Interview: Chef Kevin O’Connell Jr

Today we are excited to have Chef Kevin O’Connell Jr from O’Connell’s American Bistro as our newest Buffalo Foodie.  Just recently we visited his restaurant as part of Local Restaurant Week and his offering during that week was one of the best we’ve seen since we started Buffalo Eats.  Not only is his restaurant serving some very good food but O’Connell’s has started to branch out and host some cool events.  Whether it’s having a food truck parked in front of the restaurant late at night, hosting a monthly Stand Up Comedy night (O’Comedy) or even doing a guest spot on The Roaming Buffalo himself, Kevin has some fun ideas in mind.

Kevin took some time out his hectic schedule to answer some of our questions about his favorite places to eat, where he likes to grab a late night drink or bite to eat and what’s going on with Fork in the Road.  Here’s what he had to say….

Right now, where are your favorite places to eat when your not working?

Kevin: I am a sucker for a great burger.  I love the Sterling Tavern.  John and Judy just do it right; great draft and bottled beer selection and one of the all time great Burgers.  I also love their Bologna sandwich…they slice it super thin and grill each piece and put a slice of cheese on every piece…that is like fat guy paradise!!!!  I love brunch as well, and being closed on Sunday’s it the one meal I really try to have every week.  Shango does a great brunch, Jim really knocks it out of the park.  Another favorite spot is Aroma on Bryant, Dave’s use of local products is second to none in Buffalo.

Where are some of your favorite places to unwind with friends and family?

Kevin:  I’m getting old now so most nights I unwind on the couch, but on the occasion I do venture out.  Mother’s is always a good place, especially for us chef’s that like a good cocktail and food served till 3am.  I also love the Snooty Fox, Sal has really got a great crew and Randy and Molly always take great care of me (and sometimes I need a little babysitting).

What are some food memories you have from growing up?

Kevin: My grandfather (my mother’s father) always had a great garden and did most of the cooking and I just remember fresh vegetables and lots of good southern comfort food. Growing up in Los Angeles I was a really lucky kid, I got to eat at some really fantastic restaurants and try foods that normal kids my age were not eating.  Also being in a culture of so much diversity, I ate a ton of ethnic foods.  My girlfriend has really also opened my eyes to different Asian foods which is now a staple in my diet.

If you had someone visiting from out of town, where would you go to show them a good time?

Kevin: I think we take a lot of what we have here for granted.  We have some of the best museums and architecture in all of the nation.  We also have one of the greatest theaters in the Shea’s area, I have a soft spot for it because my grandfather (my fathers father) was instrumental in saving the theatre.  As far as food and drink..the staples like wings and beef on weck….but places like Chef’s say a lot about the history of our city.

What would you like to see more of in WNY’s restaurant scene?

Kevin: More street food, which is not necessarily food trucks, but little bodega style ethnic places, pop up restaurants.

What is the current status of your food truck plans (Fork in the Road)?

Kevin: Well, I think that since the city has finally come up with proper legislation that allows the trucks to roam as they were meant to, I am revisiting the opportunity.  I think there is room for more and I would love to be the first brick and mortar chef to also have a mobile business, so…..let’s just say the Fork is still planted with the option to roam.


We definitely recommend stopping by O’Connell’s to grab a bite to eat, you can follow them on twitter or facebook to keep up to date with nightly specials.  We’re also crossing our fingers for the Fork In The Road to make it’s long awaited appearance on the streets of Buffalo, who wouldn’t love a Banh Mi at 1am?!

One thought on “Interview: Chef Kevin O’Connell Jr

  • May 2, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Great story on Chef Kevin. Im gonna be the one to say when he becomes a National Treasure, “I knew him when”………………. He’s our treasure now, but not for long.


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