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Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew

Photo: Sunday morning Bills game crowd at the Smokin' Eagle

By Howard B. Owens
bills part at smokin' eagle
Photo submitted by Tom Petrie 

The Buffalo Bills played a rare Sunday morning game -- because the game was in London -- and multiple bars and restaurants opened early for fans, including the Smokin' Eagle in Le Roy.

The Bills lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 25-20.

Video: Battle of the Bands finale at Smokin' Eagle

By Howard B. Owens
Video Sponsor
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In the Fifth Annual Battle of the Bands at the Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew in Le Roy, after a summer-long competition, the John Payton Project came out on top in the finalist pairing of the season on Saturday night.

Second place went to Deeper Blue.

Here's a video highlighting last night's event. We'll have full-song videos from each band over the next two days.

Video: Smokin' Eagle's Battle of the Bands starts 2019 season with $3K donation to Golisano

By Howard B. Owens
Video Sponsor
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Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew kicked off its 2019 Battle of the Bands on Thursday night with two acts taking the stage and a check presentation to Golisano Children's Hospital for $3,100.

This season's goal: $5,000.

The lineup for the remainder of the summer series:

  • June 20: MoodPill and Deep Blue
  • July 18: Pentanol and The John Payton Project 
  • July 25: Midnight Cruisers and Ice Cream Social
  • Aug. 1: Element 36 and Johnny 9 & The Scream
  • Aug. 15: Stupid November and 585 Shindig

New paddleboat service debuts during Oatka Festival

By Howard B. Owens


When Jay Beaumont and his partners decided to buy the Eagle Hotel in Le Roy in 2012 and open the Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew, Beaumont immediately noticed that the Eagle's back property line included access to the Oatka Creek.

His first thought: Paddleboats.

For the first few years of the Smokin' Eagle, Beaumont had many other restoration projects to work on in the old tavern and hotel at 9 Main St. His idea was to build a wooden dock and that, he figured, would be a lot of work.

As Bill Farmer's restoration project of the Creekside Inn at 1 Main St. progressed, Beaumont put his idea on hold.

"As Farmer started to pick up the pieces, he told me he would build us access to the creek," Beaumont said. "What he built was the Taj Mahal down there. He really advanced my idea."

With further research, Beaumont found a pre-built plastic dock that could be floated into place. That was installed this past Thursday, just in time for annual Oatka Festival and the Eagle's inaugural Paddleboat Regatta.

The regatta started with just enough hardy sailors to power five paddle boats. By the end of the first race, there were enough new entrants for a second race, and by the end of the third, enough for a fourth race. The top two teams from each race then faced off in a finals race.

"It was really exciting," Beaumont said. "It was a big hit."

Beaumont has hired some high school students to help get customers on and off the boats and a college student to manage the business.

"The kids did a great job," Beaumont said. "It's a chance for them to get experience in a small business but it's also fun. What could be a more fun job? What kid wouldn't want to do it?"

The dock also includes a kayak ramp so any kayaker on the creek can stop at the Eagle or the Creekside Inn for a drink, snacks or a meal.

Besides paddleboats, the concession rents kayaks.

Paddleboats are $20 an hour with a weight limit of 460 pounds and children must wear a life vest.

Kayaks are $10 an hour.

For kayakers who want to dock their own kayaks to visit the restaurants, there is a $10 fee, which helps cover the cost of dockside staff assisting the boaters, but the customers will receive a $5 voucher for the Smokin' Eagle.

Beaumont said the service will be open from 11 a.m. to dusk every day of the week, but those hours may be adjusted as they learn to gauge demand.

Rentals will not be available during times of heavy water flow on the creek for safety reasons.







Photos: Smokin' Eagle kicks off 2018 Battle of the Bands

By Howard B. Owens


Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew opened its 2018 Battle of the Bands competition with a check presentation of $3,000 to the Golisano Children's Hospital in Rochester. The Coniber family, Jason, Missy, and Hailey, of Le Roy, accepted the check on behalf of the hospital. 

