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Blue Monk owner buys Quaker Bonnet Eatery, opening place with 'wild burgers,' 'world-class beer list'


By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Veteran caterer and restaurateur Liz Kolken is selling Quaker Bonnet Eatery and four other Allen Street buildings to Mike Shatzel, an owner of Coles and Blue Monk.

Shatzel said he is turning the restaurant, at 175 Allen St., into a place with “wild burgers and a world-class beer list.” He aims to open by June 1.

Quaker Bonnet isn’t going out of business, Kolken said. She’ll move her wholesale, retail and catering operation to 69 Chenango St., where Quaker Bonnet has maintained production space.

Quaker Bonnet Eatery will be closing on March 25, and reopening on Chenango Street on April 7. “We’ll still do retail, takeout lunches, delivery, wholesale, catering and web stuff,” she said.

Kolken is selling five buildings: 173 Allen St., a former Quaker meeting house; 175 Allen St., the Eatery building; 181 Allen, the wooden house next to it; a carriage house in the back, and a storage garage. The contract has been signed, she said.

Kolken said that she never listed the properties, “because there were only a few people I trusted, who would have the appropriate stewardship for the property to be able to handle it.”

Mike Shatzel, whom she has known since he was three, has been like family, she said. “I went to high school with his mother. I’ve known his father Dave Shatzel since the days of Laughlin’s. Michael went to high school with my kids. There’s a sandwich at Coles named after my son, and we’ve always had a Shatz on the menu, named after him.”

Why sell? “I decided that my 70th birthday was coming and I didn’t want to be a landlord anymore,” said Kolken, who bought the buildings in 2002. “I needed time to myself. I have grandchildren now.”

For Shatzel, who grew up in a restaurant family headed by his father Dave, it scratched an itch he's had for decades. He described drinking at Colter Bay as a younger man, and being jealous of the places flooded with crowds from the Allentown Art Festival and St. Patrick’s Day parade. “It just kind of stuck in me that eventually I have to get a place on Allen. This is a dream come true.”


Buffalo food blogger asks for help turning his culinary dream into innovative restaurant

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Buffalo food blogger Jeremy Horwitz has invited Western New York food lovers to help make his restaurant dream come true.

On Tuesday he announced plans for Mercado

"Curated by an amazing chef, Mercado will create a central hub for Western New York artisanal foods and upscale casual dining, bringing over 15 distinctive dining options - chef- and artisan-operated - under one roof for the first time in local history," according to the project's Kickstarter page

Horwitz seeks donations of $150,000 to defray opening costs. Donors get their money back if the project doesn't go forward.

No one has tried to crowdfund such an ambitious restaurant proposal before in Western New York. It has the potential to measure how optimistic local eaters are about the future of the nascent Buffalo restaurant scene -- especially the younger generation, who hit the Kickstarter button without fretting that hackers will steal their credit card.

Here's part of his pitch: "Imagine a single destination where Western New Yorkers with different tastes could all find great things to eat. A place where you could mix and match your meal: a drink from a soda fountain, two plates of dim sum, some Spanish cheese and olives, then a freshly-made crepe for dessert. Or a place where you could pick up locally-made artisanal foods to bring home: freshly made tortillas for tacos, aquas frescas, and churros with the area's best ice cream. How often would you visit?"

Horwitz suggests that getting foodish entrepreneurs together in one space can have a synergistic effect that will benefit the community.

"Cooperation is one of Mercado's key principles. Rather than playing a zero-sum game, we believe in win-win scenarios - a rising tide that lifts all ships. The chefs and artisans within Mercado will collaborate, using their combined products and skills to make incredible new things that Buffalo - maybe even the world - could never have imagined before. (Shhh... we're already working on it together, and it's really happening!)"

Horwitz is a Buffalo native and editor-in-chief of, a website dedicated to Apple devices and accessories. He also founded, offering reviews on restaurants in Western New York and around the world.

