‘White Buffalo’ Bar and Restaurant in Downtown New Canaan an Early Hit

White Buffalo, a bar and restaurant that three town men opened last month down “the alley” at the top of Elm Street, is developing a strong following among locals during its early-going. Approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission last fall for its new restaurant use of a commercial space that had been used in the past for retail and music lessons, White Buffalo includes a 13-stool bar and rows of two-person tables that bring the total seating to about 40 people. 

With a straightforward American sports bar-type decor that includes a prominent white buffalo head and large painted American flag that substitutes white buffalo heads for stars, the eatery’s menu includes traditional pub fare such as nachos, chicken nuggets, wings, hot pretzel and pizza, and is built mainly around hot dogs. “We source our weiners from a Hungarian butcher in Fairfield who started in the business in the 1950s,” said Dave Tonkovich, a 1993 graduate of New Canaan High School who opened ‘White Buff’ with classmate Dom Valente and Doug Harris. “We pick up fresh hot dogs from him every few days.”

Hot dog options include “Dog Day Afternoon” (jalapeños, bacon, cheese sauce and Cholula sauce) and “The Poochie” (guacamole, salsa, crema, bacon). Tonkovich added: “Also a side note, we don’t call it a ‘menu’—we call it ‘legislative requirements.’ ”

“We’re interested in adding a few custom hot dogs to our offering,” he said.

Local Restaurant To Undergo Re-Inspection After Citation for ‘Toxic Items’ Placement 

A restaurant on Main Street in New Canaan is to undergo re-inspection by local health officials who this week found an insecticide and chemical compound improperly stored in its kitchen. During an unannounced April 9 inspection at the Indian restaurant, a sanitarian in the New Canaan Health Department discovered a “risk factor” violation in the category of “toxic items properly stored, labeled & used,” according to the inspector’s report. Specifically, the inspector found Raid and isopropyl alcohol stored on shelf above a dishwashing area and near food container storage at Chef Prasad restaurant, according to the sanitarian’s report. Inspectors use a state Department of Public Health standard, citing eateries for violations that range in seriousness and corresponding weight from one to four points. A “failed” inspection is triggered either by one or more four-point or “risk factor” violations, or a total score of less than 80 points.

‘Performance’ Physical Therapy Opens on Cross Street 

Todd Wilkowski founded Performance Physical Therapy in 2002, after working for four years at a startup multi-disciplinary pain management center in New York City. 

A Buffalo, N.Y. native who earned a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from Ithaca College in 1993, Wilkowski had already spent several years working in Cincinnati, a hub of orthopedics and sports medicine at the time. He founded Performance after purchasing the physical therapy practice from the Manhattan startup, and expanded to Greenwich in 2005. 

Today, Performance employs 90 people between a New York City location and four more in Fairfield County. On Monday, Wilkowski launches Performance’s sixth office on Cross Street in New Canaan. “We have seen a lot of New Canaan residents through the years, it’s a great community, and we decided it was a good time to explore the New Canaan market and see if it would work out to have a facility right in town, instead of asking people to travel to come to us,” Wilkowski said on a recent afternoon. “I probably would have been here sooner, but we aren’t just opening all over the place—we want to make sure we have a great staff to put in these facilities,” said Wilkowski, a Greenwich resident.

Here’s What’s Happening at Park and Pine Streets 

The renovation of the former Post Office building at Park and Pine Streets is underway—a project that’s expected to transform the single-story structure dramatically in preparation for a new office use. Vacant since Mrs. Green’s closed in October 2016, the building at 2 Pine St. is undergoing a $250,000 renovation in order to make it ready for employees of Merrill Lynch, which will move catty-corner into the refurbished space. The owners of the building are “very excited” to have Merrill Lynch moving in to the space, its property manager told NewCanaanite.com in an email. The owners are in the process of renovating the exterior of the building which includes new windows, siding and a facade upgrade, the property manager said.

‘We Don’t Want To Be the Biggest, We Want To Be the Best’: Fresh Green Light Driver’s Ed Opens in New Canaan

Steve Mochel had been working for 20 years with the same global marketing agency, most recently in New York City, when he was told at the end of 2008 that he’d be laid off in the wake of the economic downturn. His wife told him. Laura Shuler was president of the agency at the time, and Mochel “worked for a guy who worked for her,” he recalled on a recent morning. Shuler herself quit two weeks later and the pair decided to launch their own business—a first-time endeavor for the couple. 

“She actually had been working with a client in the automotive industry and kept coming home and talking about the dangers of teen driving just as our oldest kid was almost 16—the facts and figures are that car crashes are the number one killer of teenagers in America,” Mochel recalled. “Most parents still don’t know that.