SHORTSVILLLE — When Bill and Robin Mallwitz met in 1966, a life in the restaurant business wasn’t on their minds. Bill was in the Air Force and Robin was in college. But after their wedding in Robin’s home city of Las Vegas, a few more years of military service, then a period in law enforcement for Bill, it was back to their roots. Well, Bill’s roots.
“I grew up in the restaurant business,” said Bill — a.k.a. Buffalo Bill, whose family owned a restaurant, banquet hall and bowling alley in Buffalo. He knew the business inside and out. So when a chance to open a little restaurant on Main Street, Shortsville, came up in 1983, he and Robin decided to do it.
It wasn’t a hard sell for Robin. “Because we were starting small, it didn’t scare me too much,” she said. “And I was young.”
Starting small didn’t last. Within weeks of opening in the summer of 1983 it was obvious they needed more space, Bill said. So they moved into the building across the street, 19 W. Main, where they were able to grow from a 30-seat restaurant to one that seats about 100.
Good thing. Their now long-established Buffalo Bills Family Restaurant And Tap Room can fill quickly on any Wednesday through Saturday when they open at 4 p.m., with no closing time.
“We could be open until 11 p.m. or 1 a.m.,” said Bill, adding it all depends on the night and the crowd. He and Robin live above the restaurant, a convenience they say has helped them make the most of the business they love. With Robin in the front of the house, greeting customers, tending bar and keeping track of all things outside the kitchen, Bill is a master at the grill and all things culinary. Buffalo Bill’s specialties include homemade bread baked daily, special recipe breaded chicken fingers, and prime rib served on Friday and Saturday. They’re also known for their cajun dishes, shrimp, scallops and salad bar.
It’s the people, though, their patrons and staff, who are the heart of their business, Bill and Robin say.
“Restaurants bring out the good character in people,” said Bill. Around a table, enjoying good food and drink, is when people can relax and be their best, he said. “Without restaurants where would we be?”
“More deals are done in restaurants than in board rooms by far,” he added.
For Robin, as well, the restaurant business is about the atmosphere and the camaraderie. “You make people happy and it makes you happy to be in that environment,” she said.
On Sunday, Sept. 22, Bill and Robin will celebrate 30 years in business with a party, inviting everyone to come and enjoy complementary hors d'oeuvres and live music. The fun begins at 4 p.m. No closing time.