Prominent downtown restaurant to be replaced by southern-themed eatery, apartments
OSWEGO — The Global Buffet building in downtown Oswego will be demolished early next month to make way for a mixed-use commercial and residential building, officials and developers said on Tuesday.
Part of the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow and developer Atom Avery said the busy corner of West First and Bridge Streets would soon be home to a new five-story building set to include housing units and a 60-seat eatery.
A $560,000 sale of the 189 W. 1st St. lot from previous owner Qiu Jiang to Avery’s Litatro Building LLC was completed on Feb. 28, according to county property tax records.
“The biggest component of our downtown revitalization plan was to try and solicit local developers to invest in our downtown, so to see all of this private investment and this kind of confidence of businessmen and developers in downtown Oswego is very encouraging,” Barlow said. “I am relieved that these projects are finally getting off the ground. It's been a long road to get to this point but I am excited about this spring and summer.”
The centerpiece of the development is new restaurant Southern Fare.
Patrick Mitchell, Southern Fare’s owner, says with a roux of “fun,” soaked in a marinade of “homecoming” and seasoned with “community support,” his establishment will focus on serving southern food that is different enough for Port City palates but carries a sense of comfort.
A veteran of the restaurant industry and Oswego native whose first job was as a dishwasher at The Press Box, Mitchell said he appreciates the support he’s received since coming back to the city.
“It’s so great to come home and be welcomed with open arms from a community that I grew up in,” Mitchell said.
One of his formative experiences in the restaurant industry came when he was bartending in the warehouse district of New Orleans.
“It’s just a city that I love so much and a city that was so welcoming to me and to tourists and guests,” Mitchell said.
He said that experience and the inclusiveness of the community in New Orleans helped him decide on the theme for Southern Fare.
“I have always wanted to come back to Oswego and open something for myself, and the challenge to me was to always find something different enough, but has enough comfort in it where it is right for everyone,” he said.
Reached by phone and in person Tuesday, Global Buffet employees declined to comment on the status of the establishment and its future plans.
“Southern Fare is an excellent announcement because it is going to be a perfect restaurant for downtown,” Mayor Billy Barlow said. “It is something that doesn't exist already; southern style food, a 60-seat restaurant right in our core downtown, and I think it is just a prime location."
Barlow also announced Tuesday a $25,000 grant from the state’s Community Development Block Grant program managed by the city’s Office of Economic Development to aid the restaurant, which is scheduled to bring initially 10 new jobs to downtown Oswego.
Avery called the Global Buffet site a “cornerstone” of the city, and said the development of a culinary scene in downtown Oswego is steadily gaining momentum, something he said has been under constant criticism.
“So often people talk about us not having necessarily jobs in Oswego but the fact of the matter is, I think that we do, but those people choose to live in other cities.” Avery said. “I think this site and the restaurant vibe of all downtown Oswego is getting better.”
Mitchell said he picked items that were emblematic of different regions of the American south; items like hushpuppies from Virginia, fried chicken recipes from South Carolina and jambalaya and gumbo recipes from Louisiana.
“The commonality was that it is approachable food but it is different enough,” Mitchell said. “The theme was to pick the fun items from each different area from the south and kind of put them all under one menu and make it fun.”
He added that no matter where the location, his mission as a restaurant owner remains simple.
“It's about great service, great food and making sure you execute that every time in order to have that customer come back,” Mitchell said,
Adding to the culinary diversity of the city, Barlow said, the restaurant will be well-received by the community.
“I think sometimes in Oswego we get weary of the options we have, and I think implementing this new restaurant with food that isn't offered anywhere else in town will be well-received by residents,” Barlow said. “I believe it will be a successful place in the future.”
Barlow added that while there might be some congestion and a back up because of construction, he does not foresee a detour at this time.