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Creekside Inn

March 29, 2018 - 5:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in bill farmer, Farmer's Creekside Inn, Creekside Inn, Le Roy, news.

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If opening Farmer's Creekside Inn -- a restaurant and hotel spread out over four floors with two bars and multiple dining areas -- wasn't enough to keep Bill Farmer busy, he's had his businesses in Rochester (primarily Catenary Construction) to run, and he also acquired two additional properties in the Village of Le Roy that required some revitalization and restoration.

Both are still a work in progress.

In December 2016, he purchased the Bank of Le Roy building, which Bank of America vacated earlier in the year.

He started off 2017, before the Creekside even opened, with the purchase of one of Le Roy's legendary restaurants, the L.B. Grand, and its 150-year-old, two-story building.

The bank building, built in 1920, is nearly 12,000 square feet of commercial space. Farmer hasn't decided yet what to do with the first floor but thinks a brewery would be a natural fit. He has two tenants on the upper floors -- a recording studio and an artist/art teacher.

After the Creekside, the L.B. Grand restaurant and building have been a significant focus for Farmer since last spring.

"When we took over, we did immediately what we could do -- new chairs, new carpets, new lighting," Farmer said. "The kitchen has been a battle."

It's functional now, and up to code, but it still needs some work. The new chef, Bob Grant, got a new line right away -- new salamander, new grill, new ovens.

Grant revamped the menu but maintained the restaurant's focus on Italian favorites.

"It’s a classic place," Farmer said. "It’s really got a nice warm feel to it. We took a lot of the tchotchke stuff off the walls and put in some really cool antique light fixtures, and our guy, Bob Grant, our head chef there -- he works his fanny off and he does a great job -- I always hear positive things."

Upstairs, workers are just finishing the complete restoration of the four apartment units on the second floor. The units were completely gutted -- new walls, new doors, new windows, new kitchens. The large one-bedroom apartments will rent for $750 to $850 per month.

As for the Creekside (click here for our coverage going back to 2009), business is good, Farmer said. The deep winter months weren't as bad for business as he might have expected and the restaurant is getting about 65 percent of its business from outside the county, which is a good thing.

"We think we’ve got a strong connection with the Genesee Country Museum, with Letchworth, even the Finger Lakes Region, and not to mention Niagara Falls," Farmer said. "To me, and this has been part of my vision from day one, is that we want to attract people here. Geo-tourism, right? We want to bring people from all over the place and that means we have to have our profile high enough above the crowd that we stick out people say, ‘oh, yeah, let’s come here.’ ”

Farmer said the tourism staff of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce has been vital to helping the Creekside reach travelers.

"I think they’re an incredible resource, an incredible resource," Farmer said. "We’ll see how the year plays out but we’re in their dining guide, we’re taking part in email blasts, and another thing we’ve done is rack cards. They sound kind of cheesy in a way but yet for a certain amount of money we can spread those from Syracuse to Buffalo so people traveling down the Thruway will see the rack card, pick it up and see we’re three and a half miles off Exit 47."

Farmer said he also keeps an eye on keeping the local clientele happy.

"Genesee County is our base, and given the way we are geographically located, that takes in a little bit of Wyoming, a little bit of Livingston, a little bit of Monroe (counties) -- that 10- to 15-mile radius is our base."

For that base, the restaurant is planning live music during the warm months to go along with other promotions.

This will be the Creekside's first full spring, summer, fall season since Farmer got it reopened after nearly 10 years of remodeling and repairs. Farmer acquired the property about four years after a fire in 2004 gutted much of it and destroyed other parts of it. 

Since reopening, there have been a few changes to the plan for the restaurant. The upstairs dining room, for example, was going to be dedicated to fine dining on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. 

That won't happen, at least not soon.

"We decided it's too complicated right now," Farmer said.

The room is working well, Farmer said, for hosting wine-pairing events, which sell out every time (there are events planned in April and either May or June) and hosting parties and other events for customers.

"The wine-pairing dinners offer some unique menu items and entrees and so far that suffices the creative needs of the culinary team and our wine director thrives on those events as well."

