Center Street Update: Major Gather Changes

Fri, October 28, 2022 10:00 a.m.

Work in progress at the second Gallo restaurant

√ Improved toilet block

√ The panel falls, the fences are repaired along the roadway

By Joshua Maloni

Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief

To Lewiston residents traveling on Center Street who have noticed exterior construction at the Gather American Eatery: this is just the beginning.

Gallo-Restaurant owner Michael Hibbard is renovating his popular restaurant, which opened in March 2020.

Outside, “we’re replacing from ground level, up to three feet – everything will be brick,” Hibbard said. “So like a more modern look. And then we repaint the whole exterior and install brand new light fixtures. Just a more modern and updated look.

“All the windows on the outside, they’re open – a bit more like Gallo – so it’s like an indoor/outdoor space,” he said. “It is also a major change. In the summer, it’s going to look and feel totally different.

Inside, “we’re doing more,” Hibbard explained. “There was like a wall that separated the dining room and the bar. We removed this wall. We’re redoing the bar. The bar is going to be totally different. New counters, new facade, new floor. The entire building will have new flooring. Improved painting. It will be more of a bar atmosphere, with small plates.

Despite the ongoing volume of work, Hibbard said he hopes to reopen Gather by Gallo by the end of this year – “But it all depends on the construction,” he said.

Hibbard noted, “We’re ahead of what we thought we would be.”

The restorer received a facade grant from Niagara County. More than that, however, “what changed for us was that we bought the building,” Hibbard said. “Before, we rented it from the previous owner, who was great. I can’t say enough good things about him – he’s been amazing during the pandemic and really helped us. He approached us; asked if we wanted to buy the building; and it was just the right place at the right time, and the numbers worked. So when we decided we could buy the building, that’s when we decided to close and start the renovations.

“It needed updating, and just a bit more modernising, and I feel like changing it to be more of a bar with small plates, I think it needed a updated look.”

In addition to owning Gather (453 Center St.) and Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen (402 Center St.), Hibbard offers a line of pizza doughs and sauces in partnership with “Iron Chef” and Food Network personality Geoffrey Zakarian.

Top and bottom images courtesy of Gallo Restaurants

A large New York State directional sign was removed earlier in the week at the foot of the Niagara Scenic Parkway. (Courtesy of the design committee)

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More renovations along Center Street

• On Monday, the Lewiston Design Committee announced that the large sign near the Niagara Scenic Parkway entrance had been removed by the New York State Department of Transportation. (Read the full story here.)

The committee said the sign, which had stood at the intersection for more than 60 years, was “too large, unnecessary and contrary to the historic character of the village. The removal follows the deconstruction of another large sign, next to the Lewiston Chamber of Commerce office, which was taken down several months ago.

Organizer Lee Simonson said, “We want to thank Mayor Welch for inviting us to join her at a planning meeting at the DOT offices in Buffalo a few years ago. We made our case and the DOT was very cooperative in helping us achieve our goals. There is still a lot of work to do, but we are making significant progress” in removing the signs.

Assemblyman Angelo Morinello and Lewiston Village Mayor Anne Welch at the toilet block at Academy Park.

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• On Thursday, MP Angelo Morinello joined Mayor Anne Welch to review the renovations to the Academy Park washroom facility.

The work included a new roof and new paint.

“New York State recently completed a bike path from Niagara Scenic Parkway, which terminated at Seneca and North Ninth Street in the Village of Lewiston,” Welch said. “Continuing the trail along North Ninth Street through Academy Park will provide restrooms and a bike repair station, and is adjacent to the Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Centre, creating a hub for users of the path. This Academy Park restroom upgrade will accommodate park users and cyclists on the Greenway Trail.

“We are very grateful for the support and assistance of Assemblyman Angelo Morinello in securing $50,000 in funding through the New York State Department of Transportation for the restoration and the renovation of the toilets at Academy Park.”

Fence replacement was moved this week to areas in front of Orange Cat Coffee Co.

• Fox Fence continues to install new white picket fences along Center Street. (Read the full story here.) A month ago, the Lewiston Village Board voted to spend $94,486 on the project, noting that some fenced areas were broken and beyond repair, while others had posts missing.

Welch said, “We don’t have fences anymore. And the ones we have left are so deteriorated.

Residents Tasia Fitzpatrick (member of the Planning and Beautification Commissions) and Susan Hofert (member of the Historic Preservation Commission) are overseeing the fence replacement project.

In September, Fitzpatrick said: “We know that’s part of the charm (of the village). At Christmas, we hang our wreaths. There are fewer places to hang them now, of course, because there’s nothing left to hang them on. They crumble; they cannot be repaired.

Hofert added: “Wherever there was, there will still be. The new fence will extend from the south side of Center Street from Academy Park to the home of the late Bruce Sutherland at 605 Center (except for the metal fence in front of CVS and Rite Aid plazas); and at Stevens & Lewiston Insurance on the north side of the road.

Fitzpatrick said: “(Fox Fence) told me they were confident – not 100%, but confident – that they would have it (completed) by November 12, in time for Christmas this year. “

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