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The Frontier House will soon reopen with a new restaurant tenant.
The Frontier House will soon reopen with a new restaurant tenant.

Local leaders excited for Frontier House future

by jmaloni
Mon, Jan 8th 2024 07:00 am

Billy Club team to take over basement and first floor

By Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor

Less than a month removed from the 19th anniversary of the Frontier House closing to the public, the surest sign of its reopening was announced on Friday.

Restaurateurs Daniel Hagen and Jake Strawser – the duo behind Buffalo’s Billy Club restaurant – will take over most of the first floor of the Village of Lewiston’s now 200-year-old crown jewel at 460 Center St.

A press release noted, “At Fairbanks,” which is what their Frontier House restaurant will be called, “they will showcase their signature style that combines local ingredients, seasonal flavors and creative techniques to create dishes that are both delicious and memorable. … We hope to create a place that will become a destination for locals and visitors alike, where they can enjoy great food and drinks in a beautiful setting."

It's anticipated Fairbanks will open closer to the summer months.

At that time, patrons entering through the Frontier House’s main front doors will immediately notice a brand-new staircase leading to the second floor. The dining and bar areas will utilize the first floor’s main room and a trio of side rooms. An open-kitchen concept is planned for the serving area that once was used by workers of former tenant McDonald’s Restaurant.

Behind that, on the far north side of this level, will be an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant living unit. The building’s upper levels also are reserved for rental units.

Billy Club will utilize the all-original-stone rathskeller in the basement, plus a new outdoor patio.

Ellicott Development is overseeing construction, renovation and rental.

Mayor Anne Welch said she is impressed with the company’s attention to detail, especially noting myriad new beams installed throughout the building.

“I’m excited to see all the progress on the interior of the Frontier House,” she said. “The rooms are framed out with structural steel and ready for drywall, and the original fireplaces were saved. The construction of the new restaurant will be starting soon and will be a great addition to our community. I look forward to the grand opening in spring/summer!”

Construction is well underway at the Frontier House in Lewiston.


Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Broderick said, “Very exciting news to see something actually come to fruition, with a name and a plan. I look forward to having a meal there and celebrating.”

Niagara County Legislature Chairwoman Rebecca Wydysh said, "The Village of Lewiston is such a vibrant community and now we are on the cusp of adding a significant development with the rebirth of the Frontier House. Fairbanks restaurant sounds like it will be a tremendous addition to the amazing culinary options we already have in Lewiston. I can't believe it's been close to two decades since that historic building closed, so I consider us very fortunate that there were developers with a vision willing to take on this challenge. The Frontier House is an important piece of our history and it's exciting to think about it now being part of our future."

Upward Niagara Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly said, “We are looking forward to the opening of Fairbanks Lewiston. Having two experienced restaurateurs paired with a historic gem of a building in a beautiful village is a perfect match! Patrons won't want to miss dining in the historic Frontier House. It holds an allure of history, mystery and more!”

Community advocate and historian Lee Simonson is writing a coffee table book on the Frontier House. The manuscript will be released after the site’s planned reopening this year.

He said, “This announcement is a huge leap forward in the resurrection of Lewiston’s most iconic and historic building.

“Was it destiny or just a coincidence that 2024 marks the 200th bicentennial of the moment when local bricklayers stacked the first stones at the base of what was to become the symbol of luxury and comfort on the American frontier? The Frontier House was known far and wide as offering the finest accommodations and was a sought-after destination for visitors arriving on stagecoaches.

“Because of our rich history, Lewiston is recognized today as one of the best small towns in America – and Western New York’s cultural centerpiece – and we thank and congratulate restaurateurs Daniel Hagen and Jake Strawser for investing in Lewiston and taking us to the next level.

“Within a few short months, we’ll be able to sit and dine within the same walls that Benjamin Barton and Joshua Fairbanks, and their successors, hosted some of the most noted and celebrated personalities of their times.”

Frontier House property principal Jeff Williams said Billy Club will bring in Buffalo crowds, and “New traffic always brings new excitement. A new restaurant, with a good reputation, in an exceptional space, will always bring new people to town. Whenever new people are in town, Lewiston is always better.”

Billy Club is located at 228 Allen St. Menu items include a farm-beef burger on brioche with caramelized onion, provolone, barbecue sauce, fries and pickles; a duck breast with polenta and spaghetti squash panisse, fig, onion soubise, and blackberry; gnocchi with crab, fennel, acorn squash, kale and lemon; a 14-ounce ribeye steak with salt-roasted potato, oyster mushroom, and beet chimichurri; and halibut with fennel, kale, and saffron aioli.

The restaurant offers dinner, brunch, cocktails, beer and wine.

Williams noted, “It’s exceptional food in a beautiful space.”

“They’re good guys, and it’s great,” he said of the new partnership.

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