The Creekside is Farmer's first foray into the restaurant business and he admits that though there are moments of great happiness, it's far more stressful than he anticipated.

"It’s a learning experience," Farmer said. "I’ve always said a good day is when you learn something. Something should pop up on your radar screen every day that is, ‘geez, I didn’t know that.’ Well, it happens more and more with our restaurant businesses. It’s daily. It’s consistent, but there are even subtle things in construction that challenge and so that learning is constant. It’s good."

Photos by Howard Owens of the L.B. Grand and the second-floor apartments.

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July 13, 2017 - 12:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Creekside Inn, Farmer's Creekside Inn, Le Roy, business, news, notify.

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It's been years of effort and expense for Bill Farmer, but nearly a decade after he acquired the Creekside Inn, after a fire destroyed most of the building, the tavern that is part of so many local memories, is once again welcoming customers.

The 200-year-old building has been completely refurbished from top to bottom and is gorgeous. Farmer has hired a top-notch staff and the Creekside is set to become a local favorite, but a regional dining destination.  

Tavern dining on the second floor and the patio bar are open. The third-floor fine dining won't open for a few weeks yet.

This weekend, during Oatka Fest, the Creekside is not accepting reservations. It is first-come, first-served.

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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.

November 15, 2016 - 1:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Creekside Inn, Le Roy, news, business.

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Exterior work on the refurbished Creekside Inn in Le Roy is very near completion.

The work has been extensive, including new decks on two levels, two new patios, a new bar on the first level, new drainage on Main Street and a restored entryway along with tiered landscaping at the back of the building.

Owner Bill Farmer said yesterday that work begins immediately on the interior remodeling, and that will take about three months.

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July 16, 2016 - 10:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Creekside Inn, Le Roy, news, business.

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Over the winter, restoration work on the Creekside Inn resumed. The building was covered in protective plastic on the east side for much of the winter and when the plastic came off and the scaffolding came down, it revealed three levels of patios and decks and restored masonry.

Owner Bill Farmer expects work to be completed to have a restaurant and bar open by December.

Today he hosted a small gathering of invited guests to see the progress of the work.

Farmer gave me permission to take pictures of the decks, patio and interior. Sadly and unfortunately, as I was rushing out the door this evening to get to the fairgrounds for the tractor pulls, I hastily reformated the SD card in my camera, forgetting I had not yet transferred the pictures to my hard disk. Disk recovery didn't work and they're all lost.

All I can tell you is, Bill is doing a first-class job. This place, when it's done, will be stunning. The views will be beautiful. A couple of times this morning when he gave me a private tour, I was amazed by the work he's done on the place.

Farmer doesn't want to talk publicly about his plans at this point, but the revived Creekside Inn should be a great addition to Le Roy and Genesee County.

July 19, 2009 - 2:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, Creekside Inn, restoration.

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The Oatka Festival in Le Roy yesterday may have been the place for all the fun, but the former Creekside Inn -- soon to be the Creekside Tavern & Inn -- was where you heard all the buzz.

The site of many grand times, and no small bit of history, was jammed with people looking over what Bill Farmer and his son are doing to the rustic stone building set against the falls of Oatka Creek.

Farmer is a man passionate about restoration, having put a whole career into working on some of the landmark restoration projects in Rochester. The Creekside project was supposed to be a hobby project, but has become Farmer's full-time avocation. 

For those who think entrepreneurs won't invest in Genesee County, Farmer will have sunk more than $1 million into the project by the time the restaurant and tavern opens next spring.

I spent at least 30 minutes just chatting with Farmer.  He's passionate about the project and believes it will become a destination point, drawing diners and beer lovers from Buffalo and Rochester to a village that has seen better days.  Farmer believes, and I think he's right, the Creekside restoration could spark interest from other developers in the village, which he thinks is one of the great undiscovered villages in WNY. 

The Village of Le Roy is well located, with some great older buildings and plenty of local history to be a draw for shoppers and diners from all over the region.  It's great to see an entrepreneur like Farmer take such a huge step to help save one great building and hopefully spark a new economic era for Le Roy.

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