This year, the crew at the Smokin' Eagle hopes to raise $5,000 during the Battle of the Bands competition, which ends in October. In addition to the 50-50 raffle that runs throughout the competition, the Smokin' Eagle will also be selling $15 chicken BBQ tickets for the finale.

The first band up last night was The Fallen, based in Rush, but with members from the region, including Le Roy.

There will be bands competing every Wednesday until the champion is crowned.








This year's judges, Carl Giammarva, Sarah Tonzi, Jackie Whiting, Jeff Kanaley, and Chris Biviano.

Heavy metal band from Le Roy, Invictra, wins Battle of the Bands at the Smokin' Eagle

By Howard B. Owens


Invictra, comprised of four young men from Le Roy, is the Battle of the Bands champion in the annual summer-long contest sponsored by Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew.

Invictra and The Travis Prinzi Band battled in the finals last night in a tent outside the tavern in Le Roy and the judges and audience picked the heavy metal quartet as the winner.

Invictra is Josh Zalar, vocals and guitar, Alex Dunn, guitar, Dylan Thompson, drums, and Steve Stephany, bass.

The band released a single in July, "A Cardinal Sin."  

The band was the first entry to perform this summer and the growth of the band from June to October was apparent in last night's performance. There's a real polish to their performance now. They are tighter, more confident, more polished and perform with greater energy.

In addition to the championship title and a chalice, the band received a $1,000 cash prize.

The Battle of the Bands raised $3,000 for Golisano Children's Hospital.









Smokin' Eagle opens season three of its Battle of the Bands contest

By Howard B. Owens


To kick off the third annual Battle of the Bands at the Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew in Le Roy last night, the owners and management presented a check for $2,600 to the Golisano Children's Hospital in honor the White Family.

The money was raised during last year's Battle of the Bands.

Trisha White, holding the check, credits Golisano's with saving the life of her daughter, Jamie, left, who was born at 25 1/2 weeks and weighed just one pound, seven ounces. Now 12 and doing well in middle school, she's holding a picture of herself at birth with her father's wedding band around her ankle.

"That's how tiny she was," Trisha said.

The Battle of the Bands runs all summer and into October with performances every Wednesday night at the Eagle. Last night, Invictra kicked off the series.







Smokin' Eagle host launch party for Rogers Beer

By Howard B. Owens


At the Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew in Le Roy, the owners hosted an official launch party for Rogers Beer, a beer created by a Rochester brewer and acquired by the owners of the Eagle.

Al Rogers started Rogers Beer more than 12 years ago and achieved some regional success, including 58 Main in Brockport, the BBQ restaurant there owned by Jon and Marc Marcello.

When Rogers told Marc Marcello he was thinking of getting out of the beer business because of growing family commitments, Marc didn't want see that happen so the Marcello brothers and Smokin' Eagle co-owner Jay Beaumont met with Rogers and soon a deal was in place for them to acquire the beer brand and recipes, and as an added bonus, Al Rogers agrees to stay on as master brewer. 

Rogers Beer is now based in Le Roy, though the beer is currently brewed at a facility in Honeoye Falls. But Jon said the goal is to build up the business enough to open a brewery in Le Roy. (Click here for more of the Rogers Beer story.)

Cedar Street Sales and Rentals in Batavia, owned by Guy Clark, sponsored the launch party and the band Free Beer played for the party.










Owners of Smokin' Eagle promoting their own brand of beer, Rogers Beer

By Howard B. Owens


Marc Marcello, Jay Beaumont and Jon Marcello, owners of the Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew in Le Roy were at the bridal show at Terry Hills today with their microbrew, Rogers Beer.

The story of Rogers Beer begins about seven years ago with Al Rogers, a brewer in Rochester who started his own brewery, eventually selling his beer in 12 Wegmans and 30 bars and restaurants in the region.

After the birth of a second child, he needed to give up his sideline business and he walked into 58 Main in Brockport and told Marc Marcello he was giving up the business.