He's a huge fan of Chef Jose Andres, the award-winning Spanish-born chef who has built luxury restaurants from coast-to-coast selling little plates of fine food reinvented as avant-garde artworks. After Horwitz visited Minibar, Andres' 12-seat jewelbox of a restaurant in Washington, D.C., Horwitz posted his review on, including a photo of Minibar Chef de Partie Scott Kollig.

Kollig noticed, and sent Horwitz an email. They started corresponding, and exchanging ideas. Kollig, who is from Clarence, has worked at nationally celebrated restaurants like WD-50 and Cafe Boulud. He is working as assistant sommelier at Four Seasons Baltimore.  

Horwitz is looking for a place to lease, and could have an update on the site before the Kickstarter campaign ends in 37 days or less, according to Mercado spokeswoman Nanette Tramont, who teaches in the Communication Department at SUNY Buffalo State and is Kollig's mother.

If Mercado happens, her son is coming home. The rest of Western New York might have good reasons to celebrate as well.


Grilled beef bundles, spring roll kits highlight Vietnamese feast at Pho Dollar restaurant

Pho dollar 028

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

The printed menu at Pho Dollar (322 W. Ferry St., 768-0049) is among the worst I've ever seen, in terms of the chasm between its physical form, set in brutally small type, and the undiscovered glories it conceals.

So here's a guide, in pictures and words, to my meals there, with handy dish numbers for easier ordering. Check out the full review in Thursday's Buffalo News.

The pho at Pho Dollar is good, as in the pho tai above ($8.95, No. 23), but I didn't think it was better that 99 Fast Food. That said, most of the broad variety of dishes we tried beside the pho outshone 99 Fast Food, and every other Vietnamese place in town.

Continue reading "Grilled beef bundles, spring roll kits highlight Vietnamese feast at Pho Dollar restaurant" »

Agave restaurant opens, offering al pastor, other authentic Mexican tacos in Elmwood Village

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Agave has opened.

Located at 765 Elmwood Ave., the former Blue Fin Asian Bistro, it's Mexican restauranteur Sergio Mucino's try at selling the kind of tacos that Mexicans like. It opened its doors for business at about 2:30 p.m. today.

It’s smaller than Mucino's other Buffalo restaurant, Don Tequila on Allen Street, and will have a smaller menu, he said. 

But that menu will include Mexican specialties not available in Buffalo now, including tacos al pastor (chile-marinated pork with pineapple) and soups like posole (pork stew with hominy) and menudo (tripe in chile broth). There will also be vegetarian options, like black beans.

Mucino said he wants to offer Buffalo Mexican food just like it's made in Mexico City.

Workers are still finishing up outfitting the place, said manager Herbert Arias. So don't expect the most organized atmosphere. But cooks have started dishing up al pastor, carne asada, carnitas and other tacos, if you want to give the new place a try.


On Hertel Avenue, Fiamma restaurant reborn as BOSS, with renovated rooms and lower-priced menu

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

The former Fiamma luxe steakhouse on Hertel Avenue has been reborn as BOSS, Buffalo’s Original Steak and Seafood.

It opened Feb. 13. Changes run deeper than the name and new gas torches outside, said Michael Vaccaro, now sole owner of BOSS (1735 Hertel Ave., 551-6499) and Bambino, 297 Franklin St.

The restaurant has been gutted and updated, Vaccaro said, the upstairs space has been renovated to make it cozier. The steak and seafood dominated menu has been brought down a notch in price, and now the $20-$45 entrees come with a side dish.

“Fiamma did very well back in its day,” Vaccaro said. “But it kind of lost its touch when it opened and closed, opened and closed. So I just felt like it needed a facelift.”


Help us crown the rightful heirs: Who makes the best Buffalo wings in Western New York?

Doc Sullivan's
Doc Sullivan's on Abbott Road in South Buffalo serves 'Smitty Style' chicken wings. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)


By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Who are the rightful heirs to the Buffalo chicken wing throne?

