Q&A / Justin Smith and Andrew Trautman
Providing a welcome remedy
Andrew Trautman and Justin Smith work with and off each other.
Photos by Luke Copping
Names: Justin Smith; Andrew D. Trautman
Location: Remedy House; 492 Rhode Island Street; remedyhouse.co
Ages: 30 and 31, respectively
Number of years in the business: 1 ½; 12
Andrew Trautman logged nearly a dozen years in the hospitality industry by the time he opened Remedy House with his friend Justin, a guy with a background in corporate finance and real estate. The wedge-shaped glass-walled gem that is Remedy House’s home on Buffalo’s West Side offers guests an experience unlike any other in a region bursting at the seams with new experiences. Serving Propeller coffee frothed with remarkable local milk, killer pastries, a modest menu of sturdier fare, well-executed craft cocktails, and a well-curated wine and beer list, it can be all things to all people.
How has building a bar (in concert with a developer) from the ground up made the experience better or worse?
Justin Smith: Pros: Nearly 100% input on the aesthetic, a sense of connection to the space because we did so much of the work on our own.Cons: Added costs because it was a blank slate, and it probably took longer than it would have to move into an existing space.
How do you divide the work of running the joint?
AT: I manage the day-to-day operations of the cafe including scheduling, ordering, and inventory, etc. Justin takes care of things such as taxes, accounting, and banking.
JS: The division is theoretical. [In] our first year, we realized that many times it becomes all hands on deck, and you just pick up where you are needed most.
What, if anything, do you dread about the gig you’ve created for yourself?
JS: We pick our milk up from Teacup Farm at the North Tonawanda Farmers Market weekly. It’s a lot of milk, and it’s heavy. It stays at our commissary space until it’s needed at the café due to space constraints. Then we haul it over to the café every morning.
What do you feel really differentiates Remedy House in Buffalo’s growing hospitality market?
AT: We work very hard to take care of everyone that comes through the door with a higher level of service than what most people may expect in a similar establishment.
JS: I’d like to think we’ve created a very strong staff that looks out for each other like a family. We are by no means the only place to do this, but I do think it’s often overlooked in the hospitality industry.
Do you find yourself explaining anything to customers frequently?
JS: Definitely, a good amount of time is spent explaining the concept. The all-day café is not overly common in WNY, so, just about every day, someone comes in for coffee and then notices we have alcohol on the back wall, which always begins that conversation.
AT: “What’s a tartine?”
What’s your go-to p.m. beverage?
JS: Punt e Mes on the rocks with an orange twist.
AT: A gin martini to start, up with a twist, followed by wine.
What do restaurant people get that you wish the Average Joe understood?
AT: The seasonality of food and the true cost of it all.
JS: Every season is rosé season!
How are you most likely to spend a day off?
JS: When I’m able to completely get my mind off Remedy House, I enjoy attending sporting events, heading to Toronto, and cuddling with my dogs.
AT: Day off? I don’t I understand what that means.