"He delivered the news he was walking away from it and my brother wouldn’t take that for an answer," Jon Marcello said. "We got together and over a few lunch sessions with Jay and Marc, we put an offer in and he accepted. A few days later he called and asked if he could stay on a brewmaster and we told him, 'we don’t know how to make the beer, so that’s perfect.' "

Rogers Beer is now based in Le Roy, though the beer is currently brewed at a facility in Honeoye Falls, but Jon said the goal is to build up the business enough to open a brewery in Le Roy.

The beer is made with 20-percent New York ingredients with the goal of achieving 100-percent New York-grown ingredients within five years.

The five flavors of beer are all on tap on the Smokin' Eagle and at 58 Main and 22-ounce bottles can be purchased for carryout. 

The dog icons on the menu below were all drawn by a local artist featuring dogs from Le Roy.

There will be a kickoff party sometime in February at the Smokin' Eagle for the newly based in Le Roy Rogers Beer. Watch The Batavian for details.


Crowd at Smokin' Eagle cheers Le Roy resident's appearance on Wheel of Fortune

By Howard B. Owens


Lauren Fritz doesn't have regrets about that one spin. She knew she could solve the puzzle. The answer was obvious to her. "The National Mall in Washington." But she played an aggressive game and flicked the wheel around one more time. She hit the big black "Bankruptcy" card on the big wheel on Wheel of Fortune.

"I've thought about it a lot," Fritz said. "I thought about it on the plane ride back, but I wouldn't change a thing."

Appearing on Wheel of Fortune was a lifelong dream for Fritz. As soon as she turned 18, she started applying. When the online application was just putting in her name, she applied. When she had to write a paragraph, she applied. When they started asking for pictures, she applied. When they required a video submission, she applied.

She's not embarrassed to admit, she said, that she's applied hundreds of times, more times than she can count, and during some periods in her life, she's applied every single day to get on the Wheel of Fortune.

She finally made it this year and last night, the episode where she played and hit that bankruptcy aired. The Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew in Le Roy hosted a viewing party for Fritz, her future in-laws, friends and anybody else who showed up, and a lot of people showed up.

She thought it was pretty awesome that her adopted hometown, where she hasn't even lived for that long yet, came out to cheer her on.

And the crowd cheered. They cheered when her face first appeared on the six or seven TV screens in the bar and she was introduced as a resident of Le Roy, NY, which meant more cheers, and they booed when the other contestants were introduced. They cheered when she solved the opening phrase. They moaned in anguish when she hit that bankruptcy.

She won $17,000, which includes a $6,000 trip to North Carolina. That's good enough for Second Place.  

The First Place winner on the episode pocketed $60,000 after qualifying for, and winning, the bonus round.

The way the game played out, Fritz thinks the guy would have made it to the bonus round even if she hadn't hit the bankruptcy. If she hadn't taken one more spin, she would have claimed only a few hundred dollars if she had solved the puzzle at that point.

"I was very happy for him," Fritz said. "It was something I always wanted to do, my lifelong dream. I wish I had made it to the bonus round, obviously, but he has a young family and like anybody, he can use the money, so I was very happy for Lou."

The whole experience was great, said Fritz, who is originally from Grandhaven, Mich. Pat Sajak, Vanna White and the whole Wheel of Fortune crew were super nice, she said. It was touching how they opened their hearts, the studio and the set for two youngsters who spent the day at the studio as part of their Make-a-Wish Foundation wish.

The excitement and fun of the TV show appearance was enhanced, she said, by the getting the support she did from the Le Roy community at the Smokin' Eagle last night.

Fritz is engaged to Jake Whiting, son of Reid Whiting. Lauren and Jake met at the University of Michigan Law School. They will be married in September. Fritz is now an attorney in Rochester and Jake Whiting works with his brother in his father's law firm in Le Roy.  

The couple will settle in Le Roy, she said.

"I appreciate everything everyone has done for me," she said. "It feels like my hometown. Everyone has been so nice."


