Betting on Vasilis Downtown

In order to be a Greek restaurant and survive the competition on Elmwood Avenue, a business must serve good food and service. When Vasilis Express first opened on Elmwood (see here) back in December of 2010, there were a lot of people who wondered if another Greek restaurant would be able to hang in there with the heavy hitters. Since that time Vasilis has made a name for itself on the street, and has now done something that warrants a big ‘thumbs up’. Vasilis has opened a downtown location in what was formerly Grillers, and before that ChopChop. 

Vasilis Restaurant, known for its Greek food, is now serving up delicious skillet meals, crêpes, mega wraps, burgers, soups, sandwiches and desserts in a part of the city that should appreciate quick, inexpensive, quality food. We ate at Vasilis yesterday, and due to being completely indecisive when it came time to order, we chose a number of different items including a sampler of all Greek spreads, a fish sandwich, a cheeseburger, a veggie omelet, and a honey crêpe. I figured that the crêpe would be tiny, as it usually is when other establishments serve them up. I was wrong – when the dish arrived I found two large crêpes on my plate that were rich, flavorful and cooked perfectly. The Greek spreads were also excellent, with the tirokafteri (feta cheese, roasted red pepper, olive oil and seasoning) rounding out the medley nicely. The ingredients in the omelet were fresh, the coffee was good, the burger was substantial in size… our table had no complaints whatsoever. 

Vasilis-Downtown-Buffalo-NY-1.jpg
I have a feeling that downtown has landed a real winner with the opening of Visilis. The menu is comprehensive without being overwhelming, and the interior of the restaurant is warm and comfortable – like a Greek diner should be. There are tons of sides to keep the meals from getting too repetitive for office workers, and there’s something for everyone. This location has not been too kind to its previous tenants, but all locations must be properly matched with the right restaurant formula. I believe that Vasilis has figured out what people working downtown are looking for, and I will definitely be heading back to try a few more menu items. I am hopeful that Vasilis is around Downtown Buffalo for a long time, because it brings with it different food options and occupies an important location on Main Street and Cathedral Square. 
καλή τύχη!

Vasilis Downtown – open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday
302 Main Street 
Buffalo NY 14202
716-856-5600

Facebook – Elmwood location

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

24 comments
DelishDish
DelishDish

Just to clarify, it wasn't Delish that was in that space it was Chop-Chop; a sister company of Delish.

I wish VASILIS EXPRESS the best of luck. I love their place on Elmwood!

r129
r129

I'm so tired of hearing the complaints about restaurants not keeping weekend hours downtown. Every time someone chooses to invest their money into opening a new business downtown, it's the same old whining. A big middle finger to downtown? Give me a break! If there was any demand, restaurants would be open. That's simple business. As of right now, there just are not enough people downtown on weekends to patronize restaurants. I know someone will try to make the chicken or the egg argument, but there's no way that a Greek diner is going to draw people downtown to eat who wouldn't be there otherwise. I used to work downtown on weekends at the Central Library. The library is perhaps the only place downtown with any concentration of people on weekends. Even Fables Cafe, right inside the library, with a built-in clientele, and a tremendous volume of weekday business, is not open on weekends. I remember at one time they were, but it must not have made sense. To expect small businesses to lose money just to make some sort of statement is unreasonable.

Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.
Sheldon S. Kornpett, D.D.S.

Is the two story BK on Yonge still open? I was thinking we could grab a couple of burgers before the New Order show.

Rand503
Rand503

Good thing they didn't hire a restaurant designer. We wouldn't know it's a Greek diner with the faux columns.

vaspan
vaspan

Hello everyone this is Vasilis the owner of VASILIS on Main St.,

VASILIS EXPRESS on Elmwood and VASILIS RESTAURANT on Kenmore Ave.

First, I would like to thank BUFFALO RISING for a great write up. I appreciate you in reconizing my hard work. Since 1983 when I first opened Vasilis on Hertel Ave.,it is the first time somebody made me feel so good about what I am doing. It brought tears to my eyes, reading these words.

Thank you to everyone for taking the time in writing all comments for my business. Every word is appreciated. The feedback I get from my new customerson Main St. is if I would consider to open weekend mornings. I would love to have it opened all week 24hrs a day; if I would be guaranteed 100 customers every eight hours. This will be enough for me to cover all expenses of operation. I think the city of Buffalo should start from the heart of the city to build businesses and the "the blood" will be able to flow. Like having Buffalo Bills Stadium downtown!!!!! Just saying.

Thank you all very much.If you read my comments, come in I would like to meet you. At least let me buy you dessert.

ivan putski jr
ivan putski jr

There's a bunker beneathe the library where a lot of them go when the weather gets rough. Downtown hasn't been the same since the two story BK closed.....that was Buffalo's last tie to being a legit big time city .....like NYC, Toronto etc

vaspan
vaspan

yes it is, all Vasilis are the same.

mjd1001
mjd1001

It's dissapointing to see that more places aren't open better hours downtown.

