Development in the eastern suburbs revolves around one man: Russell Salvatore

By James Fink
Buffalo Business First

Russell Salvatore (Buffalo Business First file photo)

Of all factors that led Iskalo Development Co. to pinpoint a Transit Road site for the $32.3 million Big Ditch Brewing Co. Cheektowaga production center, the biggest was across the street on the Lancaster side of the road.

That would be Russell's Steaks, Chops & More, which opened in 2008, by veteran restaurateur Russell Salvatore.

"I love it when I see new things open around here," Salvatore said. "Am I the reason? I don't think so."

Salvatore opened Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in 1967. The Garden Place hotel followed in 1998 and Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More in 2008.

"What Russell did was create a huge development spinoff," said Paul Leone, economic development consultant for Lancaster, Clarence and Amherst. "The hotels, restaurants and stores are there because his place is such a magnet."

Both Salvatore's, now owned and run by Joseph Salvatore, Russell's son, and Russell's Steaks, Chops & More, are destinations for special dinners and hotel getaway weekends.

"People come to Buffalo because of Russell and that has created its own ripple effect," said Patrick Kaler, Visit Buffalo Niagara president and CEO. "Canadians, people from elsewhere in the state and places like Pennsylvania and Ohio come here because of the Salvatore name. It is a great marketing tool."

Other developments near the Russell restaurant:

• Iskalo Development bought a vacant hotel at 6700 Transit Road for the Big Ditch beer production, restaurant and event center. Work on the $32.3 million, 105,315-square-foot complex just started; it will open in late 2021.

"I think we will complement each other," said David Chiazza, Iskalo executive vice president. "Russell's is certainly a marker for us, if people ask where we are located."

• With a generous donation from Salvatore, Trocaire College Extension Center, now known as the Russell J. Salvatore School of Hospitality and Business, opened in 2008. In 2019, Trocaire shifted some technology courses to the building.

• Two years ago, Home2Suites and Spring Hill Suites opened adjacent to Russell's.

"They wanted to be next to his business," Leone said.

• King Crab Juicy Seafood, a national chain, opened this summer in a former Friendly's restaurant in front of Russell's property.

• A franchised Anchor Bar opened in early 2019 on the site of a former Bob Evans restaurant.

This article originally appeared in Buffalo Business First.