Brennan’s Bowery Bar closed last week after drawing customers to Clarence for 52 years, as the restaurant group it once anchored steers full speed ahead into summertime with its remaining armada of eight restaurants.
The Terrace at Delaware Park, Liberty Hound at Canalside, Allen Burger Venture, Cole’s and Thin Man Brewery on Elmwood, Colter Bay, Moor Pat in Williamsville, and Moor Room on Hertel are the rest of Shatzel Group. It employs about 350 people, Mike Shatzel said.
But Brennan’s Bowery Bar, opened in 1970 by his father, Dave Shatzel, was a key part of the group’s success. Run by his brother Dave Jr. for many years, it was the flagship of the Shatzel Group for decades, but business was dropping. In the end, the family decided to stop losing money to operate the restaurant, Mike Shatzel said.
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“Brennan’s was the first one, opened in 1970, and the biggest operation, at least square-footage-wise,” he said. “It was a tough decision because it’s the first one we’ve had to shut down due to the numbers not adding up.”
Economic effects of the pandemic hurt, including having to scrap events lined up for Brennan’s 50th anniversary jubilee. Other factors included increased competition in a neighborhood that Brennan’s had anchored for decades. “Fifteen years ago, it was one of the busiest places in Western New York,” he said.
“I think it needed a little facelift that we never gave it, with that old nostalgic look in there. I think the younger generation kind of just viewed it as old, and started looking elsewhere.”
A low-six-figure injection of federal PPP aid helped keep Brennan’s employees working for the last two years, but in the end, Shatzel said, “it wasn’t in the cards.”
Watch as Chef/Owner Ryan Fernandez of Southern Junction gives us a lesson in real Texish barbecue with his ancho maple glazed St. Louis-style spare ribs. Try your hand at these fall-off-the-bone ribs with the full recipe →
Sponsored by Orville’s Home Appliances
bb.q Chicken: Koreans learned to fry chicken from American soldiers, then made it their own by double-frying for delicate crispiness, and presenting it in a variety of sauces from dessert-like to devilish. The global culinary phenomenon makes its entrance into the Buffalo area with an outpost near the University at Buffalo’s North Campus. Read more
Next week: Gene McCarthy’s Old First Ward Brewing Co.: Hard by railway tracks in the Old First Ward, Gene McCarthy’s has been feeding and watering the neighbors for generations. Now it brews its own beer, in addition to serving up one of the best tavern-plus menus in the 716 area code. Read more
OPENINGS & CLOSINGS
Tonawanda gets Nashville: Nashville-sauced fried chicken is the calling card of The Hen House, a food truck and restaurant that took over the kitchen at The Dome Stadium, 200 Main St., City of Tonawanda, a building that’s been a restaurant since at least 1904. Open six days a week, except Tuesday. Phone: 716-694-6317.
MORE RESTAURANT INTEL
Cardoon celebration: Celebrate the cardoon, a thistle-like plant foraged in Sicily and elsewhere, at a July 7 dinner at Tappo Pizza.
Cardoon Night is a fundraiser for Centro Culturale Italiano di Buffalo, the home of the Italian Cultural Center of Buffalo in the former North Park Library, dedicated to teaching the Italian language and celebrating Italian culture.
Volunteers have already cleaned, blanched and frozen the bristly stalks, purchased from Scime’s Sausage.
Dinner, under supervision of Chef Phil Limina, will include wood-fired cardoon and spinach pizzas, cardoon frittatas, deep-fried cardoons, pomodoro rigatoni, braised pork, Italian sausage, meatballs, chicken cutlets, and red and white wine are on the menu. Dessert will be cassata cake with buttercream frosting.
It’ll start at 6 p.m. July 7, at Tappo Pizza, 166 Chandler St. Tickets, $85 or $75 for members, are available through ccibuffalo.org or by calling 716-345-8690. Read more
ASK THE CRITIC
Q: “Andrew Galarneau usually has an attitude of disinterest regarding people with gluten free diets with his carefree comments of ‘many options’ which, of course, he never lists. Today he outdid himself with his comment ‘ask server.’
If there are no gluten options, is the diner who needs them supposed to just go home or what? Does he stay and watch the rest of his eat, knowing that Andrew Galarneau regards him as a second-class citizen?”
– Ann, Fredonia, via email
A. She does have a point.
Since gluten-avoidant folks should have a chance to dine, customers want information on gluten policies. There’s a line in the information box with each Buffalo News review meant to tell gluten avoiders what to expect.
“No” means no, go elsewhere, but that’s quite rare, since practically every restaurant is trying to get a piece of the gluten-free market.
“Many options” has been my contraction of “too many items to list,” but I can certainly do better in pointing out gluten-free dishes in the review.
“Ask server” has been my contraction of “it’s complicated, you should talk to them yourself.” We recently published a collection of suggestions from celiac folks on where to eat, but I can certainly do better on that front in the weekly review as well, and will endeavor to do so.
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