Did you know that there is an intersection on the West Side where Plymouth and Massachusetts meet? At that corner is a small (and I mean small) restaurant space that has been vacant for about a year. Most recently, the same corner played host to a pastelillo take-out shop. When it closed, I wasn’t quite sure what was going to happen… and since this might just be the smallest restaurant in the entire city, I knew that it was going to take just the right owner to make it happen. Fortunately for West Siders, Barbecue Chef Fred Daniel is preparing to open one of the most unlikely eateries that one could possible imagine – a tiny, West Side, white tablecloth, barbecue joint.
When I first walked in to take a look around I couldn’t help but notice that there really was no ‘around’. To the left was the kitchen and to the right were a couple of tables draped with white tablecloths. Tablecloths at a barbecue joint? And candles? What was going on here? I’ve known Fred for quite some time now… so I stood while he sat down to tell me about his passion for food, his heritage and Buffalo. As he spoke, I noticed that on one of the walls hung a series of framed photos. “That’s my father,” Fred told me. “And that’s Bob Marley, Jackie Robinson and Mohammed Ali.” There they were – all of Fred’s idols watching over us as we chatted about Freddy J’s Barbecue.
Being there in that that tiny storefront, at the corner of Plymouth and Massachusetts, listening to Fred, I couldn’t help but think of the pilgrims and the discovery of the New World. You see, although Fred is a true blue Buffalonian, he’s actually originally from Liberia. He came to The States back in 1982, and ever since he’s been cooking his way around town. Although he’s done a few restaurant stints, including Samuel Grand Manor, his claim to fame is rubbing shoulders with Charlie the Butcher. “I first came to Buffalo to attend Buffalo State,” Fred explained. “But soon after I wanted to be part of the tradition of great foods that we have in this city. I love almost every style of cooking – believe it or not I’m going to be hosting a public access cooking show out of here. It’s going to be on Channel 18 (the Late Night Noise show). I’ll be inviting culinary guests to come and talk about what they are cooking.”
Fred is planning on doing a lot more than cooking in this neighborhood. He and his wife just closed on a house on 15th Street. “My wife Staci is going to be working here,” he continued. “And we live around the corner. As for the food, I get possessive when it comes to the recipes – I can tell you that we’re going to have mac and cheese, greens, Jerk and Cajun BBQ wings, baked beans, and a Cajun fish salad. The BBQ ribs will have a deep smoky sauce (a real Buffalo flavor). We’re going to be open from 11am to 8pm… opening day should be June 7th. We’ll also be offering catering and Friday delivery.”
It’ll probably be impossible to snag one of those tables once Fred opens, but I’ll surely try. I’m sure that the street-side patio will also be a hit for those who want to stick around and eat outdoors. I bet that there are plenty of West Side BBQ-lovers who will be adding Freddie J’s to their list of culinary go-tos.
Freddie J’s is located at 209 Massachusetts | Buffalo, NY | 716-885-3656