Two years after coronavirus hit, restaurant customers who got used to summoning dinner from their couch in their pajamas have found it a luxury they want to keep.
Most restaurants operators aren’t as keen on the change, since the profits can be slim to none on orders through nationwide food courier services like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. That’s a major reason that Buffalo-born delivery service Appetit has been finding new fans.
Appetit is the delivery app that lets restaurants and drivers keep more of that cheddar. Appetit costs restaurants $99 a month, a flat fee no matter how many orders go out. The other apps charge restaurants per order. Launched as a webpage, the service got its smartphone app launched two months ago.
Without advertising, more than 3,000 diners downloaded Appetit, said partner Steve Ambrose. “The app is not perfect, but it’s a huge improvement,” he said. “Now that we have something that we feel confident in, at least the basics, we can start to really do the marketing that’s necessary to compete.”
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Appetit bumps up restaurant menu prices by 10% on the app. “That covers all their costs to do digital transactions, and they keep 100% of that sale,” Ambrose said. Restaurants finding success with the Appetit app include Off the Wall Sandwich Co. in Orchard Park, Fat Bob’s Smokehouse, Café 59, Café Godot, and Macy’s Place Pizzeria.
“It’s hard to educate the average consumer in the economics of takeout, but that’s something that is going to be part of our marketing campaign,” Ambrose said of the coming push. “If locals really understood the difference, I think a lot of people would take that to heart.”
Mexican classic with a twist: A fan of the street corn he enjoyed in Texas, Ross Warhol of BriteSmith Brewing shows us how he puts a Buffalo twist on it with this elote dip. Served hot or cold, get the breakdown of this quick 20-minute recipe. Dig in here >>
Sponsored by Orville’s Home Appliances
Colter Bay: Dinner at this upscale tavern at the corner of Delaware and Allen seems calculated to prove that living well really is the best revenge. From oozy-yolked Scotch eggs, deep-fried in a sausage jacket, to bacon-fat-confited baked potatoes, and a French onion short rib dish with essence of Vietnamese pho, Colter Bay’s exuberant menu seeks celebrants. Read more
Next week: Bidwell: A few blocks west on Allen Street, the former Sample space contains another unique-for-Buffalo culinary concept. At Bidwell, an experienced restaurant couple offers 12 diners at a time a nine-course meal drawing heavily on New York State bounty. If you’re the right sort of customer, the results are extraordinary. Read more
OPENINGS & CLOSINGS
Munch Buffalo: Froth Brewing Co., 700 Military Road, has upgraded its food offerings by bringing in A.J. Giordano’s fired-up lineup of creative sandwiches, salads, seafood, tacos, and french fry applications.
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Read more
Eastern Hills brews: Steel Leaf Brewing Co. will celebrate its grand opening April 29 and 30 at 4545 Transit Road, the Eastern Hills Mall. More than a half-dozen Steel Leaf beers will be flowing, including Fruitknox, Falling Barn brown ale, Honey Blonde ale, mango-lime sour, and a selection of New York State cider, wine, and liquor.
The kitchen will be offering food, and bowling alley reservations are filling up. Phone: 716-428-3050. Read more
MORE RESTAURANT INTEL
Orchard Park beer: The long-discussed brewpub from Brad Rowell and the people behind Grange Community Kitchen and West Rose will be called Wayland Brewing Co., to be located at 3740 N. Buffalo St.
“Committed to the idea that real craftsmanship reflects real caring, every element of our operation, from the greenhouse-inspired taproom to the refined event space to the on-site brewery has been designed to evoke the serenity of days gone by,” its Instagram page said.
Don’t expect the place to be receiving guests before late summer. But the plans include a brewery, restaurant, beer garden, and even a bocce court. Read more
Torrent Niagara Falls: Inside the Sheraton Niagara Falls, 300 Third St., the main bar, restaurant, and nightspot has gotten a thorough facelift.
Dubbed Torrent, upgrades include an interior design makeover, new flooring, more televisions, seats, and new lighting. A water wing mural, selfie bait for vacationers, is now emblazoned on a wall outside of Torrent’s main doors, inside the hotel lobby.
Chef Pete Deeb, who used to run the one man Lebanese show called Poppa Pete’s on Kenmore Avenue, runs the kitchen, turning out flatbreads, pastas, salads, entrees and desserts. There’s also a seasonal cocktail list at the property, on the corner of Old Falls Street, across from the Seneca Niagara Casino. Read more
ASK THE CRITIC
Q: My mother hasn’t eaten in a restaurant for years, but decided during the pandemic she was willing to try. What are some of the newer places that I could take her for brunch on Mother’s Day?
A: Grange Community Kitchen, Toutant, Britesmith Brewing, Frankie Primo’s, Graylynn, Billy Club, Waxlight Bar a Vin, come to mind as more recent arrivals, in the last decade. Please remember that Mother’s Day brunch is the most sought-after table of the year, so reservations are essential.
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