Jamestown Natives To Purchase Iconic Bemus Point Restaurant

Robert Cusimano, left, and Chris Olsen outside the Ye Hare 'n Hounds Inn last week in Bemus Point. The longtime friends and 1982 graduates of Jamestown High School are in the final stages of purchasing the iconic fine-dining restaurant, which has been closed since a fire broke out in May. Submitted photo

BEMUS POINT — The fate of an iconic restaurant in Bemus Point that remained in doubt following a fire in May appears to be resolved.

Jamestown natives Chris Olsen and Robert Cusimano confirmed they are in the final stages of purchasing Ye Hare ‘n Hounds Inn. The restaurant, located at 64 Lakeside Dr. in the village, has been closed since May 24 after an exhaust chimney pipe in the kitchen deteriorated and allowed heat from the broiler to get into the wall.

About 100 firefighters from a half-dozen departments battled the blaze for several hours.

Mike and Jennifer Garrett, owners of Hare ‘n Hounds, had been trying to sell the property for many years before the fire halted business. The future of the fine-dining restaurant, which first opened in 1915, had been in limbo.

However, that changed when longtime friends Olsen and Cusimano decided to purchase the property. The 1982 graduates of Jamestown High School said they are excited to re-open Hare ‘n Hounds and have recently been talking with members of the community for input.

“It’s one of those jewels of Bemus Point,” said Cusimano, who served 24 years in the U.S. Air Force and is currently an auditor with the Federal Government. “I was thinking about moving home after being away for so many years. The restaurant was always one of those places you could come home to.”

Cusimano said he was approached by Olsen with the idea of purchasing Hare ‘n Hounds. After some discussion, the pair decided to go forward with the plan and have since been seeking feedback for possible upgrades and new features.

“You could say the boys are back in town,” Olsen said. “We’ve been friends since we went to school together at Persell. We came back for our reunion and saw the revitalization is going on around here. We wanted to be part of that.”

Olsen, who is a litigation attorney and producer in Los Angeles, recalled going to the Bemus Point restaurant during “special occasions” as a child. “It was always an honor and a tradition to go there,” he said.

Cusimano, who has been living in New Orleans, said he plans to return to Chautauqua County; Olsen said he returns to the area annually and plans to be around more often as work to re-open Hare ‘n Hounds begins.

“We’re hoping to bring back some of what made Hare ‘n Hounds so special,” Olsen said. “We want to keep the best of everything and maybe add some fresh things. We’ve been talking with a lot of people about what they would like to see, including menu items and stuff like that.”

“There is a lot of brainstorming going on,” Cusimano added.

See tomorrow’s edition of The Post-Journal for the full story.