The Anchor Bar invented them, and Duff's has been its most prominent competitor for decades. In their shadow, though, many places in Western New York have honed - some would say perfected - the Buffalo style chicken wing. Help us celebrate them.

What’s your favorite Buffalo chicken wing spot in Western New York that’s not the Anchor Bar or Duff’s? Help us decide which places deserve to share the spotlight as the Buffalo chicken wing turns 50 in March, for an upcoming story in The Buffalo News.

If your favorite isn’t here, send an email to – tell us where to find your favorite, and why you love it.


When gold medal flu strikes: Where Buffalo's watching the U.S.-Canada OIympic hockey game

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Not that you would ever concoct a reason to slip away at lunchtime for hardcore hockey mayhem. But if you did, here are some suggestions from readers:

Mes Que, the most hockey-lovingest soccer bar you will ever find, 1420 Hertel Ave.

Salumeria Belsito, another Hertel option with half-price drinks during the game, 1368 Hertel Ave.

Pizza Plant, with a wiiiide screen and happy hour starting early on their top-notch craft beer selection, 7770 Transit Road, Amherst  

Essex Street Pub, it's not a big place but the food has swagger, 530 Rhode Island St.

Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar, opening at noon, 253 Allen St.

Alternative Brews, a smoker's bar, 3488 Sheridan Drive, Amherst

Cole's, for broad food and beer selections, 1104 Elmwood Ave.

Flattery's Irish Pub, "one of the hottest sports bars in Western New York," welcoming even newspaper journalists to their party, 1130 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca.

Honorable mention:



Amherst restaurant banning Canadian beer during U.S-Canada Olympic men's hockey game

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Olympic hockey fever burns so brightly that one Amherst restaurant is banning the sale of Canadian beer during tomorrow's U.S.-Canada semifinal elimination game.

Amherst Pizza & Ale House, 55 Crosspoint Parkway, is taking a stand against Molson Canadian, Labatt, and other brews from the Great White North, at least from noon to about 2:30 p.m., an Ale House employee confirmed.

"This is a patriotic matter, thanks for your understanding," an Ale House flyer says.


Here's the best 5 places to drink craft beer in Western New York


By Matt Kresconko

Beer isn’t just about who has the best commercials anymore. To many, it’s about the wide range of flavors and styles that are being produced by the thousands of small craft brewers across the globe. Pairing a bottle of beer with your dinner, instead of pairing a six pack with your recliner. 

People in their younger twenties are coming of age, in a beer-drinking sense, wondering why anyone would choose the alternative. It’s not just hipsters that are embracing craft beer, willing to pay more for better brews. It’s baby boomers that lived on Bud, Miller, and Coors for decades.

I’ve been a craft beer lover for the better part of a decade. It’s not just a beverage for me, it’s a hobby. I love reading about it, talking about it, brewing it, and writing about it. When I head out, I’m looking for craft beer. The best places don’t necessarily have the most taps. Beer is a perishable commodity, especially draft beer. An old keg, or dirty draft lines can produce putrid flavors that no brewer would want you to taste in their beer. What I look for is places that love their craft beer as much as I do, and prove that to me on a consistent basis with knowledgable service and fresh untainted beer.  So, where’s the best beer bars in Buffalo? Here are my nominations:

  1.  Blue Monk 

            727 Elmwood Ave. Buffalo, NY



The number one spot for beer in Buffalo. A giant blackboard listing the 32 taps showcases craft brewers from around the globe. Belgian and American beers are often joined by German, Italian, Dutch, and Norwegian offerings. Patrons typically order by the number of the tap, instead of attempting to properly pronounce their choice to the bartenders. “I’ll have an eight,” is much easier than “I’ll have a Duchesse de Bourgogne.”

Continue reading "Here's the best 5 places to drink craft beer in Western New York " »

Local blogger Nittany Epicurean enjoys dinner at Tempo, in words and pictures

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Michael Chelus, who blogs at The Nittany Epicurean, had dinner with his family recently at Tempo, one of the city's finest restaurants.

Here's his report, with lots of photos that might make you hungry.


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