New: Compass Run Digs into Southern Roots Offering Comfort Classics, Fresh Seafood, & Scratch-Made Cocktails

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News


Written by Morgan Culhane

Published on May 4, 2022
Compass Run / Photo x Morgan Culhane for Step Out Buffalo

Compass Run is the latest venture for the couple behind Dobutsu and Toutant.

This new casual restaurant concept by James and Connie Roberts takes the place of the former Dobutsu at 500 Seneca Street, but with a brand-new focus. 

James and Connie plan to bring the best of both restaurants to Compass Run.  

“Hopefully I’m gonna be able to meld what we learned with Dobutsu into what we know at Toutant and come up with this place that’s a complementary version of both,” James says. 


Compass Run / Photo courtesy of Compass Run
Compass Run / Photo courtesy of Compass Run
Compass Run / Photo courtesy of Compass Run

The menu at Compass Run is influenced by a love of fresh seafood and Southern comfort foods. 

Just like Toutant, there’s a focus on made-from-scratch dishes and just like Dobutsu they will have fresh daily seafood. 

They have a shellfish raw bar with oysters, shrimp, and lobster, coastal fish, and seasonal seafood preparations. 

The regional Southern theme is what makes Compass Run different. 

You’ll find Southern specialties like American Country hams, chicken fried steaks, smashburgers, crispy fried chicken sandwiches, and homemade pies on the menu.

Plus, they have plenty of small plates that are made for sharing including pork belly burnt ends, hot boudin balls, mac and cheese, and warm buttered buns. 


Compass Run / Photo courtesy of Compass Run
Compass Run / Photo x Morgan Culhane for Step Out Buffalo
Compass Run / Photo x Morgan Culhane for Step Out Buffalo
Compass Run / Photo courtesy of Compass Run

Much like the food, the cocktail program here will feature made-from-scratch cocktails, using quality ingredients and incredible techniques. 

You can expect simple southern classics, bourbon and rye whiskeys, and custom seasonal cocktails. Plus, they have a curated wine list. 

James grew up loving and cooking many of these dishes. In fact, the name, Compass Run, is actually a tribute to his Southern roots. 

When James was growing up, he learned how to trust a compass when he was fishing, shrimping, and hunting in the Louisiana Delta and marshes. 

These simple roots inspired the new concept that is Compass Run. 

“The transition for us from getting out of Dobutsu and into Compass Run has been about really revisiting simple dishes and flavors just done exceptionally well with high levels of discipline and technique,” James says. 

James and Connie both believe in consistently overdelivering on hospitality and creating a welcoming atmosphere. 

“Those are our strengths in this industry. So we’re just bringing that over here in the same spirit, but with a complementary menu that still features a ton of seafood and things that we have built in the Dobutsu relationships over the last four or five years,” James says. 


Compass Run / Photo courtesy of Compass Run
Compass Run / Photo x Morgan Culhane for Step out Buffalo
Compass Run / Photo courtesy of Compass Run

The new space also creates new opportunities you just can’t find at Toutant. 

“There were so many things we wanted to do over there (at Toutant) that we just couldn’t do,” he explains. 

When you compare the space at Compass Run versus Toutant, the seating capacity may be the same, but there’s some key differences. 

“Capacity wise, it’s exactly the same. There’s 120 there, 120 here, but we have the capabilities that Downtown establishments don’t have,” says James. 

The location at 500 Seneca Street comes with a list of amenities you won’t find Downtown, including free off-street parking, handicap accessibility, and even a 25-seat patio overlooking the courtyard. The layout of the space can easily accommodate larger groups and there’s seating at the cocktail bar and raw bar. 

Compass Run will be open for drinks and dinner every night starting on May 4, 2022. Reservations are available and walk-ins are welcome on a first come, first serve basis.

Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Wednesday – Saturday 5pm – 10pm

Compass Run

500 Seneca Street Suite 119 Buffalo, NY 14204 • $$



Casual Table Service

Compass Run, located on 500 Seneca, is taking place of Dobutsu. Under the same ownership, Compass Run focuses on southern comfort food as well as southern ...


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Written by <a href="" target="_self">Morgan Culhane</a>

Written by Morgan Culhane

Morgan is a storyteller with a passion for exploring Buffalo's food and beverage scene. She enjoys drinking craft beer so much that she started a business dedicated to promoting this industry. As the co-founder of Content on Draft, she develops social media marketing strategies for craft beverage companies in Buffalo and beyond… and she loves it!
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