By Jennifer Pauly
Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce President
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce will honor businesses and individuals at its annual Chamber Awards Gala from 6-11 p.m. Friday, April 28, at The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls.
The annual awards gala begins with a cocktail hour and hors d'oeuvres, followed by a sit-down dinner and awards program. A silent auction will take place throughout the evening. Tickets are available through the Chamber of Commerce office (895 Center St., Lewiston) at $100 per person (valet parking included).
Lewiston Business of the Year - Apple Granny Restaurant
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce Apple Granny Restaurant as the 2017 Lewiston Business of the Year. The Lewiston Advisory Committee, comprised of Lewiston businesses and organizations, assists the chamber in providing a business honoree, voted upon from member nominations, that has showed dedication and service to the Lewiston community.
Apple Granny Restaurant is a favorite all-American dining destination for both locals and visitors to the area, serving casual quality food at its finest (and with great prices).
The late John Roberts opened Apple Granny Restaurant at 433 Center St., in the heart of the Village of Lewiston, in 1975. Two years ago, the opportunity came around for Chuck Barber, a vice president with Heritage Christian Services, and Michael Burke, a fire captain with the City of Niagara Falls, to partner and purchase the business. They looked at the purchase as a great opportunity to be a part of the community where they both live and raise their families.
The building itself used to be Helm's General Store - there is still a wheel pulley located on the second floor that used to be used to bring in dry goods. At one point Apple Granny was a disco club. Chuck and Michael still have the original disco ball.
Chuck and Michael have made their purchase of the business almost seamless, keeping the employees and recipes the same. On any given day, you will see either of them welcoming customers alongside the staff.
They have over 30 employees, many of them having been there for 10-15 years, with the three main cooks working there for more than 15 years. Two years ago New York state implemented the largest wage increase on record for servers, just after Chuck and Michael took over. They worked through the rising cost of labor, knowing that the staff was an important part to the success of Apple Granny Restaurant.
The popular fish fry has not changed and is the most popular dinner served. Customers thanked Chuck and Michael for not changing anything when they took over. With a loyal customer base, keeping the transition smooth was a priority. Serving the same great food is the focus, but growing the customer base focusing on families and a new demographic is also a goal this year. During the winter months, the seasonal "Kids Eat Free" promotion on Tuesday evenings has been a great way for Apple Granny to bring in the next generation of customers.
Word of mouth, community involvement and social media have been the mix of marketing that has worked for Apple Granny Restaurant. Having a dining establishment in the same place for 42 years, with food made from scratch and good service, leads to positive recommendations.
Social media has given the restaurant a platform to quickly and effectively advertise specials, listen and respond to customers and communicate with a wider audience. The Historical Association of Lewiston distributes the placemats placed on every table at Apple Granny Restaurant, full of historical facts and information. The placemat is so popular; some people come in just to pick up the latest edition.
Chuck and Michael are also very involved in many organizations including the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, Lewiston Kiwanis, Lewiston Porter Youth Football League, Lewiston Family Ice Rink, local church parishes, HANCI Home Care, and Niagara Falls Firefighters Toy Fund, to name a few. Apple Granny Restaurant has also participated in many of the Center Street festivals as a vendor.
Chuck and Michael both agree that Lewiston is a great place to live and play, and everything is connected with the village. There is always plenty of action, and the people are loyal. It is a great combination to grow a business. Chuck spent 20 years in the corporate sector and now enjoys his time as co-owner of Apple Granny. His wife Shannon is often seen tending bar. Chuck and Shannon have three children, Mathew, Zachary and Brooke, and live in the Town of Lewiston.
Michael continues his work, entering his 19th year in the City of Niagara Falls Fire Department. His time is spent between serving as fire captain and co-owner of the restaurant. Michael and Suzanne have two children, Ethan and Molly, and live in the Village of Lewiston.
Apple Granny Restaurant is open six days a week, closed on Mondays. The menu and hours of operation can be found on its website - www.applegranny.com. Stop by and meet Chuck and Michael and see why this business continues to be one of the most popular restaurants in the village.
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and the Lewiston Advisory Committee proudly congratulate Apple Granny Restaurant, the 2017 Lewiston Business of the Year.