|- New addition last year on the restaurant and a new fifth floor for the hotel|
When AFTER 50 approached me about being in this issue, my first thought was to talk about the good old days. Well, I quickly realized how hard that might be seeing that my current frame of mind best reflects the following:
Full steam ahead!
Yes, I have enough memories to get us all in trouble. Many of you readers are a part of my memories. Despite these memories, what excites me the most is what lies ahead. I am fortunate to be healthy for an octogenarian and my businesses both continue to grow and I am making new friends every day.
Buffalo is on the move! For the first time in my lifetime, development downtown seems to be surpassing the suburbs. Exciting developments at the new medical campus and at Canalside, along with new high-rise housing, have suddenly jumped off the drawing boards into reality and buildings are sprouting up everywhere this spring.
When I turned 80, I threw myself a party and surrounded myself with almost 1,500 friends. Some friends were from the old days and some I have met through my new restaurant. As I looked around the room, I saw some people who seemed to be embracing the present and some who appeared stuck in the past. It was a real awakening for me about what I was going to do next. But then I realized that,
I am still having fun, so why stop now?
I have been busy doing some upgrading at the restaurant and hotel. Of course, now that summer is here, I also love spending time in my Patriots and Heroes Park with my dogs, Scallops and Gabby.
The restaurant is keeping me busy and I love it. Our two, medium-size banquet rooms have so many families celebrating special events. I get to meet couples celebrating their 50th (or even 60th!) anniversaries, only to find out they were actually married in my first restaurant on Delevan Ave. back in the 50s or the 60s!
The loyalty the people of this city have shown me through the years is unbelievable. I am now in a position to get involved with some of the development that will directly benefit the people of WNY. When projects present themselves and I see a universal appeal, I think to myself,
I am all in!
I recently signed on to help with the new UB Medical Campus downtown and I was a major sponsor with the town of Lancasters efforts to build one of the first indoor baseball training centers for their little league. This indoor facility actually also provides an opportunity for neighboring towns and leagues to get a jump on their summer season training.
The Depew Boys and Girls Club suffered a terrible fire that left the facility closed. It brought back terrible memories of my own restaurants fire in 1995. I used that personal tragedy as an opportunity to reinvent the restaurant and myself and I plan on helping the committee of the Boys and Girls Club do the same with their building.
My support of ECMC is continuing as I have arranged a legacy gift from my foundation to fund the renovation of the new Orthopedics Clinic at the Grider St. campus.
My TV show, Come Dine with Me, will again be airing this summer on our local ABC-affiliate, WKBW, on channel 7. This project started out as an opportunity to showcase the great restaurants of Buffalo and now, in our fourth season, I am happy to see we have helped so many of them get the recognition they deserve.
Am I still working hard? Yes
I am fortunate enough to have some great staff that has been with me for so long that they even give me a night off now and then to smell the roses. I take these opportunities to help chair some fundraising events. This fall, I have agreed to work the MDA of Buffalo, the Theodore Roosevelt Foundation, and, of course, one organization very dear to my heart: WNY Heroes. The Heroes is an organization that works hard with the veterans of WNY. They work every day to fill so many needs of our older veterans as well as those brave men and woman who have been involved in the current conflicts in the Middle East.
I have established the Russell J. Salvatore Foundation to ensure that my commitments continue on long after I hit the bar in the sky. My trustees have been with me a long time and know what is important to me, and in addition to the upkeep of the park, they will make sure my appreciation for what this city has done for me will be paid back for many years to come!
Thank you, Western New York, I am your biggest fan!
Good health, Gods blessings, and of course, enjoy your dinner!