Takeout soul restaurant Ike and BG’s has been getting rave reviews since the late 90s, and now, the restaurant is kicking off a massive expansion plan that includes a new location one block from city hall in downtown Buffalo.
The original location sits in the gritty Genesee Moselle neighborhood, and likely because of that, it didn’t develop a big fanbase beyond the East Side of Buffalo. But good food sells itself, as they say, so when owner Steven Butler bought a food truck and took his soul food and barbecue flavors to the people, the word started to spread.
“We were coming down to Larkin Square throughout the summer and I saw how they were receiving us,” he said. “Every time we pulled up, people would just flock to our truck.
“I think it just allowed people that would never visit our Genesee location to actually get a taste of our food,” he added. “It was a way for us to come to them.”
So what’s the secret to his success? Butler said years of practice have helped him put out good food, day after day and week after week. He started working at Ike and BG’s when he was a teenager. Back then, the restaurant was owned by his godparents, Isaac and Betty Gray. In 2017, he acquired Ike and BG’s from them.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time so I wouldn’t consider it hard to maintain quality,” Butler said. “For somebody new to the game, then yeah, they might. This is my passion so it comes kind of naturally to me at this point.”
Butler’s days are long. He fires up the grill around 8:30 a.m. and works at the restaurant all day. You can taste that dedication in the food. While there are a number of popular hits on the menu, the barbecue ribs ($18 half slab, $33 full slab) are the restaurant’s hottest item.
“In this area, there’s a lack of barbecue ribs actually being done on a charcoal grill,” Butler said. “So of course, we run through a lot of those.”
After taking over the restaurant, Butler made tweaks to the menu by featuring fried chicken ($18) and fried haddock ($17). He added fried catfish ($17) to the menu with the new location.
The new restaurant is just the first step. At the downtown location’s ribbon cutting ceremony in mid-October, Butler announced a $4 million multi-use development project for the adjoining lots around the original Ike and BG’s location. The project will considerably expand the restaurant by adding a sit-down dining space and banquet hall.
Hours at time of publishing (Subject to change): Tuesday to Saturday 12 p.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.
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