NEWFANE—Sometimes you can’t win for losing.
Mike Greco, who owns and runs Milbrook Tile and Remodeling in Jamaica, was remodeling bathrooms at the River Bend Lodge in Newfane on Route 30 awhile ago when he learned the restaurant next door was out of business.
So he contacted the owner, Newfane resident Nicholas Mercede, who owns both establishments, and made arrangements and, thus, Bootsy’s Grille was born in early July.
“Bootsy” is his father’s nickname. “I thought it was catchy,” Greco said.
Soon after Bootsy’s opened, one of those tall, forever telescoping balloons, favored by car dealerships, appeared near the driveway entrance to the restaurant.
And soon after that, across the road, a crudely painted sign went up. “LOOK AT STUPID,” the sign said, leaving the impression that the business owner must be a marketing savant.
A wry observer said he thought it was the name of the band. Actually, though, the sign is the work of the disgruntled neighbor.
Ray Clark, a retiree who bought his Newfane house two years ago, reports that the motor operating the balloon interferes with his hearing aid and drives him nuts.
“The thing vibrates,” he said, “and it degrades the place.”
Clark said he and his wife Mary “eat out all the time, up and down the East Coast, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Soon after the collapsing balloon appeared, Clark said he talked to someone he thought was the owner of Bootsy’s who told him he would take care of it.
The man he spoke to, not Bootsy’s owner but an employee who no longer works there, also told him that property owner Mercede was the source of the device, now called the “yellow man” by Greco and staff. This is confirmed by Greco, who said Mercede did give him the yellow man, which he operates when he’s open.
In deference to his neighbor, whom he has not actually spoken with, Clark said Greco takes it down by 7 p.m.
Bootsy’s is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. until closing, which varies, and Saturday and Sunday from noon until closing. The restaurant is closed on Wednesdays.
Restaurants at the site have been an on and off success. Recently, the site had been closed for more than a year after another unsuccessful attempt. Before that, however, it was open and run for five years by one owner, Greco said.
Rumored to be expensive to rent, Greco said he’d made a good arrangement with Mercede.
Bootsy’s is a homey, strip-steak-and-baked-haddock kind of restaurant. The menu also features certain popular Italian-type favorites like linguini and meatballs ($11.95), chicken parmesan ($15.95) and shrimp scampi ($16.95).
Other choices include fresh slow roasted turkey ($12.95), grilled swordfish ($17.95) and a variety of complex sandwiches and salads and desserts, including a “Snickers Pie.”
The appetizers include a fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil plate with a “balsamic spritz,” a panoply of wings, which can be “served in Buffalo, hot and sour or teriyaki sauce” and “Mike’s Award Winning Chili,” which won the chili cook-off at Jamaica’s Old Home Days two years running. A hot-wing eating contest, a 10- or so-minute gorging event, places the winner’s name on the “wall of flame.”
The large and comfy dining room seats about 44 and the bar, with three television sets, seats between 10 and 15. A pool table and some chairs are out on the back porch where customers can smoke. Space heaters will be used there in the winter. There is live “acoustic” music weekends.
If good humor, enthusiasm and a willingness to engage the local and tourist populations count, Bootsy’s has a bright future.
Greco is a Connecticut native who is now a Newfane resident. He more or less shares custody of his four children with his former wife, who lives in the second home they bought in Jamaica about five years ago after years of skiing in the state.
“I’ve been around cooking for a long time,” Greco explained. “I use some of my family’s recipes and a brother is a chef in Portsmouth, N.H. I’ve been asking around [about what locals want] and I already offer certain specials, especially on weekends for football. We were jammed yesterday and I sold a ton of chicken parm. Everything here is fresh and made in-house. I make my own tomato sauce and I make a New York-style thin-crust pizza and make the crust myself.”
Greco says he wants to expand even more into the community. “I believe 100 percent I will make it,” he said.