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New leadership preparing for summer at Buffalo Launch Club

by jmaloni
Sat, May 16th 2015 04:15 pm
The Buffalo Launch Club
The Buffalo Launch Club

By Joshua Maloni

Managing Editor

The 112-year-old Buffalo Launch Club is headed in a new direction - and with a new executive team.

At the end of last summer, new General Manager Timothy L. Pike joined the BLC after working at the Springville and Wanakah country clubs. Soon after, Catherine Trzaska (banquet manager) and William Smith (executive chef) were brought on board. She graduated from Niagara University's prestigious hospitality program before serving at the Maidstone Country Club on Long Island, while he was a chef at the Niagara Frontier Country Club.

"I think we all bring a fresh take to service standards and what we expect out of the property as a whole; and the employees, in terms of professionalism, efficiency, quality of service," Trzaska said.

"There's a lot of new thoughts and a lot of new energy brought to the club right now," Pike said.

The BLC offers members and guests a full dining room, a banquet room with ample space for dinner and dancing, and a shopping list of amenities.

The Buffalo Launch Club 

The Buffalo Launch Club

The Buffalo Launch Club 

"First off, if you look here at our wonderful dining room area, it overlooks the Niagara River. It overlooks our basin," Pike said. "It's unique. If you look to your left, you see the Grand Island bridges. You look to the right, you see the skyline of the City of Buffalo.

"On our campus here, we have a lighthouse, which is unique. ... Between the tennis courts, the swimming pool, the pavilion area, the clubhouse - we have a lot of great and unique opportunities here that other clubs don't have."

And who can overlook the view?

"Our location is our prime advantage," Trzaska said. "There aren't many other waterfront properties. The room itself - windows on three sides. When it's sunny out ... it's really beautiful - especially in the middle of the summer. When the basin's full, and the whole property is active, it makes it a really exciting environment."

"This is a great location; it's a very unique opportunity," Pike said. "It's my first venture into boating clubs. If you just look outside, you see the 90-slip basin with all the powerboats in there. It's the oldest powerboating club in the United States. It's got a unique history on the Niagara Frontier - on the Niagara River.

"Just the social aspect of the members and the interaction between the community that they are involved in - it differs from a golf course. You come to the golf course, it's more of a day playing golf, and then food is an afterthought. You know, here, food, drinks and camaraderie are kind of intermixed all the time."

The Buffalo Launch Club 

The Buffalo Launch Club

Pike said Smith has brought a Southwest-Caribbean flavor to the menu, which also includes club favorites such as burgers, chicken wings and fingers, wraps and sandwiches.

"I'm a little biased, but I think the food is excellent," Pike said.

"We want you to come here three times a week and find something on the menu all the time for you to enjoy," he added.

Trzaska said Smith is an ideal chef for wedding receptions.

"He brings a fresh new take on everything," she said. "He's very customer-oriented. He develops his menu based on what the members here want, and based on what our clients want for weddings.

"We obviously have our set banquet menu and everything, but we tell people we can easily customize it for you. If there's something you don't see, if you want to tweak something a little bit, the chef is more than willing to sit down with people (and) customize the menu for them, so that it's actually a unique experience instead of going and getting your typical banquet food like you do at a lot of places."

The BLC is preparing to host its 112th flag-raising ceremony Sunday for current members, and then welcome prospective new members to an open house May 23.

The club is currently open Tuesday through Saturday, with Sunday hours resuming after Labor Day.

Summer events of note include the "Smoke on the River" charity fundraiser for disabled boaters; and "Gilligan's Island" and "Rockin' on the River" themed activities.

"I'm excited to see what summer is at the Buffalo Launch Club," Pike said.

"I'm looking forward to some of our marquee events that I did not get the opportunity to see last year," he added.

The Buffalo Launch Club 

The Buffalo Launch Club

Additionally, "One of the things that we do here is we have very active kids programming in the summer," Pike said. "At the end of the month - Memorial Day weekend - we're doing actually a family day for our members and their children and grandchildren. We have bounce houses, tug-of-wars; we're going to be doing balloon tosses; we're going to have an interactive band that's going to be coming and playing. Then, we do swim lessons over the summer. Tennis lessons."

"We're trying to encompass the whole family into belonging and joining the club," he added.

The BLC welcomes Islanders to visit its website (http://buffalolaunchclub.com) for more information, or to contact Pike or Trzaska directly to book an event.

"The Launch Club has been in the past and will be in the future very (community-oriented)," Pike said. "We actively support our volunteer fire company. They've been here. They've been invited to do a walk-through to continue on with their ongoing training. We're currently scheduling that.

"We host the Lions Club; Zonta Club; our Coast Guard auxiliary, they have their meetings here at the club. We try to be as community-minded as we can.

"We understand that we're Grand Island and you should be part of the community that you work in."

The Buffalo Launch Club is located at 503 East River Road. Call 716-773-7629.

The Buffalo Launch Club 

The Buffalo Launch Club

The Buffalo Launch Club

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