Prominent in Buffalo, New York’s nearly $1 billion tourism-driven redevelopment, the F&B scene is now a tastier draw than ever for the Queen City of the Great Lakes.
“Buffalo is one of America’s greatest food cities, from the birthplace of regional specialties like wings, beef on weck and sponge candy to a dynamic restaurant, brewery, distillery and craft cocktail scene,” said Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Patrick Kaler. “These local flavors provide groups and conventions with the type of memorable meals and dining experiences that will create lasting impressions of our destination and make attendees want to return here for second helpings.”
Repeat customers include fans of the annual National Buffalo Wing Festival. Over the last 17 years, the Labor Day weekend spectacle has drawn more than 865,000 attendees and served over 4.6 million wings. Buffalo’s food traditions also attracted the attention of NYC-based classically-trained cook and self-confessed “wing nut” Arthur Bovino, whose Buffalo Everything food guide comes out in August 2018.
With local tastes also defining the cuisine on both sides of the border in Niagara Falls, the region’s diverse menu offers groups a true taste of the action.
From the latter part of the 19th century until the 1920s, Buffalo was the world’s busiest grain shipping port. Today, its massive grain silos are for nightly light shows, kayaking and vertical tours—and beer.
Boasting a “six-pack” of grain elevators painted to resemble Labatt Blue beers, the multiuse Buffalo RiverWorks waterfront complex features a craft brewery and beer garden from local operator Pearl Street. Nearby eateries Swannie House, Ballyhoo, and Gene McCarthy’s have outdoor patios with views of the elevators.
[Related Content: Q&A With Arthur Bovino, Author of Buffalo Everything]
Other Pearl Street venues include Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, which offers five floors of banquet and event space in a circa-1841 downtown building, and Lafayette Brewing Company at the 57-room Hotel at the Lafayette, a Trademark Collection Hotel.
Housed with the hotel in a 1904 French Renaissance-style landmark building designed by America’s first female architect, Louise Bethune, the brewery’s wood-paneled rental spaces include the inviting Fireplace Room and 225-capacity Greenhouse Room, with private outdoor courtyard.
Evocative dining environments are common in this city of architectural masterpieces. Built in 1896, the Ellicott Square Building was once the world’s largest office building. Today, groups can dine at catered events under the glass skylight of this Italian Renaissance-style landmark’s Atrium.
Founded here in 1945, global food products supplier Rich Products is also a leading area supplier of catering and special events services.
At the company’s headquarters, the Atrium @ Rich’s is a 600-capacity function space featuring a three-story fireplace built with bricks reclaimed from a 19th century Chicago warehouse.
Opened in 1880 as an insane asylum, the national landmark Richardson Olmsted Campus is a Buffalo icon. Following a nearly $100 million transformation, a portion of H.H. Richardson’s Romanesque buildings and Frederick Law Olmsted’s grounds are now the Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center. Honoring Olmsted, the resort’s 100 Acres: The Kitchens at Hotel Henry features a sustainability focused menu and craft cocktails.
Other iconic restaurants include Schwabl’s—dating to 1837 and located in Buffalo suburb West Seneca, N.Y.—known for its roast beef on Kummelweck.
Modern experiences include Expo, a cafeteria-style eatery at downtown’s Market Arcade, and cutting-edge kitchen showroom Artisan Kitchens & Baths, hosting meetings and food competitions.
In 2017, the former Niagara Tourism & Convention Corporation became Destination Niagara USA, with a new tourism marketing message: “Niagara Falls USA, Where Adventure Comes Naturally.”
The campaign speaks to visitors who want to “actually experience and touch and feel and do,” stated Destination Niagara USA President and Chief Executive John Percy.
In an area rich with agricultural and culinary resources, F&B experiences are naturally one way to go. Diverse standouts include the historic Red Coach Inn Restaurant (1923), with banquet rooms for 50; event-capable Becker Farms (1894), home of Vizcarra Vineyards and Becker Brewing; and the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.
Programs at the Institute include hands-on culinary, baking, and beverage classes, competitions and teambuilding exercises. Event and banquet space include the Chef’s Table in the open kitchen, the private dining room in the on-site Savor restaurant and a three-floor atrium.
Renowned as a world center of agriculture and viticulture, Canada’s Niagara region flows with distinctly local culinary experiences. Rising 775 feet above Niagara Falls, the Skylon Tower features the famed Revolving Dining Room and 200-capacity Summit Suite for private dining and functions.
Other restaurants with views of the Falls include Queen Victoria Place, offering indoor and outdoor dining with private space in the third-floor Commissioner’s Quarters.
The restaurant participates in Feast On, a signature program of the Toronto-based Culinary Tourism Alliance certifying restaurants that champion Ontario food and drink.
Steps from the brink of Horseshoe Falls, event-capable Elements on the Falls is another Feast On member, featuring farm-fresh cuisine from award-winning Executive Chef Elbert Wiersema and world-class wines from Niagara’s vineyards.
Host venue each April for the preeminent four-day Niagara Food & Wine Expo, the Scotiabank Convention Centre features locally harvested fare from Executive Chef James Price and team.
Niagara is Canada’s largest wine producing region, with many of its 100-plus wineries and winery estates hosting tours and events.
BUFFALO/NIAGARA CVB CONTACT INFORMATION
Destination Niagara USA
Niagara Falls Tourism (Canada)
Niagara Parks Commission (Canada)
Visit Buffalo Niagara