For nearly a year a sign has hung at the former Steven’s Restaurant that reads “Friendly Buffalo coming soon.”
But the worst-kept secret in Princeton has been confirmed: The Big Lake-based Friendly Buffalo is not coming to 202 N. Rum River Drive, Princeton. That’s despite a picture of a photo of the former Steven’s Restaurant on the Friendly Buffalo website and a caption that states, “Coming Soon.”
The Friendly Buffalo quickly emerged as a potential tenant of the building soon after the demise of Steven’s Restaurant and its sister company, Classic Catering, in the spring of 2016.
Friendly Buffalo personnel not only hung the “coming soon” sign on the one-time American Legion post but announced a probable opening date of Memorial Day Weekend. That quickly changed to the Fourth of July and then Labor Day weekend.
But the Friendly Buffalo never opened its doors – with the exception of Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, when the Friendly Buffalo hosted the Class of 1966’s 50th reunion in the basement of the building.
Tom Brown, an ownership partner in the building, confirmed Monday, April 10, that the Friendly Buffalo is not coming to the Princeton building.
Brown, his partners and the team at the Friendly Buffalo couldn’t come to a lease agreement that would work for all involved, Brown said.
“Our goal, as owners, is not to put someone in there who won’t succeed,” Brown said.
By the end of the month the Friendly Buffalo sign will be removed from the building, Brown said. It will be replaced by signage stating the building is for sale or lease.
“It’s up for lease, but we’re willing to sell it,” Brown said. “Both are on the table.”
The building owners have plans to work with a broker that has expertise in the restaurant business and knows the area. The broker will market the former restaurant building, Brown said.
The owners would also be happy to work with a restaurateur who has ties to the region.
Brown said the owners have a new design for the kitchen and have come a long way in making improvements to the building while they were in negotiations with the Friendly Buffalo.
“The building is in great shape,” Brown said, noting that talk on the street about black mold in the building has been nothing but rumor.
“There is a great opportunity to purchase or lease the building,” he said.