Owner, customers welcome spring and summer fare of custard & beef
Story and Photos by Karen Carr Keefe
Adrian’s Custard & Beef opened for the season on March 16, and is gearing up and staffing up to reopen its dining room soon.
“We are excited to be back,” said owner and CEO ToniMarie Amantia.
On opening day, customers lined up at the takeout windows for the ice cream treats and roast beef sandwiches they had been dreaming about all winter. Staff, masked and distanced, was quickly and efficiently handling the orders and enjoying the pace and social interaction.
Back on April 10, 2019, Adrian’s moved to a gleaming, refurbished building at 2352 Grand Island Blvd., directly across the road from its previous home, a small but very popular summertime eatery.
Little did owner and CEO Toni Amantia know that less than a year later, in March 2020, a pandemic would close their new dining room and those of many restaurants across the nation. The New York State Health Department then allowed restaurants to open by increments, depending on the positivity rate of COVID-19 testing in areas called micro-clusters.
But things are looking up for all New York restaurants, including Adrian’s, now that COVID rates are dropping and a growing percentage of the population is getting vaccinated.
“We look forward to getting completely open again,” Amantia said. “Get our dining room completely open, get our picnic tables out and run how we want to run,” Amantia added. “Open and staffed!”
In 2020, their dining room remained closed, even when partial opening was possible.
“When we first opened in the spring we weren’t allowed – it was takeout, delivery only. And then we opted to not put our picnic tables out,” Amantia said. “We invited our customers to bring lawn chairs and blankets, be with their own family. A lot of people sat in the car.”
That limited dine-in option the state first offered didn’t make business sense for Adrian’s, said Manager Patrick Antonelli, Amantia’s son.
“We were only at 25% capacity. That was only, like, 12 people,” he said. “We didn’t get to take advantage of our new building. So we’re hoping that his year, once we go to 75% or even fully open, that we can take advantage of our new bar and our dining room.”
At the bar, Adrian’s offers local beers on tap and wine. “It’s still a family-friendly atmosphere here, but it’s nice to sit down and eat a beef on weck or a burger and have a beer,” Amantia said.
Adrian's Custard & Beef staffers Vicki Harnden, left, and Kathryn Abbott prepare orders for customers on the first day of the season for the popular restaurant at 2352 Grand Island Blvd.
The hours, once they’re up to full staffing, will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Friday and Saturday; and 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. “We are still hiring, looking for days, nights, weekends. When we’re fully staffed, we’ll be fully open,” Amantia said. “We’re family-owned and -operated. Even our employees we bring in, we tell them they’re part of the family – the big Adrian’s family.”
Amantia bought the restaurant from Kevin and Diane Lipp. The Lipps purchased it from Peter and Adrian Figliotti, who started the business in 1989.
Antonelli, 28, has been working at Adrian’s since his mom purchased it.
“He used to get off the bus after football practice, walk across the street work in the little building, and then we’d go home together. Now, I have four sons, and they have all, at some time, worked in the business, but Patrick has decided this is his life career-dream,” Amantia said.
Mother and son are both proud of the change in venue and the changes in the menu.
Custard, built right into the business name, is undergoing a new twist this year.
“We have our new, flavored custard machine,” Antonelli said. “So in addition to vanilla, chocolate and twist, we are offering eight additional flavors,” he said. “We played with flavored custards a little bit last year. They were so popular, we decided to get a machine specifically for flavored custard.”
Antonelli said there are other menu options that should please a variety of customers, “We do a lot of gluten-free treats, we do a lot of vegan treats, we have keto treats. Our motto is ‘Always fresh and homemade.’ ”
In the decade-and-a half of ownership, there has been much progress in the business. “I think the biggest thing that we’re pleased with is the move that we made, coming from that little building across the street here, our expansion,” Amantia said.
Her son said the customers were behind the move. “The fact that people were supporting us so much that we couldn’t get product out the window fast enough ’cause we didn’t have enough room. But now, over here, it’s enough.” The building was formerly home to the Town Café restaurant, before it closed.
“Grand Island community is phenomenal,” Amantia said. “They really do support their businesses. We get a lot of Little League baseball, house soccer, we get travel,” she said, and even the adult teams. “We used to get a group that rode bikes, and when the bar was open, they would come and sit and get a beer and eat a roast beef after their bike ride. And we love that – we love looking outside and seeing all of the community eating ice cream and talking to their neighbor,” Amantia said. “And especially when the parking lot’s full,” chimed in Antonelli.
“Even during COVID, they were standing apart last year outside, but the community still was together,” Amantia said. “We love being part of that.”
Customers can place an order for pickup or delivery on the website or can call in advance. The website is https://www.adrianscustardandbeef.com/. The phone number is 716-773-9242.