In mid-August, two beloved restaurants in the University Heights neighborhood of Buffalo closed their doors for the foreseeable future.
On August 16, Lake Effect Diner turned off its lights after serving the UB community for 19 years. The next day, The Steer Restaurant and Saloon followed, after 28 years in business. Both restaurants were located on Main St., a few blocks from the UB South Campus, and have been very popular with UB students over the years.
Owner Tucker Curtin said WGRZ buffalo that the closures are the result of labor shortages and supply chain issues.
Curtain says Buffalo Business First in an interview that the stress of being understaffed and overworked was quickly reaching a breaking point.
“It becomes a breakdown in the product that we deliver, and we don’t want to aim for mediocrity when we’ve had such a good, long run and such a good reputation,” Curtain said. “I prefer to leave on a high note.”
But just two days after The Steer closed, Erin Campbell Curtin, Tucker’s wife and restaurant collaborator, posted on Instagram that it was not consulted on the closure decision and that it undertakes to keep the restaurants open.
“Steer Restaurant and Lake Effect Diner are family businesses that Tucker and I have run with our kids since 1993,” said Campbell Curtin. “I was not consulted on the sudden closure of the two restaurants. I am committed to keeping the restaurants open. Along with our dedicated staff, I look forward to welcoming our loyal customers once again. Stay tuned!”
It’s unclear whether the two sites will reopen, but the Instagram post was met with support from the UB community and students.
August 20, Buffalo News reported that Campbell Curtin has filed a legal challenge against restaurant closings by Tucker Curtin; Tucker later said his wife was not associated with the company.
Spectrum reached out to Tucker for comment, but at time of publication he had not responded.
Ciara Burke, an economics student, says she is saddened by the closure. Burke once met actress and comedian Tina Fey while eating there.
“I have had a lot of funny memories there over the years. When I was in first grade, I went there for dessert with a new friend, and it was my first time taking a bus to South Campus, ”said Burke. “In second grade I went there for my birthday dinner because I was on crutches and ended up meeting Tina Fey. When I was a junior and everything seemed a bit depressing, I had brunch with my friends between online classes and shared a lot of laughs. It’s honestly pretty sad that I couldn’t make more fun memories there during my last year at UB.
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In April 2020, 199 Delaware Avenue Inc., Tucker’s company, has received $ 129,000 in Paycheck Protection Program loans to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lake Effect Diner is notable around Buffalo for previously presented in Season 7, Episode 13 of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives hosted by Guy Fieri. In the episode, Fieri reviewed the restaurant’s smoked bacon and ham and the red-eyed sauce made from scratch.
Curtain Tucker already pursued Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream in 2019, claiming the creamery had infringed the restaurant’s brand and confused customers who thought the two were related. As part of the original lawsuit, Curtain asked the creamery to rename itself and sought damages for the period that the two companies shared a similar name. Both companies agreed to drop the lawsuit.
While he said it pained him to do it, Curtain told the Buffalo News, “The Steer and Lake Effect restaurant is closed and has no plans to reopen.”
Dan Eastman is the associate editor and can be contacted at [email protected]
Julie Frey is the Associate News / Articles Editor and can be contacted at [email protected]