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Trio opens a second restaurant

Rochester Business Journal
June 20, 2014

Led by two fourth-generation restaurateurs and a chef with more than 30 years of experience, the newly opened Tavern at Clover is the second restaurant for the trio.

Brothers Ryan and Nicholas Dwyer teamed up with Michael Schnupp, chef and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, in 2007 to pursue their dream of opening a restaurant as three generations of their family had.

The Tavern at Clover, a dba of Great Tavern Pittsford Partners LLC, opened April 24. It has three floors, including a renovated cellar space, options for private parties, and event amenities, including a dance floor on the top level. The restaurant has about 5,000 square feet of public space at 2851 Clover

St. in Pittsford—the longtime site of the former Crystal Barn fine-dining restaurant.

“We all bring a unique skill set to it,” said Ryan Dwyer, partner at Great Tavern Partners LLC, Great Tavern Pittsford Partners LLC and general manager of Tavern58 at Gibbs. “We all had our focus, which we knew we could pull together, the three of us, and really excel.”

The trio’s first location was Great Tavern Partners LLC, dba Tavern58 at Gibbs. The 3,100-square-foot location opened downtown in 2008.

The tavern mentality suggests a comfortable experience for patrons, according to the owners.

“We want people to be able to enjoy the best the culinary world has to offer and the more relaxed environment,” said Nicholas Dwyer, partner in both companies and general manager of the Tavern at Clover. “Not to be against the full five-star or the country club environment, but we like to get the best of the best without having to worry about the shirt and tie.”

With two locations, the Tavern brand is expected to triple its sales in 18 months.

“I think our plan would (be to) become a staple in this town,” said Nicholas Dwyer. “I would love someday (to see the Tavern at Clover) employ 100 all on its own.”

Revenues for the Clover Street location are expected to be at least 250 percent higher than for the Gibbs Street tavern.

There was a bit of fear about extending the concept of the company into two different settings. The main mission, however, will not change, the owners say.

“The core main similarity that will never change is our approach to hospitality,” said Nicholas Dwy-er. “I go talk tableside to as many guests as possible, and that approach to hospitality and service and (Mike’s) approach in the back with always fresh in-house (cuisine) will always be consistent in any concept we put out in the future as well.”

Collectively the restaurants employ 105 people with 40 downtown and 65 at the new tavern, and there are plans to add more people by the end of the year—10 to 15 at the Pittsford location and four to eight at the Gibbs Street site.

“We were very proud to be able to pull that off,” said Nicholas Dwyer. “We’re extremely proud that we provide some compensation to 100-plus people. It’s a tough business to make a living in, and we all love it—and you have to love it.”

For every decade since 1940, a Dwyer family member has owned a restaurant in Rochester.

Daniel Dwyer, their father, owned the Bounty Harbor on Irondequoit Bay for nearly 13 years and opened and owned Marshall’s Steakhouse in Greece for about four years. Bernie Dwyer, their grandfather, owned a Marshall’s Steakhouse in the 1960s and ’70s. Frank Marshall, their great-grandfather, opened the first of the family’s restaurants, the first Marshall’s Steakhouse, in the 1940s and ’50s.

“(I am) trying to do my best to portray their business of how they would like their restaurant to continue,” said Brian Arliss, chef de cuisine of the Tavern at Clover, “and really bring our vision out here to the people of Pittsford—same tavern philosophy, just three floors now.”

The group had been seeking another location for roughly a year. The Clover Street location held the Crystal Barn restaurant for 30 years before it closed, after filing for bankruptcy, in 2010.

The Barn originally was one of four restaurants on the site, owned by the Lusk family for more than 100 years, said landlord Charles Ryan of Charles F. Ryan Real-tors LLC.

“From 2010 on, various people tried to make a go of it, but they weren’t real food people; they were kind of amateurs trying it out. And the Dwyers—my impression of them is that they’re real pros at what they do,” he said.

“The restaurant business is a tough business, no question, but if anyone is going to be successful, I think they will,” he said.

The restaurant’s menu is all-American cuisine with a major differentiator—all of the food is made on site.

“We do everything from scratch,” said Schnupp, a partner in both LLCs and executive chef at both taverns. “There’s not a whole lot of restaurants doing that. Some of them say, ‘OK, we make our own bread’ or ‘We make our own pasta.’ Not all of them are doing all of it like we are.”

The demographic at the Pittsford location already has shifted to serving more families, the owners say.

“We’re pouring a lot more Shirley Temples and chocolate milks,” Ryan Dwyer said.

Partnering with local business is a key strategy for the owners. From the selection of wines and brews to coffee flavors, their philosophy is to strengthen the community.

“Anything I can do to help promote local businesses and all the different wineries down there, it’s a win-win for everybody,” said Ryan Dwyer. “They produce great products I’m happy to sell.”

The new space gives the company the chance to host events. The first wedding is booked for July 2015.

“We get a lot of calls at (Tavern58) for people looking to do functions that we just logistically couldn’t pull off,” said Nicholas Dwyer. “We had one floor, no real private areas. … And another reason this place kind of spoke to us is we went from the complete opposite end of the spectrum; now we’ve got three floors, storage, we have private corners everywhere.”

As East Irondequoit natives, the Dwyers knew they would start their careers in the Rochester area.

“This is home. We were exposed at a very young age to the hospitality industry, (and) there’s great pride in (it),” said Nicholas Dwyer. “This has been a very strong hospitality industry town. It’s been well-supported for independent operators for decades.”

Opening two restaurants in the span of six years is a testament to the future, landlord Ryan said.

“They have a track record, they have a system, they have good people. I could tell from day one they knew what they were doing,” he said.

6/20/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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