Former Wiss Hotel awning restored and hung at the Smokin' Eagle

By Howard B. Owens


The journey for the old awning on the former Wiss Hotel to the Smokin' Eagle was a lot longer than a trip across the street and down the block. It involved a $1 auction purchase, some BOCES students, the chance discovering of a historic photo and a lost cat.

Once the decision was made to tear down the Wiss, the Eagle's co-owner, Jay Beaumont, asked Bob Lathan if the village could save the awning. Beaumont had some vague idea that he might want to install it somewhere on the Eagle building at some point.

Once saved, it was added to the Village's surplus property auction, and with no other buyers, Beaumont was able to purchase it for $1.

Then it sat in the DPW lot for eight months because the awning was in pretty bad shape and Beaumont had no real idea what to do with it or how to restore it. Then through a chance meeting with a BOCES official at his daughter's volleyball game, he found out there was a group of students at BOCES who would love to take on just such a restoration project.

Once those wheels were in motion, Beaumont began to wonder what words once appeared on the awning. There was blank spot for the sign, but no sign.

He called one of the building's former owners, Don Pangrazio, and he had no idea. The next day, Pangrazio saw a post on the website Le Roy Then and Now. It was of the Wiss in the 1930s and included the awning.

The sign read, "Tap Room."

Mystery solved.

And Beaumont acquired a copy of that photo. The photo now hangs on the wall of the Eagle, next to an enlargement of the portion of the hotel with the awning. 

When Beaumont got the enlargement back, he looked it over carefully just to see what he might see, and he saw a sign in the window that read "John Hepps."

About this time, Beaumont's cat went missing. He loves his cat and he was pretty upset. The cat went missing on Father's Day. He had us post about the missing cat on The Batavian and he put up fliers around Le Roy.

On Monday, July 4, still missing his cat, Beaumont went down the Eagle in the morning to hang the pictures. His partner Jon Marcello stopped by and Beaumont said, "hey, look at this," pointing the sign with "John Hepps" on it.

Marcello did a quick Google search and found he had been a contractor in Le Roy.

That evening, Beaumont gets a call from a woman, Rose Marie Betts, who thinks she found Beaumont's lost cat. Beaumont drove over to her house thinking, "this is another false lead."

But it wasn't.

Overjoyed, he took his cat home. She was home. She was safe and she was in good health.

"My couldn’t believe that cat came out of the woods that day," Beaumont said.

Beaumont drove back to Bett's house to give her a reward. She refused the money. He decided, well, maybe he could give her a gift certificate to the Eagle.

He told her he was co-owner of the Smokin' Eagle, "but before I could go any further, she goes, 'My grandfather used to own the Wiss and his name is John Hepps.' I was on a high with the cat, but that took me to the next level. My mouth dropped. I couldn’t believe it."

So Betts and her daughter, Christine, were guests of honor last night at the official unveiling of the restored owning inside the Eagle, which also served as the fourth anniversary of the business and a customer appreciation night.

Top photo: Jon Marcello pulls the string releasing the balloon-filled cover on the Wiss awning for its official unveiling.


Beaumont, with the mic, speaks after the unveiling.


Photos: First round of Battle of the Bands at the Smokin' Eagle in Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens


The Smokin' Eagle BBQ & Brew in Le Roy kicked off a summer series Battle of the Bands on Wednesday night.

For each of the next 10 weeks, 10 bands will compete to move on to the next round. One band each Wednesday is playing from at least 8 to 9 p.m. (the period of judging, the bands may play longer).

The series kicked off with a performance by JP Shaggy, from Syracuse.

There will also be bands in the competition from the local area as well as Buffalo and Rochester, said Jimmy B, from Jimmy B entertainment, who is organizing the event with Smokin' Eagle co-owner Jon Marcello.

There is a panel of five judges. They will judge the bands on stage presentation, time management, sound quality, band synchronization, band enthusiasm, and attitude and audience response.

