Seize the cheese
Chef’s opens new to-go location in Amherst
Chef’s Restaurant regularly sold over 200 pounds of mozzarella cheese daily last year.
Now, at its new location off North Campus, Chef’s is looking to double that.
Chef’s Italian restaurant opened a second location in Amherst, Chef’s On the Go, which functions as a to-go style restaurant with limited seating and a drive-thru, requiring customers to call in or order on the Chef’s app. Students are looking forward to getting their signature spaghetti parm on the go, and those who can’t make the four-mile drive from North Campus can order through DoorDash for a small delivery fee.
The spaghetti parm has become a local cuisine staple alongside Buffalo wings and beef on weck. It’s the restaurant’s best-seller, drawing in celebrity appearances from Jerry Springer, Keanu Reeves and Luke Bryan.
The meal consists of a traditional linguine and tomato sauce plate, topped with a large helping of butter and “about four or five ounces of cheese.” Then the food is broiled until the layer of cheese is golden brown.
The new location officially opened last Thursday at 5483 Sheridan Dr. in the Williamsville Place Plaza. The restaurant received “thousands” of orders on its opening day, prompting the owners to temporarily shut down service on their app, according to co-owner Lou Billittier.
“[The reception] is amazing, it’s overwhelming. We can’t keep up,” Lou Billittier said. “We expected to be extremely busy, but never to this magnitude. It was physically impossible to fill all those orders [on the first day].”
The new location offers a smaller menu than the original restaurant but still includes appetizers and sandwich options. The menu includes a variety of traditional pasta dishes like ravioli, fettuccini alfredo and new takes on Italian cuisine like spaghetti parm and a boneless cacciatore. The food is served in microwavable to-go containers.
Chef’s first opened in 1923 as a traditional Italian restaurant. The current co-owners, Lou and MaryBeth Billittier, took over the restaurant from their father and previously expanded the restaurant with catering options and their own food truck.
“Nowadays everyone’s running in five different directions, so we thought it would be a new concept, rather than typical fast food,” MaryBeth Billitier said.
The co-owners say the restaurant’s inspiration came after their food truck was damaged by a fire at the Taste of Orchard Park festival last year. The truck had “significant damage” and hasn’t run in over a year, so they created the restaurant to mimic the accessibility of a food truck, according to Lou Billittier.
“We didn’t know what to do after [the food truck fire], and then we thought, ‘what if we do a food truck with no wheels,’” Lou Billitier said. “It’s basically the same concept. It’s grab-and-go convenience.”
And students can’t wait to take advantage of their new system.
Roni Berger, a senior finance major, always orders spaghetti parm when she goes to Chef’s.
“I love the spaghetti parm because of their homemade sauce. They perfect the [recipe] every time, and I always go home with a jar of their sauce,” Berger said. “I always feel welcomed when I am there.”
Samantha Vargas is the senior features editor and can be reached at Samantha.Vargas@UBSpectrum.com and on Twitter at @SamMarieVargas.