Belle-View East’s Owner Achieved His Goal And More

Gary Visosky serves dinners on platters, rather than plates, at his Belle-View East Restaurant in Falconer. Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Although he may not have realized it at the time, Gary Visosky was an entrepreneur at an early age. After his parents divorced and his mother took an evening job waiting tables, the teenager took over the roll of cooking and caring for his three younger siblings.

At the same time, he found whatever odd jobs a 15-year-old could do to help supplement his mother’s income. Cutting and bundling peonies, irises and lupins in Zeestraten’s flower field in Greenhurst, filling the pinsetter rack at Palladium Alleys on Washington Street, making and selling potholders and raising and collecting bait to sell to fishermen on Chautauqua Lake were some of the ways the young man helped his family survive.

“My mother worked day and night to support the family. We didn’t have a lot and ate a lot of potatoes that I picked at Cheney’s Farm,” he says. “I made a lot of cookies and brownies too.”

He remembers six or seven bags of food waiting for the family every month at the church the family attended.

“We lived on macaroni and cheese, potatoes and very rarely hot dogs or Spam. Anything that was cheap, we lived off. We had a rough go of it.”

This Open-Face Chicken Cordon Bleu went home with restauranteur Gary Visosky to be enjoyed for a late dinner.

At the age of 17, he graduated with 42 other classmates in 1959 from Bemus Point High School, where he took every business course offered. He married young and stayed the course for 55 years before he lost his wife, Sharon.

After graduation Visosky took a job at Blackstone Corporation in shipping and receiving but was unable to refuse a position with United Parcel Service six years later. Even though he enjoyed the route and the people to which he delivered packages for 25 years in Sherman, Findley Lake, Panama and Clymer, he was once again lured away when a restaurant on the southside of Jamestown came up for sale.

“I always wanted a restaurant and a sports car,” he says with a grin. “My son could cook and I could tend bar.”

When he was 50 years old he became the owner of Bell View Restaurant on Foote Avenue. With his wife hostessing, his daughter waiting tables and his son cooking at his first business, he was able to open Belle-View East at 7 E. Main St., Falconer a few years later on Nov. 15, 1992. After trying to buy the Foote Avenue building for several years to no avail, he closed the business and concentrated on the Falconer location, which is thriving today.

The establishment still has the Riverboat on their menu, a dish his son cooked when living in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as well as his crab cake recipe.

Peanut Butter Pie is one of the restaurant’s best sellers.

He shares the secret to Belle-View East’s success. “We have the best food, our prices are reasonable and we have the best help.” He boasts about his staff saying six of the girls have been with him for 26 years, a few off and on and his chef, Ellen Trummer, started with him from the beginning.

“Ellen is my ace in the hole,” he says.

He also credits Assistant Chef Chris Morton, who has worked at the restaurant 15-16 years, for helping with the business’ success.

“We did over 300 meals for Thanksgiving and only one went back to the kitchen. Kathy Lawson, manager and head bartender, has also been with me since day one,” he says. “I try to take good care of them and they do very well for me. We’re a family. The girls all do things together (outside of work).

He admits he has had to let a few employees go over the years who have not fit in. He does not advertise, with the exception of holiday time, because he feels word of mouth is the best advertisement.

A Seafood Salad is served on a bed of greens.

“A couple came in here when I opened telling me I couldn’t run a place without computers. Because of good food, good service and great, great people working for me, we’re still here and still doing okay.”

Without a doubt, the gargantuan platter-sized portions served at Belle-View East come to the mind of most people who have ever had a meal there. Some say one portion would feed a family of two adults and two small children.

“I doubt anybody in the state of New York has bigger portions, but definitely not in Chautauqua County. I’d lay money on it,” says the 75-year-old man. “It’s unbelievable how many people come back, a lot of Pennsylvania people, north county, Buffalo people. Repeat business has kept us going.”

They are known for the one pound two-ounce meatball served atop a huge pile of spaghetti. Ground steak is used in the meatballs, meatloaf and half pound burgers.

“We sell a lot of prime rib and a lot of steaks,” he says. “All beef is IBP select aged 30-45 days. I’d put our prime rib, which is available every night and all day Sunday, and steak up against any in the state.”

