Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

Center Street Smokehouse

March 18, 2022 - 11:43am


It was back to normal for Batavia on St. Patrick's Day on Thursday as revelers hit the local dining establishments and watering holes to party in public for the first time on the holiday in two years.

We visited O'Lacy's, Center Street Smokehouse, and Eli Fish Brewing. The Rince an Tiarna Irish Dancers performed at both Center Street and Eli Fish.














December 5, 2019 - 1:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Center Street Smokehouse, Business, batavia.


Restaurants come and go. It's a tough business. But some endure and among those is Center Street Smokehouse, which has been a staple of the downtown dining scene in Batavia for 20 years.

In 2000, Paul, his brother Scott and friend Tommy Freeman bought at auction an old newspaper building that had been vacant for years and was in a sad, dilapidated state and renovated it, turning it into a Southern-hospitality, retro-themed eatery.

"It's been an interesting trip," Paul said. "We've got a loyal fan base and we've been improving things year after year after year so people keep coming back."

As downtown's business base has slowly grown over the past two decades, Center Street has been in the thick of it.

"It's nice to be right in the middle of the city," Paul said. "People can move around downtown and get more of a city experience."

The restaurant opened 20 years ago on Dec. 7 and to celebrate, on Sunday (Dec. 8), draft beers are $1, beef ribs, $6, half chicken, $4, and a hamburger is just $1.

"These prices are not a misprint," Paul notes in a flier he made for the event, and the prices only last on Sunday while supplies last. The hours are from 4 to 8 p.m.

The celebration will last all of 2020, Paul said, with monthly specials throughout the year.

March 18, 2017 - 9:40am


Photos from St. Patrick's Day celebrations at Center Street and O'Lacy's Irish Pub yesterday.













August 28, 2014 - 2:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Business, Center Street Smokehouse.

A former taco wagon from Los Angeles is now a Southern BBQ truck in WNY.

The transformation was made by Cregg Paul, owner of Center Street Smoke House, who bought the truck from a seller in Fayetteville, NC, and drove the truck to Batavia.

It was exciting to see an authentic taco wagon on Center Street for a couple of weeks, but carne asada wasn't in Paul's plans. He's sticking to what he does best: brisket, ribs and pulled pork.

The truck is available for catered happenings and Paul plans on using it at festivals and other public events.

May 24, 2013 - 11:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, music, entertainment, Center Street Smokehouse.

After covering Section V playoff baseball at Dwyer Stadium, I stopped in Center Street Smokehouse to warm up and found myself enjoying the acoustic duo the Steve Balisteri Band. Since I had my camera with me, I thought I'd make a couple of photos.

I'll have coverage of the baseball games in the morning. Batavia won 1-0 and Notre Dame won 2-0.

March 1, 2013 - 4:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Center Street Smokehouse.

Friends and family of Scott Paul gathered at Center Street Smoke House this afternoon to pay tribute to the man who help found the restaurant with his brother, Cregg Paul.

We convinced some of the gathering to come out for a picture with the Bluesmobile.

Previously: Scott Paul: Golfer, musician, photographer, co-owner of Center Street Smoke House, dead at age 57

February 27, 2013 - 4:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Business, Center Street Smokehouse.

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.

December 5, 2011 - 10:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Business, Center Street Smokehouse.

Wednesday, Dec. 7, Center Street Smoke House will celebrate 10 years in business.

To commemorate the occasion, co-owner Cregg Paul is planning a special menu at 1940s era prices -- draft beer for 50 cents and BBQ ribs, for example, at $3.41.

"Not a lot of places that have survived 10 years," Paul noted. "I've seen a number in Batavia come and go, come and go, come and go, so to be around for the 10 year mark is quite an accomplishment."

In 2000, Paul, his brother Scott and friend Tommy Freeman bought at auction a building on Center Street from the City of Batavia that was in a serious state of disrepair.

"It was one of the few free standing buildings that hadn't been torn down by urban renewal or anything else," Paul said, explaining the trio's interest in the location. "It was a great spot, great history, and it needed to be saved. It was about to cave in when we got it."

The renovation to the 1930s-era structure was total.  Workers spent nine months just removing everything from the interior, then contractors installed new wiring, pluming and heating and air, not to mention building a speciality kitchen for southern BBQ.

The group of friends realized their dream of owning and operating a southern BBQ in the heart of Western New York on Dec. 7 when Center Street opened its doors for the first time.

"Ten years ago when we were thinking about it, we realized there wasn’t really any kind of southern food around anywhere," Paul said. "There was nothing here. Rochester was limited. Buffalo was limited.  We always loved going down south and the food was the best part about going down south, so we thought we would bring that back up here."

The celebration started Wednesday at 4 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m.  Besides BBQ beef ribs, the menu will include at $3.41 each, mac & cheese, meat loaf, chicken and biscuit, with hamburgers going for 75 cents and cheeseburgers for 95 cents.

October 27, 2011 - 9:51pm
Event Date and Time: 
November 26, 2011 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm


Come out and support Brandon Johns and his fight against cancer.

Brandon is a 12 year old Batavia Middle School student recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Help us bring much needed support to Brandon and his family during this difficult time.

Cocktail Party (21 years and older) Saturday Nov. 26th from 7-9pm. $25 Pre-sale ticket gets you free drinks for two hours, hors d'oeuvres, and cover charge for the band (Monster Johnson starting at 9:30pm). Also Chinese Auction on Football sports memorabilia.

July 23, 2011 - 11:51pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, music, entertainment, Center Street Smokehouse.

After an evening at the Genesee County Fair -- yes, I finally made it, in the last hours of the last day -- I stopped by Center Street Smokehouse for some ribs and a drink. A band called The Feast was rocking the house, so I had to take a picture.

March 18, 2011 - 12:37am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, Center Street Smokehouse, O'Lacy's Irish Pub.

Good times once again in Downtown Batavia for St. Patrick's Day. I stopped by Center Street Smoke House -- where McMahon Dance School students performed traditional Irish dances -- and O'Lacy's, and then one more quick stop at Center Street on the way back to the office.

Prints of these pictures available for purchase by clicking here.

More pictures after the jump:

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

blue button

News Break