Hospitality icon Russell J. Salvatore celebrated his 90th birthday Sunday, April 16, with a spectacular black-tie gala with a “Black and Gold” theme at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
Ten years after his lavish and memorable 80th event, Salvatore's 90th was said to be one of the biggest parties ever staged in Western New York – celebrating the life and legacy of this hospitality icon.
Salvatore is owner of the acclaimed Russell's Steaks, Chops, and More as well as Salvatore's Grand Hotel in Williamsville. He is known for his immense generosity to countless charities as a leading philanthropist, donating close to $10 million to worthy causes over the years.
Dignitaries in attendance included Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and New York State Sen, Tim Kennedy. They joined hundreds of area business and community leaders, media personalities, VIPs, and friends and family of Salvatore.
Russell J. Salvatore (Submitted photos)
The party featured a culinary exhibition of fine foods, including a raw seafood bar, mountains of shrimp served on ice carvings, meat-carving stations, drinks, elegant desserts and cake.
Star-studded entertainment took the stage while “the largest dance floor outside of New York City” was in place for everyone to party the night away.
John Di Sciullo from WBBZ-TV, “Your Hometown MeTV Station” and co-host of the 80th party, returned to host the 90th party celebration, welcoming special guests, introduce inspiring videos of Russell's life and legacy, and leading all in attendance in singing happy birthday to Salvatore.
A child of immigrant parents, Salvatore started in the restaurant business at his father's East Delevan Avenue location in the 1930s. He served in the Army in the 1950s. In 1967, Salvatore sold his home and purchased a small pizza business that would later become Salvatore's Italian Garden's – for just $40,000. After leaving that business at age 75, Salvatore decided he was not done, and opened Russell's Steaks, Chops, and More, as well as Salvatore's Grand Hotel, in 2008. Russell's has been honored as a top steakhouse in New York state.
Through the years, Salvatore has given back to the community in so many ways. He has purchased tens of thousands of Buffalo Bills tickets so blacked-out games could air on television, and those less-fortunate could attend. This list of hometown organizations Salvatore has touched are almost too many to count. They include the Diocese of Buffalo; Trocaire College School of Hospitality; Erie County Medical Center “Free to Patient” flat-screen TVs, orthopedic rehabilitation floor and atrium lobby; Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Oishei Children's Hospital, Sister's Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital “Free to Patient” flat-screen TVs; Red Cross mobile blood drive vans; Kevin Guest House Russell J. Salvatore Hospitality House & Bone Marrow Rehabilitation Center; Buffalo State College Russell J. Salvatore Demonstration Kitchen; 10 veterans transportation vans; Brothers of Mercy Rehabilitation Center; Shea's Center for the Performing Arts; Lancaster year-round indoor baseball facility; Boys and Girls Clubs Lancaster rebuild after a fire; Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center; UB Medical new student center at downtown campus; Gospa House respite home for unwed mothers; Niagara University Russell J. Salvatore Student Commons construction; Mathewson McCarthy Baseball Field batting house and field restoration; and Miracle League of Grand Island special needs baseball diamond and park.
However, Salvatore points to the “Patriot's and Heroes Park” outside his Transit Road location as what he hopes will be his lasting legacy. The park includes works created by longtime artist and friend Don Parrino that remember the 9/11 tragedy; the crash of Flight 3407; and recognize the brave men and women who proudly served this country, including those who received the Purple Heart.
Russell's Steaks, Chops, & More, and Russell's Grand Hotel, are located at 6675 Transit Road, Williamsville. For more information, call 716- 636-4900, visit www.salvatoresgrand.com, or find on Facebook and Twitter (@RussellsSteak).