The same 16-ounce white fish and batter have been used since Visosky opened the business. Haddock is available as well, with the option of having either fish broiled or breaded for lunch or dinner. At least four homemade soups are offered every day. No fewer than ten and as many as 14 specials are posted daily on a whiteboard.

“I guarantee there is not another restaurant that runs 10-14 specials every day for lunch and dinner, plus over 40 items on the menu.”

Eighty persons can be accommodated on the main level. Seventy-five seats are available in the second floor banquet room, where the owner says only one group is booked at a time. A full bar is located on both levels. A buffet meal is available for groups of thirty or more.

He not only reached his dream of owning a restaurant and a sports car, he’s owned two restaurants and several sports cars. He enjoys going to ball games in Erie, golfing and spending weekends at Seneca Allegany Casino, where he sees many shows and concerts. He is a 42-year member of Falconer American Legion and belongs to the Moose and Eagles clubs.

His doctor tells him to keep doing what he is doing. Chances are the 22-stair climb he makes to his office 20 times per day has contributed to his fitness.

“I work 75 hours per week for Gary Visosky and Governor Cuomo and I will retire when I die. I spend most of my time working at the restaurant because I enjoy people and my help, who are my second family,” he declares. “If you don’t like what you are doing, get out! I still enjoy what I do. I’m a people person and have made millions of friends. Between UPS and this, I have spent the last fifty years talking with people. As long as I stay on my two feet…I guess I’ll work until I drop.”

He has two sons, a daughter, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Belle-View East serves lunch Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner Monday to Thursday from 3-9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 3-10 p.m. They are open on Sundays from noon-8 p.m., when both lunch and dinner are available. Dinner reservations are appreciated, but not necessary. They are recommended for Fridays and holidays and may be made by calling 665-3520. The restaurant is closed Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas and July Fourth when it falls on a week day.

Peanut Butter Pie

12 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1¢ c peanut butter

3 c powdered sugar

2 small tubs whipped topping, thawed

Oreo pie crust

Mix together cream cheese, peanut butter and powdered sugar. Fold in topping. Pour mixture into pie crust. Chill.

Seafood Salad

¢ c mayonnaise

1 envelope ranch dressing mix

2 c imitation crabmeat

2 c miniature shrimp, cooked

¢ c celery, chopped

¢ c green pepper, diced

dash of lemon pepper

Prepare dressing according to directions on package. Toss with remaining ingredients. Chill. Serve alone or on fresh greens.

Open-Face Chicken Cordon Bleu

boneless chicken breast

flour

1 egg, beaten

bread crumbs

sliced ham

Swiss cheese

Broccoli florets, cooked

Alfredo sauce

Dip moistened chicken breast in flour and then egg and finally in bread crumbs.

Pan fry until thoroughly cooked. Top with ham and cheese. Put under broiler until brown. Serve over pasta with broccoli florets and Alfredo sauce.

Broccoli Salad

4 c broccoli florets

¢ c walnuts, chopped

¢ c sunflower seeds

2 T onion, chopped

™ c bacon pieces

3-4 stalks celery, chopped

Combine all ingredients. Stir in dressing.

Dressing for Broccoli Salad

§ c Miracle Whip

™ c sugar

™ c vinegar

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Creme de Menthe Pie

1 Oreo Cookie Crust

16 oz cream cheese, softened

1¢ c sifted powdered sugar

2-3 T green CrËme de Menthe

2 c whipped topping, thawed

Miniature chocolate chips

Chocolate sprinkles

Chocolate syrup, optional

Combine cream cheese, sugar and Creme de Menthe, mixing well until blended. Fold in whipped topping. Pour into crust. Chill several hours or overnight. Garnish with mini chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles and/or chocolate syrup, if desired.

Old Fashioned Rice Pudding

¢ c rice

¢ c sugar

4 c milk

™ c butter

dash cinnamon

Combine rice, sugar and milk. Pour into an oven-safe casserole dish. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 degrees until set, approximately 2-2 ¢ hours. Serve warm as a dinner side or cold as a dessert.

Tomato Soup Salad Dressing

1 can tomato soup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

¢ c sugar

¢ c vinegar

1 c vegetable oil

1 tsp salt

¢ tsp pepper

1 tsp mustard

1 tsp garlic powder

Thoroughly combine ingredients in blender. Chill. Serve on your favorite salad.

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