Compass Run to close at 500 Seneca in Buffalo

After five years of operation, Dobutsu has decided to shift to a different concept, Compass Run.

Compass Run to close at 500 Seneca in Buffalo

James Roberts, who reopened his Buffalo restaurant 500 Seneca a year ago, has announced that he will close Compass Run and focus all his efforts on Toutant, another downtown restaurant.

Compass Run replaced Dobutsu. Dobutsu operated in that space for five long years before the decision was made to switch to a new concept. James told Buffalo Business First that running two successful restaurants while raising his family of young children with wife Connie was too much.

It's a difficult business for us. First, I have a young family with young children who deserve my full attention. He said, "I don't wish to miss the childhood of my children." In this economic climate, it is difficult to run an a-la-carte restaurant. It takes a lot of dedication and inspiration, and I've got two restaurants I need to run. I have been splitting my work for six years, but now that they are evolving they need more.

Dobutsu was opened in 2018, following the transformation of 500 Seneca to a multi-use facility.

Roberts stated that the restaurant has been open for six years, and had two different concepts. This is longer than many restaurants have existed. We got to work on what we loved. I've never worked somewhere where people were so excited to leave. It's been a true honor.

Roberts is almost a third through his 20-year lease with 500 Seneca. He said that plans include converting the space into an opportunity for another operator. This could involve him and his spouse providing consulting services to help others realize their dreams within the industry.

We had to start from scratch. He said: 'I figure we can give somebody an opportunity, maybe give another operator a lower barrier to enter the industry. I've built a very successful business with Toutant, and we've been able do everything we wanted here.

Roberts will return to the business Toutant, which was founded eight years ago on 437 Ellicott St. He said he would do some updating, but the core of the restaurant will remain the same. Its focus will be on Cajun Southern cuisine, including its famous chicken and biscuits.

Roberts has already heard from his colleagues that they are eager to hire 12-15 cooks and servers from Compass Run. All of them have agreed to remain on the staff until the end. The restaurant will close on June 10.

He said that'most are of a very high standard'. If they haven't been spoken for yet, they will be in a hurry.