The top six bands move onto the semi-finals. Round 2 will be three weeks of two bands each week, top seed vs. bottom seed. 

The finalists will compete Sept. 19, which is a Saturday, from 2 to 10 p.m. That event will be a fundraiser for a charity yet to be selected. There will be other entertainment along with raffles and drawings.

JP Shaggy is Jason Krueger.  To find out more about him, visit his Facebook page.








Come on out to the Smokin' Eagle tonight and I'll pour you a drink

By Howard B. Owens

There should be some fun times at the Smokin' Eagle in Le Roy tonight -- it's the annual Habitat for Humanity fundraiser, "Pour You A Drink."

All tips to the celebrity bartenders will benefit Habitat.

I'll be there, with Mayor Greg "Porp" Rogers, Bill Pitcher from the Ghost Riders, Joe "The Comedian" Condidorio and Rick Ellis, from the famed band Duke Jupiter. 

The fun starts at 6 p.m. and doesn't stop until 10 p.m.

New haunted house in Le Roy is two floors of fright

By Howard B. Owens

What scares you? Spiders? Clowns? Body parts? Drills and saws? Dark shadows reverberating with terrified screams? How about a crazy Archie Bunker?

Jason Beaumont and Jeff Koch have teamed up to create a massive haunted house filled with just about every terror you could imagine on the second and third floors of the old Eagle Hotel in Le Roy.

Staffed by 40 actors playing ghouls, ghosts and monsters, the haunted house makes its debut Friday.

"After we bought this building a year and a half ago, we found we had lots of space but no practical use for it," said Beaumont, who is co-owner of the Smokin' Eagle, the restaurant and bar on the first floor. "Me and my buddy Jeff had talked at one point years ago about opening a haunted house and one day it hit me, this would be a great place."

Koch is an experienced haunted house builder. He's been doing one staffed by 25 volunteers at his house for 10 years. He said it took more than a month to build each year and was open only one night, Halloween.

The Smokin' Eagle haunted house will be open every Friday and Saturday through Oct. 26 from 8 p.m. until midnight.

The cost of a night of fright is $12. Outside the hotel is a ticket booth. The restaurant will be open, of course, and the ticket booth will also sell popcorn and candied apples.

The hotel space was perfect because it's rundown and was already filled with worn and haggard beds, chairs and dressers, Beaumont said. From there, it was just a matter of the two friends combining their creative energies to come up with a plan.

"This will be a unique experience, especially for people who have never been upstairs in this place," Beaumont said. "We want people to get that genuine experience with a real scare behind it and kind of get a flavor of this old building."

The original hotel was built early in the 1800s.

There's little doubt based on today's tour, the haunted house will deliver several jolts of terror, and Beaumont said the experience should be considered PG-13.

"That's a rough estimate," Beaumont said. "If a kid likes this kind of thing and is 11 or 12, and if the parents are OK with it, we're OK with it."

The tour of about two dozen themed rooms is not, Beaumont said, "for the weak."

Koch said he really hopes people who come through the haunted house will find it thoroughly entertaining.

"I want people to have fun," Koch said. "A lot of people have fun when they get scared. It puts a big smile on their face. They scream for a minute and they laugh the next three. I really get a big kick out that."

Old Eagle Hotel smokin' under new ownership

By Howard B. Owens

The Eagle Hotel in Le Roy may have 200 years of history behind it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a next chapter in life.

The landmark building has fallen into the hands of four young men who have a vision for it that should make it a go-too place for people looking for a good time and good food for many years to come.

John Marcello, Marc Marcello and Jason Beaumont have partnered to transform the Eagle into the Smokin' Eagle BBQ and Brew. They've hired Le Roy resident Shane Burger as their general manager.

"I think the concept, this building, the entertainment, the BBQ, it all kind of goes together," John Marcello said.

Jason Beaumont grew up in Le Roy and first tried to buy the building 10 years ago. It didn't work out, but when the previous owners decided to sell in 2012, Beaumont took another stab at it.

