by Jennifer Pauly, Melissa Morinello and Margaret Toohey
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce will honor 10 businesses and individuals at its annual Chamber Awards Gala Friday, May 16, at the Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston.
Lewiston Business of the Year
Water Street Landing
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce Water Street Landing as the recipient of the Lewiston Business of the Year Award. The Lewiston Advisory Committee, comprised of Lewiston businesses and organizations, assists the chamber in providing a business honoree voted upon from member nominations - one that has showed dedication and service to the Lewiston community. Water Street Landing has created a unique destination and dining experience on the Niagara River that many have come to enjoy.
Owner Jon DiBernardo has created a place where there is something for everyone. With "a view to dine for," Water Street Landing offers three distinct experiences: fine dining for quiet evenings, the River SideBar and The Patio, which are perfect for casual food and cocktails. All experiences offer a view of the river from every seat.
DiBernardo likes to say he "accidentally" stepped into the restaurant business. DiBernardo is a graduate of Buffalo State College, or as he calls it "The Harvard on the Scajaquauda," and was working in advertising and graphic design. In 1994, as he was dropping off menus to a client who owned a restaurant, the bartender didn't show up and DiBernardo took the opportunity to jump behind the bar. That experience was his start in the food and beverage industry. He became friends with the owners and saw the potential of working in an industry where you could have a good time, show guests a good time and also be successful in Western New York.
As one of the original owners of Le Metro on Elmwood and at the Walker Center, DiBernardo later reinvented Le Metro on Elmwood into Mode. When the opportunity arose to start a restaurant in the old Riverside Inn building in 2004, he created a place where customers could have a variety of dining options from casual to fine dining.
The entrepreneurial bug never rests in DiBernardo and, in 2010, he opened a popular spot on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. "The Delaware" as it is known, was once the Carvel ice cream stand near the old Premier Liquors. It is worth a trip to see what he has done with this building, as it is spectacular in and out.
2014 marks the 10-year anniversary of Water Street Landing. DiBernardo has made many improvements over the years to create an even better experience for the guests, all while protecting and preserving the history of the 150-year-old building. Last summer, a complete expansion and renovation of the patio was executed to create a lounge area for guests to come and enjoy a beverage and a bite to eat while experiencing the picturesque view of the lower Niagara River. As a seasonal business, Water Street Landing employs about 40 staff members during the fall/winter to more than 100 staff members during the spring/summer season. DiBernardo and his staff are always working on creating new experiences for their customers, such as specialty dinners and events.
Technology has given DiBernardo the opportunity to run his businesses more efficiently and reach customers all over Western New York and beyond. With the use of social media exploding over the last few years, he finds it extremely important to keep up with the latest trends via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Customers can check the Facebook page daily for updates on special events and promotions at the establishment.
DiBernardo was the founder of the "Historic Lewiston Cocktail Festival." It started as an evening event in 2013 where attendees could come and celebrate the history of the cocktail while tasting different mixology creations at Lewiston restaurant and bar establishments. He saw an opportunity to get people out of their homes during a time of year when the weather isn't exactly ideal in early March. This festival has now become an annual two-day event, and he looks forward to seeing it continue to grow. DiBernardo loves being a part of the River Region community and is active with the Lewiston Jazz Festival, Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and the Lewiston Advisory Council and supports many local charitable organizations.
According to DiBernardo, there is no place like Lewiston, where he lives with his wife, Jackie, and two children, Franca and Vena. Jon and Jackie have dedicated their lives to the restaurant and the community in which they live and work. His guests are constantly supportive of his business, and they come because they want to be taken care of, have a good time, and want to see the restaurant succeed.
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, along with the Lewiston Advisory Committee, proudly congratulates Water Street Landing as the 2014 Lewiston Business of the Year.