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New: Downtown Lunch Spot –The Salty Chefs is Serving Up Food with Attitude & Local Ingredients

Food & Drink, Food & Drink News

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Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Published on September 7, 2022
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs

When someone calls a restaurant ‘The Salty Chefs‘ — you’re going to expect two things: seasoning and attitude.

That’s exactly what you get with a new lunch spot on Genesee Street in Downtown Buffalo. Married couple David and Donna Viertel recently opened The Salty Chefs after a personal and culinary odyssey. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch items that can be described as pan-American, with influences stretching from Maine to California.

With classical training from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and decades of experience, the Viertel’s are capable and confident.

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The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs

“When we tell some people about some of our unique soups, they’ll make a weird face,” says Donna. “So I said to one person, ‘Instead of making a face, you can taste any of the soups and see if you like one.’ They had a taste of one and said, ‘You’re right this is so yummy!’”

In a recent phone interview with the couple, I listened to them recount their journey, from meeting and getting married in culinary school; to owning, operating and working in a number of restaurants — some in fine dining and some in fast food. They have a tendency to finish each other’s sentences and often mention their love of sports. In fact, the couple said they moved back to Buffalo in 2020 to be closer to elite-level hockey (and the Buffalo Sabres).

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The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs

You can also see their love of Buffalo sports on the menu in the form of their house-made Circle the Wagons burger ($16.50) — served with hand-cut fries and topped with chipotle mayo, avocado and smoked gouda.

As if I didn’t know, Donna asked me: “You know why it’s called Circle the Wagons right? NOBODY CIRCLES THE WAGONS LIKE THE BUFFALO BILLS!!”

Attitude aside, The Salty Chefs are focused on delivering value for dollar. The current menu includes seven different burgers, four salads, four soups, three breakfast items and two desserts—including Donna’s signature Hockey Puck Fudge Brownie for Two ($9).

Using some classic technique and local ingredients, including beef from Western New York, the restaurant is dedicated to a simple, humble goal, giving people a bit of an escape from their workday.

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The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs
The Salty Chefs / Photo courtesy of The Salty Chefs

“After 2003, when we gave up running a restaurant, we were working for other people, and we were getting so frustrated,” David explains. “Because we didn’t feel like anybody had the love of food, just making people happy with food.

“We make things quickly, but we’re also trying to send people on a culinary journey with different flavors and textures. So in the short period of time that they have to eat, we want them to have a full experience. Maybe help them forget about work or whatever for half an hour.”

Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Monday to Friday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday CLOSED

The Salty Chefs

111 Genesee Street Buffalo, NY 14203 • $$

American

Buffalo

Casual Table Service

The Salty Chefs mission is food that is simple. Our main goal is to always serve amazing food achieved by artistically blending together clean, natural, ...

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/brett-smith/" target="_self">Brett Llenos Smith</a>

Written by Brett Llenos Smith

Brett Llenos Smith is a freelance writer based in Buffalo’s Allentown neighborhood who has been covering local food and culture for Step Out Buffalo over the past six years. As someone with a multi-ethnic background, he has a passion for exploring and understand the many diverse corners of Western New York.
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