Ado About Pano's
restaurant has been an essential component of the Elmwood strip for
as long as we can remember. We miss the tiny greasy spoon it once was,
but the new, larger, fancier establishment it becamestill serves the
most satisfying post-drinking-binge cuisine available in the area.
you've probably noticed, the restaurant and its owner, Pano Georgiadis,
have come under fire recently for their plans to level a vacant house
next door to the establishment, largely spurred by a misinformed editorial
by Artvoice's Jamie Moses which erroneously claimed the plan was to
pave the entire lot over for more parking. An online petition to save
the empty "Atwater house," threatening Pano with a boycott,
has been signed by many notable Buffalonians, from writer Bruce Jackson
to "writer" Mary Kunz. A protest of the planned demolition
attracted at least a hundred members of the intellectual leisure class.
No matter that there are hundreds of more valid and pressing concerns
for Buffalo; this was happening in their neighborhood.
to why a rundown, empty house was more vital to these people's enjoyment
of the colorful neighborhood than a thriving eatery, we can only guess.
Many who signed the petition even suggested that Pano relocate his establishment
if he needed to expand, apparently arguing that two vacant buildings
would better serve the community and encourage pedestrian traffic. Some
were less kind and simply stated that Pano's should be torn down.
we wanted to clear things up a little, so we decided to get the other
side of the story. We know Pano, but frankly he scares the crap out
of us since the thankfully distant days when we dish-dogged overnights
at his restaurant. So we decided to ask his son Niko about the debacle.
the history here?
bought the house in 1996. We weren't planning at that time to demolish
the house, but at the same time we wanted to know that if it ever came
to it we could. You have to remember we had only just opened that location
and business was not what it is now. As a rule of thumb you should always
buy your neighbor if you can. It increases the value of both properties.
went to City hall and checked with the Preservation Board, and were
told that it was not a protected property, and that it held no historical
value. Had we been told otherwise we would have never purchased it.
you guys were never planning on making it a parking lot? How'd that
rumor get out there?
Never. And I'm not sure how that started. We are very protective of
the parking we do already have, for obvious reasons, and perhaps people
just couldn't imagine we had anything else in mind. The truth is our
plan all along has been to extend the patio north along the sidewalk
with an entirely new structure that will offer a lot to our customers
and our neighbors. The plans are looking very good right now, and I
think when they are made public it will go a long way in drying some
never heard this place referred to as the "Atwater House"
before this last month. Have you?
is an insult to my family and me. Nobody ever called it that up until
two weeks ago. Atwater sold his house decades ago. The Atwaters haven
't been paying the property tax, insurance, and maintenance bills on
the house. It's textbook propaganda. This is the Georgiadis House--for
now. I commend these groups' organizational skills, and I wish I had
the time to do the same sorts of things they do, like meetings, protests,
fliers and petitions. Unfortunately, we're busy running a restaurant,
one that that I think has contributed a lot to the character of the
are you guys planning on responding to all the hubbub?
don't really need to, but we have done a few interviews like this. Mostly
it has been others-TV, radio-wanting our response. To those who are
so in love with this old structure we have offered the house for free,
with a $15,000 bonus to move it to another lot.
aspect I think a lot of people are missing is how bad the house is on
the inside. Way back before we bought it the house was gutted. It is
now three units, two commercial downstairs and one three-bedroom apartment
upstairs. The whole thing is modern inside. No leaded glass, ornate
woodwork, or antique fireplaces here. I actually lived there myself
for four years. I have a lot of fond memories there and I will be a
little sad myself to see it go. It was at one time a nice house, but
it hasn't been for quite sometime. Nothing lasts forever.
that house was there, someone had to knock down trees. Why didn't we
protest that? This is progress in a city that needs it bad. If we adhered
to preservation logic, we would all still be living in caves. We love
our block and have a huge interest in keeping it alive.
the "boycott" affected business?
at all. This past month has been great for us. We are really looking
forward to the increased seating; we hate to make people wait to sit.
a vacant building more of an eyesore than even a parking lot would be?
would think so. Many have asked why we don't rent it out anymore. Well,
it's just not that big inside. I don't see how a person with the drive
to open his or her own business would want to do it there; It's a shoebox.
If you don't believe me, come by and I'll show you. Also we are restaurant
people, not landlord people. We're just not interested in doing that
anymore. We are going to put the land to better use. We'll gain maybe
7-8 new parking spots from this, but they won't be visible from the
street, and will mostly come from diverting the current driveway, not
from the demolition.
a bigger restaurant overtax the kitchen?
expanded our kitchen last summer in anticipation of this. We did it
by shrinking our parking lot. People complained about that, too.