Southtown staple Mulberry expanding north

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Mulberry Italian Restaurant is a staple of the southtowns, and they’ve been approached before to expand in Western New York, Toronto, even as far as Ohio.

But a decision has been made, and it’s good news for lovers of Italian cuisine — it’s much closer than the Buckeye State. Mulberry will be opening a new location in the northtowns, at the former location of Squire on Main.

Mulberry Italian Restaurant has made Lackawanna’s Bethlehem Park neighborhood smell of basil, marinara and garlic for the better part of the past 13 years.

 

“When we first opened, everybody thought we were crazy for opening up down here,” said chef and co-owner Joe Jerge. “But I think the location is part of the attraction. I think it’s a warm, inviting place. A little grandma’s cooking, and there’s some newer stuff that we do. We try to mix it up a little bit.”

Soon, they’ll be mixing it up in a new town, but right on a main thoroughfare — as in Main Street in Amherst’s Snyder neighborhood.

 

“We felt like this was the right time and it’s the right size place, which is very important,” Jerge said.

The menu at the new spot, Mulberry on Main, will be mostly similar to what diners at the Lackawanna location expect.

 

“The staples will be there,” Jerge said. “We’re going to make the gnocchi, the different pastas, the lasagna, the meatballs, all the things people have grown accustomed to getting here.”

They’ll also offer their own mozzarella and pasta, made fresh for your meal, and a few other menu additions to make the Snyder experience unique.

It’s been an eventful — and at times scary — year for Mulberry, tucked along a street less than 100 yards from one of the region’s biggest fires in history.

 

 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jerge said. “Early in the morning, the bread man came with the bread delivery, and said, did you see what’s going on? I peaked outside and the whole sky was black. We’re only 50 to100 yards away form it.”

Bethlehem Steel was an inferno. And had the wind shifted to the north, the Bethlehem Park neighborhood and Mulberry would be right in its path.

The massive fire may have forced them to close for a week, but it didn’t force them to stop cooking.

 

“We saw the Lackawanna guys down there, and then the Buffalo guys joined and some other companies, so we made up a few trays of meatballs and took them down,” Jerge said. “I think it was pretty much a no brainer. These guys are out there fighting this fire, all the neighbors were out watching, my mother lives right down the street. It’s a no brainer, let’s go take care of these guys, we’re right here.”

The new restaurant, Mulberry on Main is expected to begin service with soft openings at the beginning of September, and hope to be fully operational by the middle of the month. Soon, they’ll have a new website and phone number (no calls to the Lackawanna spot for reservations in Snyder, Jerge said) for Mulberry on Main. Check back here for updates.

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