Sunday morning Bill Cultrara, owner with his wife, Patti, of Delavan's Restaurant at 107 Evans St., Batavia, received a phone call from his cook. He quit. No notice. No reason. No explanation. Nothing. He was done.
The last time that happened about six months ago, Cultrara vowed that if happened again, he would close the restaurant, so Sunday, that's what he did.
By Tuesday afternoon, Tony Mancuso was hanging a "For Rent" sign on the building.
"He (the cook) left us high and dry," Cultrara said.
Patti said another cook quitting was just too much.
"We've been through 16 cooks in five years," Patti said. "That's all we could remember. There's others. We could remember their tattoos but not their names."
The last cook was a good employee, Bill said. He didn't smoke. He didn't gab on his mobile phone. He showed up for work. If he had a problem, he never let Bill know about it, he never offered to discuss it.
Bill said finding good professional cooks who are willing to work is just getting harder and harder.
"The restaurant business is very stressful," Bill said. "You don’t know if you’ve got a cook everyday and people are calling in sick all of the time. I’ve had enough. The stress is off of my shoulders."
Bill has a full-time job with the Sheriff's Office as manager of food services for the jail. Patti already has two new job offers lined up, including working as the Tuesday and Thursday afternoon bartender at the city's newest restaurant, Daphne's.
He said closing the popular restaurant where he and Patti made so many friends over the years was bittersweet. He hates closing. He's glad to be rid of the stress.
Bill and Patti met at 107 Evans St. when the location was a bar and grill in 1971. Eventually, they owned the business and the building. At one time they thought they would take over Alex's Place, but when that didn't work out, so they reopened Delavan's.
With the restaurant closed for good, Bill said he will still take orders for his popular sausage and they're still selling his famous wing sauce.
So long as Bill keeps the books open on the business, which he plans to do, the variance to run such a business in its residential location will remain valid.
Bill hopes somebody will come along who wants to run a restaurant and bar in the building. Whomever it is, he says, needs to have restaurant experience. He's not going to turn the location over to somebody who he doesn't think can make a go of it.
The person who gets it and is willing to maintain the same "Cheers"-like neighborhood tavern and restaurant ambiance might find a built-in customer base. Delavan's remained very popular with a large group of loyal customers right up until its final day of business, which was Friday.
"It would be good for somebody who came in here and had a lot of energy," Bill said.
NOTE: If you purchased a gift certificate from Delavan's, or received one as a gift, you have until Dec. 31 to redeem it. Mail it to Delavan's at 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY 14020.
But if you purchased a gift certificate from The Batavian in the past 30 days, mail it to our office at 200 E. Main St., Room 5, Batavia, NY 14020. We will refund your purchase price through PayPal.