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(716) Food and Sport… What you need to know

HarborCenter's glitzy new  bistro will be opening its doors to the public on Friday

HarborCenter’s glitzy new bistro will be opening its doors to the public on Friday

It’s been a whirlwind week over at HarborCenter, the $172-million privately funded hockey center over at Canalside.

The new destination Tim Hortons Cafe opened for business with lines out the door, a statue of Horton was unveiled across the street. Then the HarborCenter rinks opened last weekend with packed houses for Canisius College and debuts for both the ECC Kats and the Buffalo Junior Sabres. the first of many HarborCenter tournaments packed downtown hotels last weekend, with more to come. Construction on the building continues with the hotel tower being buttoned up for the cold weather ahead, and a huge construction punch list of finishes and enhancements still to be set in place.

So tomorrow, Friday, the next component of HarborCenter opens its doors at 3:00PM, and this one promises to be another event with a “wow” factor. (716) Food and Sport, a 13,000 square foot, 365 seat sports themed restaurant will begin serving the general public for the very first time. According, to HarborCenter president John Koelmel, there won’t be any big ribbon cutting or ballon launching hoopla, just an opening of the doors and a staff ready to wait and welcome and serve.

Koelmel met with the media this morning as crews were still putting finishing touches on the restaurant’s entrance. Drink menus and cloth napkins adorned each of the tables. The restaurant has already welcomed diners throughout the week at private events for sponsors and staff connected with the project through a series of training events. Said Koelmel, “It’s been phenomenal. We’ve served over 1000 people, from friends and family to other vendors and supporters that have been willing to come in and help us test drive. The feedback has been fabulous. First and foremost the facility itself it’s an enjoyable place to be. It’s comfortable. It’s fun. It’s relaxing. It’s high energy. To the food and drink the response has been fantastic. We’re looking to tweak a few things to make what’s very good that much better. It’s coming together very nicely.

Koelmel admitted that owner Terry Pegula has yet to set foot in the now opened HarborCenter, but plans to get his first peek tonight at a private grand opening event. “We’re looking forward to his first walk through this fabulous showcase.

As for particulars for the public, here is some helpful information if you’re planning to visit (716) Food and Sport:

– The doors will open for business on Friday at 3PM and be open until 2AM. Then regular hours of business will be 7 days a week from 11AM until 2AM.

-The restaurant will not be open to the public this Sunday as they will be hosting a private event. So if you were thinking of debuting at the place for your first Sunday of Bills football and the NFL Sunday Ticket, you will have to wait a week.

-Ample parking is available in the HarborCenter parking ramp and will initially be complimentary for 716 patrons, as HarborCenter management tweaks the entire parking situation for its fans using the amenities in the building, as well as on nights when the Sabres play at home in the adjacent First Niagara Center.

-For the first few weeks, seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis and no reservations will be accepted. As the staff becomes acclimated to customer flow and get situated, patrons will be able to make reservations by phone or online.

-The 716 Food and Sport free mobile app is available for download and contains a table reservation component, as well as a wealth of information on the food and drink menu.

-Although there are two entrances, the main one at the corner of Washington and Scott and the second connecting to level 2 of the HarborCenter ramp, initially only the street entrance will be open for public access, again, while management and staff acclimates to the customer flow.

-Work is continuing on the Main Street lobby to the HarborCenter, which is open but a bit hard to find as it is situated behind a stack of jersey barriers lining the Main Street Metrorail tracks. These will remain in place while work on the hotel tower continues.

-No date yet on the opening of a skybridge which will connect the third level of the HarborCenter ramp to the First Niagara Center pavilion.

-As was previously announced, there are no plans for outdoor patio seating on the entry plaza near the main entrance.

-And yes, 716 Food and Sport logoed merchandise and apparel will be sold and available near the main entrance of the restaurant.

  • A-BuffalLover

    I’m astonished that Art Voice’s favorite obstructionist, Art G, didn’t sue to block this building. Clearly the parking lot was historic.

  • UncleBluck

    Privately funded??????