When Bill Sabio first decided that he wanted to be a restaurateur, he made the decision that he wanted to purchase an existing restaurant rather than starting one from scratch. He made that decision because he figured that he could look for a business that already had many of the ingredients that he was looking for – a high profile location, an attractive presence on the street, good bones (including such features as patio, built out kitchen, bar, etc.)…
When Bill came across Canvas @ 1206, it had all of the qualities that he had been searching for – he liked the way that it looked and felt. “In hindsight,” he told me. “The only thing that I would have done differently is change the name. I’ve been trying to figure out ways to let the neighborhood know that this is a new restaurant, with great food and a classic NYC-style supper club feel, but it’s been an upward battle. Fortunately we’re beginning to turn the corner because our weekend business is picking up thanks to a growing clientele that appreciates the changes that I’m making – right now we’re building a new patio and I’ve changing the color palette of the walls to soften up the dining area and the bar. We’re bringing in a lounge act on Fridays (Gary Quatrani), and on Saturdays we have The Mark Filsinger Jazz Trio. I want Canvas to be the type of place where people can come together and have great food (Chef Chaz LaGreca), listen to live music, while at the same time be able to have a conversation with friends and family, which means that the music has got to be low enough to be socially enjoyable.”
This past Friday I stopped in to see firsthand some of the changes that Bill was talking about. To tell you the truth, I was expecting to sit at the bar, have a beer, talk to Bill, listen to a little music, and move on to another establishment. What I found was an entertaining atmosphere with a lively dining crowd, many of whom appeared to be from the neighborhood. There was a birthday dinner at one table, a family gathering at another table, and every barstool was filled with people enjoying the performance by crooner Gary Quatrani (and friends) – it was as if “Little Italy” had decided to reunite under the roof of Canvas.
“This is how I always envisioned the club,” Bill said. “I wanted to create an atmosphere that was reminiscent of an old world supper club and looking around I think that I’m finally starting to get my message across. This is the reason that I left my career – it’s been a real uphill battle trying to create my own identity without changing the name of the business, but a night like this shows that I can become a dinner destination in North Buffalo. I was born and raised in Buffalo, and I’ve wanted to do something like this for the last 20 years – to create a place where both young and old feel comfortable, the food speaks for itself… I’m proud of this place – I wanted to bring something special to this block of Hertel.”
-Thirsty Thursday Happy Hour starts at 5pm with specials on martinis, beers and appetizers
-Come fall, join Canvas for weekly cooking classes
1206 Hertel Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14216