We live in Niagara county, just north of the Falls. Once or twice month, we would love to come into the city just to walk around, look at things, spend an afternoon, etc. Buffalo need a few more places to be open to make it a destination for people like us. I'd much, MUCH rather go shopping in the city than a Mall like the Galleria. If the Galleria was downtown, I'd probably be there 5 times as much as we make the trip to Cheektowaga or Amherst. But, too much of our infrastructure was build to accomodate people who can't live without their car, and don't want to use public transportation. Oh well.

LouisTully
LouisTully

What the hell are you talking about? Have you been hanging out with the folks out front of your building?

You know he's not really a dentist, right?

CindyLee
CindyLee

Well not being ARROGANT or SHORT-SIGHTED, I would like to say how EXCITED I was that they have come here, how PERFECT the location is, and how much WORKING PEOPLE, the Monday thru Friday 8 TO FIVERS, APPRECIATE Vasilis. I was OVER THE MOON when I saw that they were coming, and I plan to KEEP THEM IN BUSINESS SINGLE-HANDEDLY, if I have to. You ungrateful people that want more than you are offered, every single time someone tries something new, should shut up, stop ruining it for the rest of us, and learn to cook!! You twelve eggheads are not the only people in play here, and should learn that you only speak for your own selfish selves! And the dentist is right, you twelve, along with the freaks, junkies and homeless people, (that you are always disparaging), would be the only available customers! What are you thinking?

Millz88
Millz88

I read comments like this on BRO all the time. I also live downtown. I agree, it would be great to have places like Washington Market, Kaydara and Seabar open extended hours through the entire week. However, that's not realistic. It's idealistic. I've become friends with the owners of all 3 businesses. If the demand was there, they'd open longer hours. Although several new apartments have opened throughout downtown, it's not even close to critical mass. The majority of business is during work hours. The new Vasilis is clearly not catering to the brunch crowd on the weekends. It's primary customer will be the downtown office worker during the week. While I agree it would be great to have restaurants and shopping within walking distance at all hours of the week, it's just not profitable for the businesses yet.

ivan putski jr
ivan putski jr

is there even anyone downtown on the weekend during the day?..last time I was there on a saturday afternoon you could shoot off a large cannon...

cookiestastelikesomecookies
cookiestastelikesomecookies

what if they aren't making enough business on the weekend? it doesn't seem very responsible to have weekend hours if they wouldn't be making a profit anyway.

stop taking things so personally.

tjhorner1
tjhorner1

Unfortunately, I don't think that any of the restaurants downtown, save Pearl St., are making money hand over fist.

Is the argument here that if these business had extended hours on the weekends and evenings, they would be packed during these hours? Judging from the restaurants that I've been to that ARE open nights and weekends, this doesn't appear to be the case.

Until it a restaurateur can make enough $$ each hour to offset their staff costs and overhead, they aren't going to be open for those hours. Let's face it...they are in business to make money, as they should be, not as a public service.

I guess the restaurants could charge more for their food, but than they would lack patrons because the food is too expensive. Gotta make money somehow.

My bigger question is, why ARE the shops on Elmwood open during the day, and not at night, when the strip is busiest, but that's another column altogether....

Anyway, glad to see a new food shop downtown! LOVE the Vasilis on Elmwood!

ByronBrownsTie
ByronBrownsTie

I live downtown, and I'm always looking for something that's good to eat in a pinch on the weekends.

Washington Market is open something ridiculous on Saturdays, like 10-3 and not open on Sundays -- at all. Ever. Neither is SeaBar.

The new Kaydara Noodle Bar, also not open on Saturdays for lunch, but they are for dinner.

Its just frustrating because you know these people don't care about the customer as much as they do about making money hand over fist for the short periods of time where volume is key.

Its bothersome.

Polonia
Polonia

MEGA WRAPS VS. MOTHRA!!!

The Boss
The Boss

I remember talking to the original owners of Spot Coffee when they were preparing to open. They told me that the most common advice they heard from locals was do not stay open on weekends or nights downtown. They just brushed it aside and became pioneers to opening downtown on weekends, then he went to jail.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Yeah I was excited until I saw exactly where it was and the hours they'll hold. Perhaps if they located a bit west, closer to where people live and there's activity on weekends, it would have been a better idea.

ByronBrownsTie
ByronBrownsTie

Another spot downtown that won't be open on the weekends. Oh joy.

mattg
mattg

Is Vasilis express and Vasilis downtown the same as the Vasilis on Kenmore Ave? The Kenmore Ave one has my favorite burgers in Buffalo. But the other two look much more "Greek-ish."

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