Fri September 20, 2013
Downtown restaurants eager for start of theater season
Up and down Main Street tonight, there will be revelers, bands, and diners all kicking off the theater season. It's also the kickoff of the prime time of year for downtown restaurant operators.
As when it started 32 years ago, Curtain Up! has been forced off the main block of the Theater District by work on the Metro Rail. The big dinner this year has been moved to the 700 Block.
As Theater District Association President Neal Radice watched workers set up the vast tent for the event on the block between Tupper and Goodell, the entire block of Main Street in front of his Alleyway Theatre is bring torn up as the NFTA makes major repairs to the rail track bed.
Radice says it's the same look as in 1981 when the celebration of the opening of the theater season began. Still, Radice says the event is endlessly adaptable.
"Curtain Up! was invented because at that time, the city was closing up Main Street to put in the pedestrian mall and the rapid transit. And so the whole area was covered with mud and debris and construction and orange fences and we had to put down wooden planks to walk into the tent that was up here on the 700 block, right where we're putting it this year," Radice said.
Radice says the revelers will be scattered up and down Main Street with an event on the roof of his Alleyway Theatre at 11 p.m. and the annual crowning of the king and queen at midnight.
Jay Haynes didn't have Perfetto's ready for Curtain Up! last year, but he's ready for this year and the construction out front.
"We do have an entrance on Washington Street. So any of our guests that are coming down to enjoy the celebration down here can park on Washington Street or in the large M&T parking lot directly behind us and actually enter through the back of the restaurant on Washington Street and proceed right through past our beautiful bar and out to the celebration right on Main Street," Haynes said.
Bijou Grill President Bea Militello says the subway construction along Main Street has been a nuisance and she wants to attract customers back.
"Curtain Up this year is more important than ever because we've been undergoing some construction and we're finally starting to see the end of that. People are anxious to come back downtown. We have a great theater season," Militello said.
The city is putting up new signs proclaiming the district with new maps of the neighborhood and bits of history about theater in Buffalo.