How 'bout I take my wife out for a fish fry after work" ?
Lol, told him he'd better check TheBatavian 'cause one of his favs won't be taking orders. Glass of wine & leftovers with my sweetheart.

MIL owned several restaurants in Rochester, the Mulberry Mill near Kodak Park being one of them. Thyme in the Garden on East Ave was her last.
It is a 24/7/365 lifestyle.

Thanks for the great dinners.

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