"I grew up there, and this building has so much character that you don’t get in a lot of places," Beaumont said.

Since Beaumont had no experience in the food business -- his background is in the mortgage industry and has been investing in residential properties and doing property management for the past few years -- he started asking his friends John and Marc about how to run the restaurant side of his new building.

The Marcello brothers own 58 Main Street in Brockport, which is a BBQ and brew sports bar and have owned the business for 13 years.

One day, John told him, you know, we're thinking of expanding.

It didn't take long for the old friends to strike a deal on a new concept for the Eagle. The brothers would bring their experience with BBQ and beer and Beaumont would be in charge of the building.

Then they needed to recruit a general manager.

Through mutual friends, John found Shane, who has been a food and hospitality manager for the Holiday Inn and Batavia Downs.

According to John, Burger was a little skeptical at first, and John understood.

"It’s his reputation on the line," John said. "He doesn't want to walk into a place that is just a bar and grill that’s been here for 200 years wasn't going to change. He wants something different and he brings a lot to the table.”

Once Burger understood the concept, he was sold.

" It was one of those things where I thought, ‘why didn’t think of that?' " Burger said. "It fit. It’s a different niche here in Le Roy and I think it’s being well received so far."

Since the Eagle once had a reputation for being a little on the rough side, the owners have hired big security guys for Friday and Saturday nights, installed security cameras and made it clear certain behavior won't be tolerated.

"It's about setting expectations and putting the right atmosphere right out there right out of the gate," Marc said. "The one guy who causes trouble might spend 50 or 80 bucks in a night, but he costs so much more money in the long run."

They intend for the Smokin' Eagle to be a family-friendly atmosphere. To help enhance that, they're going to open up the foyer so people coming in just for dinner can walk straight into the dining room instead of passing through the bar.

The bar itself is the same grand old hardwood counter it's always been (probably from the days when it was a pharmacy), but instead of just eight beers on tap, there are now 20.

Burger has also started booking in more live music as well as comedy acts.

"Le Roy has been starving for something like this," Burger said.

Burger has a lot of plans for the building, from removing the drop ceiling in the bar to restoring the ballroom upstairs.

"I think everybody can look forward to more changes at a slow and steady pace where everybody can feel comfortable," John said.

And then there's the issue of the third floor. It probably can't be returned any time soon to apartments or hotel rooms, but the ambiance is right for a haunted house come October.

A friend of Beaumont's has run a haunted house for years and they've always wanted to do one together, so now Beaumont has the space.

There may already even be a ghost in residence to give guests a little extra fright.

The ghost is known as "Charlie" and according to Beaumont the previous owner and previous employees have told stories about him.

Is Charlie for real? John laughed and said, "I’ve had some experiences when we first got here. I’m not going to go way into it, but some really creepy stuff, yeah."

As for the food, the menu features smoked pork, either pulled or ribs, and there's pulled-pork potato boats and egg rolls for a little different approach to BBQ. The two-page menu has a variety of other items and side dishes.

John and Marc Marcello started in the food business in high school, working as bus boys at the Village Diner in Brockport. When they moved to Irvine, Calif., they opened a restaurant with their father.

Then about 13 years ago, they wanted to return to WNY and heard their former employer was ready to sell, so they bought the restaurant and changed the name to 58 Main Street. 

Five or six years ago, a very popular BBQ joint in Brockport was shut down and the brothers hired a few key employees. They taught them the BBQ business and BBQ became a staple of 58 Main.

John, Marc and Jason have, over the years, traveled to various BBQ competitions, entering their own dishes. At the competitions, they found other chefs were quite willing to share their own experience and techniques, so they've been able to improve and refine their own smoking skills.

"It’s a learning experience every day," Marc said. "Every day we learn something new or we tweek something and do it a little differently."

Based on what Billie and I have sampled so far, the brothers and their cook staff -- Chris Miller and Brian Canale -- have learned their lessons well.

Photo: From left, Shane Burger, Marc Marcello, John Marcello, Jason Beaumont.

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