186 Allen Street,
by NANCY J. PARISI
DINO SCOURAS HAS CO-OWNED AND OPERATED Towne Restaurant with siblings Paul Scouras and Eleni Konstantopoulos since
1989. The restaurant, right on the corner of Allen Street and Elmwood
Avenue, is a nonstop people-watching parade, inside and outside. "A
Buffalo staple since 1972" is printed at the top of every menu.
And we just recently built a bar in the
back of the restaurant. I started building it two months ago, and finished it
last week. It's a service bar and more
for groups. It will be open as late as
the restaurant– 3 a.m. on weekends.
And we changed our closing times: in
March of 2016, we had a gang fight in
the restaurant at 4: 30 a.m. We would
like to make a larger patio outside
on Allen Street but are waiting to see
what changes the city makes to the
street and sidewalks; we will be losing one foot of sidewalk on each side
of the street. Another big change for us
has been the building up of the medical corridor; and then there will be
another 8,000 people coming when
the University at Buffalo Medical Campus opens.
WHAT IS YOUR MENU'S BEST SELLER?
Chicken souvlaki, by far. The next
closest thing is beef souvlaki, and after
that is pasta. We sell a lot of pasta dishes. The restaurant is not really just a
Greek restaurant: it started as a hotdog stand, became a diner, and then
through the years we had family members and friends come through and
introduce dishes that were added to
the menu. Back in 1974, a friend of my
father's came up with the beef souvlaki recipe, and then, in 1983, a friend
of the family came up with the chicken
souvlaki—these are people who came
over from Greece.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE
HISTORY OF GREEK CUISINE?
The Greek dishes on our menu are
totally Americanized, but pastisio and
moussaka are closest to being authentic; they're made daily in-house by my
brother-in-law. Fresh is best. The traditional dishes depend on the region
of Greece that you are from, just like
Please our customers.
ARE YOU FROM BUFFALO?
Yes, I grew up in Kenmore.
WHEN DID TOWNE RESTAURANT OPEN AND
WHAT IS ITS BACK STORY?
My father George and uncle Peter
started Towne Red Hots in 1972, a
hotdog stand serving red hots (there
are several regional versions of dogs
with this name throughout the United States, but the Buffalo version is a
grilled hotdog covered with a generous topping of beef chili and a sliver of
bright yellow mustard) at this corner
here, before we expanded. They began
making souvlaki in 1974, and then
they had lines out the door. It was the
first restaurant in Buffalo to have souvlaki. Souvlaki was strictly beef in the
beginning; chicken souvlaki came in
HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED HERE?
I started working here when I was
eleven; back then I was farting around
in the kitchen, peeling potatoes was
one of my jobs. Our whole family got
sucked into working at the restaurant
in the late seventies and early eighties. There was a third, silent partner
who was bought out in 2000 and, after
that, we consolidated, selling the other
locations—at one point we owned four
Towne restaurants. One was where
Kenmore Village Restaurant is on Military, one was where Family Tree is in
Amherst on Bailey, and the other was
in the Lawley Building on Delaware.
WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU MADE TO
TOWNE SINCE YOU BECAME ITS OWNER?
Mostly menu changes, in the food
specials. We have Sunday brunch, a
buffet, that is $12.95—it's all-you-can-
eat and comes with a juice or coffee.