Updated July 2015
716 Swan St / Larkin Square / Downtown | (716) 248-2216
Kitchen Hours: Tue-Thurs 4:30-10pm, Fri-Sat 4:30-11pm
With the emergence of Canalside and Larkinville as places for outdoor events large and small, “festival culture” has never been bigger in Buffalo and it was only a matter of time before a restaurant was born from this nascent movement.
Born specifically out of Food Truck Tuesdays at Larkinville, the Hydraulic Hearth incorporates everything we’ve come to know from fair-weather festivals around Buffalo: games, local art, local beer and even food trucks (!) That’s right. Instead of seeing Buffalo’s mobile kitchens as a source of competition, the owners of the Hydraulic Hearth see an opportunity for synergy.
Anyone who’s had Lloyds or The Black Market Food Truck knows that getting seating or even comfortable while munching down can be a problem. To solve this, the Hydraulic Hearth is offering up a food truck dock that allows the trucks to serve to patrons with plenty of accessible seating. In exchange, the brick-and mortar restaurant is leveraging the social media reach of the trucks, who rely on Facebook and Twitter to reach out to their followers.
“We definitely see something that would traditionally be viewed as taking away from your bottom line, as exposure – bringing in customers that normally follow someone else,” said Harry Zemsky, proprietor of the Hydraulic Hearth.
In addition to collaborating with WNY food trucks, the Hydraulic Hearth is also going to be offering up other locally-sourced offerings. However, instead of just focusing on locally-sourced raw materials like other farm-to-table establishments – the Hydraulic Hearth will be emphasizing local products, such as beer brewed and coffee roasted right here in the Nickel City.
The local beer will come from Community Beer Works, which is opening a satellite location in the back of the restaurant. Zemsky told us that the collaboration with CBW came about by chance.
“It was really serendipitous,” he said. “I was at the Blue Monk’s anniversary party last year and Ethan Cox and I got to chatting.”
“I really didn’t know him that well, but he mentioned that they were at capacity for brewing and they needed a place to brew more beer,” Zemsky continued. “So the next morning, I just emailed him with the idea to collaborate and said, ‘Hey, how would you feel about this?’”
In addition to CBW beer brewed specifically for the Hydraulic Hearth, the restaurant will also feature local vodka from Lockhouse Distillery and local coffee from Public – the latter being free with any meal purchase.
With all the culinary collabs flying around, it might seem like an afterthought to note that the Hydraulic Hearth menu features brick oven pizzas cooked in an open kitchen. However, a lot of research and thought has clearly gone into these pies. In addition to the usual pizza suspects, the Hydraulic Hearth will also feature a Butternut Squash pie, with maple crema and balsamic craisins, and an Arugala Pesto, with pistachio and Brussels sprouts.
The restaurant is still finishing work on the outdoor elements, but will open for business on Tuesday evening (11/11), serving dinner and drinks to the after-work crowd in Larkinville.
Like any great jazz band, it’s the synergistic aspect of the Hydraulic Hearth that makes it greater than the sum of its parts and while many new establishments are tapping into Buffalo’s blue collar past – the Hydraulic Hearth is an optimistic look into Buffalo’s present and future, where we can see a city that merges familiar faces, local products, local talent and a touch of whimsy to make something completely unique and all its own.