Sunday News: Billy Club owners making history in Lewiston
Plus Griffon Brewery debut, Kent Miller on egg prices, Bazaar baby seat update
The historic Frontier House in Lewiston has a new breath of life. In its 200th year, Billy Club owners Jake Strawser and Dan Hagen plan to return the two-century-old building to its original restaurant use, as Fairbanks.
The building is alive again with the sounds of workers, not to demolish the building, but to save it for another generation.
In its lifespan the building has been a tavern, the “finest hotel west of Albany,” and a McDonalds. Now, working with owners Ellicott Development, the partners seek to expand the success of their Allen Street spot.
“We're currently in demolition, which is pretty much done, and we are moving forward to all the infrastructure pieces,” Strawser said. “Our plan is, summer.”
Because of the building’s structure, with exterior walls of 30-inch-thick solid stone, the renovation focused on interior updates, Strawser said. “It's basically running the mechanicals, putting the ceilings back up, and then fixtures and furniture.”
Fairbanks, named after Joshua Fairbanks, one of the original builders, will take up the first floor and basement. Two dining rooms and two bars on the first floor, with open kitchen and chef’s counter, with the basement for private dining and wine cellar. It should seat about 100.
The menu will be much like Billy Club’s, Strawser said. Expect a locally-fueled menu drawing from area farms and producers with housemade standards.
After coming up in the restaurant trade, then starting Billy Club in 2015 and steering it through turbulent times in the business, Hagen and Strawser took their time satisfying their professional appetites for something bigger.
Two hundred years in, time to write the next chapter at 460 Center St.
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REVIEW: Marble + Rye has fine-tuned its vibe into lowkey adult hangout spot, casual enough for beers and video games, with a compact menu of bespoke dishes snazzy enough for date night, and a drinks program that will leave you feeling positively coddled. Michael Dimmer and crew have been through it, pivoted, and landed on their feet.
STILLWATER AID: On January 29, the horse barn at Stillwater Farm burned. The animals escaped unharmed, but the structure was destroyed.
Owner Jay Braymiller and his family host an annual chef dinner series that raises money to help Roswell Park patients, and gives children undergoing cancer treatment a pleasant distraction at a terrible time in their lives.
Here’s the GoFundMe link to contribute.
Then I thought about the subject more. Y’know, the part that should come before the tweeting. Then I thought of who would actually know something about egg pricing. Then I sent the article to Kent R. Miller of Plato Dale Farm, and asked for a wee bit of education.
Good thing, because I was flat wrong. Have a seat, because Professor Miller is going to take us to egg school.
Another year, another outbreak of bird flu.
The avian bird flu, or H5N1 virus, can be carried by most bird species. The problem for American agriculture is that it’s highly contagious and deadly to egg and meat production poultry. Since 2022, avian bird flu has destroyed flocks from coast to coast, with more than 82 million birds euthanized.
This year’s first large-scale infections have been centered in “The World’s Egg Basket” near Petaluma, California. Of California’s nearly 300 million egg-layers, about one million have been affected. Regulators, CDC researchers and USDA scientists are working with farms across the region to test, identify and remove any infected flocks.
While concerning, this relatively small outbreak has not yet affected egg supplies locally. While we have some local suppliers, like Kreher Farms, most of our eggs come from Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Traditional areas of egg production are quite rapidly moving to areas of intense grain production. It is more efficient to transport eggs than to move grain long distances. New York has about 151 million birds, while Ohio, Indiana and Iowa each have about 1 billion birds that are held by large, vertically integrated farms.
These states rule the roost with regard to production and pricing on commodity eggs. In 2022, an avian flu outbreak hit those areas, increasing Western New York prices.
The outbreaks of bird flu in California are concerning for all of us, but so far local supplies have not seen any real effect. The warm weather may exacerbate the infection rates in the coming months, but we hope that our local flocks won’t experience the devastation.
The current California outbreak will not cause egg shortages or price hikes here in Western New York. We need not worry, for the moment. - Kent R. Miller
BAZAAR BABY CHAIRS: Last week, a reader noted that the new West Side Bazaar, 1432 Niagara St. had no high chairs suitable for infant restaurant use, disappointing for a community venue with eight restaurants, a bakery, bubble tea, and a bookstore.
I relayed the question to Bazaar staff. They located a backordered furniture shipment, assembled four baby chairs, and stationed two on each floor of the bazaar.
Now both of Buffalo’s bazaars have baby chairs: Downtown Bazaar, 617 Main St., in the Theater District, and West Side Bazaar, 1432 Niagara St.
Buffalo-area food coverage roundup by Michael Chelus:
This week on the Nittany Epicurean, I wrote about the 2022 Bonny Doon Vineyard The Great Tannat, the 2020 Cameron Hughes Wine Lot 820 Gavi Piemonte DOCG and the 2021 Smokescreen Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.
Have a suggestion for a story or article? Contact me via email, message me on Facebook through the Nittany Epicurean page or Tweet at me @michaelchelus.