Left of Center with Joshua Maloni
Two Lewiston restaurant locations are back in business.
800 Center St., formerly Gallo Loco, has reopened as Hustler’s Tavern. A Facebook page describes the site as a pizzeria and cocktail bar – in fact, it states, “Where the ‘Cocktail’ was invented!”
The eatery is operated by Flip Burger’s Vecchies family. Its menu showcases what’s described as “Shareables,” including a meat and cheese board, roasted cauliflower, fried or charred chicken wings, rosemary truffle fries with garlic aioli, crispy candied brussels, pork belly tacos, panko chicken tenders, and crab cakes with Cajun remoulade; signature pizzas, which range in price from $18 to $27, and come in Detroit or New York style; four different salads – heirloom tomato caprese, beet and goat cheese, crunchy spicy chicken caesar or honey crisp apples and feta green salad; and a trio of sandwiches: Nashville chicken ($16), pork belly Cuban ($18) and Mediterranean cauliflower pita ($21).
Long before it was Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen (the predecessor to Gallo Loco) – or even Dennis Brochey’s Automotive – 800 Center was the site of the original Hustler’s Tavern.
According to the Historical Association of Lewiston, the now-defunct Lewiston Cocktail Festival, James Fenimore Cooper’s book “The Spy,” and local lore, the original Hustler’s Tavern was left standing in 1813, when Lewiston was burned by British troops in retaliation for the U.S. attack on Niagara-on-the-Lake. Other historians dispute this fact, and cite other locations as more probable tavern hangouts.
Nevertheless, a popular Lewiston story has Catherine Hustler serving British soldiers at this bar, inserting a cock’s tail into their cups to identify them to other patrons. … Or maybe it was an unknown U.S. soldier who saw Hustler place the feather in the glass and asked for a “cock tail”?
In May 2022, Ryan, Erin and Daniel opened a Flip Burger next to Hibbard’s Original Frozen Custard on Portage Road. Their original and flagship location, in downtown Niagara Falls, opened in 2015.
Gather by Gallo, an American eatery, has reopened at 453 Center St., following extensive interior and exterior renovations that include new windows, lighting, countertops, flooring, bar and façade.
Owner Michael Hibbard said, “We're trying to create an atmosphere that, I feel, we need in the Village of Lewiston. More of a demographic for my age group – early-30s all the way up through mid-60s. It's just something I feel that we need and we lack in Lewiston.”
Ironically, Hibbard formerly served patrons out of 800 Center before taking over this site and a much-larger venue at the corner of Center and North Fourth streets (the new home of Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen).
When Gather reopens this Friday and Saturday, Hibbard said, “It'll be more of like a lounge-type setting. More bar seating in there. … It'll be more of like a small-plate concept, versus sit-down dining that was there before.”
In terms of food, Hibbard said, “We're starting off with more shareables,” what he described as “a little bit larger-style appetizers that can be shared between two to four people.”
He said patrons can expect “more of a community-type seating feel,” which will include “more open seating. … There’s high-tops in there now, which we didn’t have before.”
“We have kind of like a cocktail lounge-type setting up front, as well,” Hibbard said.
Following this opening weekend, Hibbard said the plan is for Gather to have regular dining hours Tuesdays through Saturdays.
In addition to owning Gather and Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen, Hibbard has a pasta and pizza sauce line in partnership with “Iron Chef” and Food Network personality Geoffrey Zakarian.