Next story: Stagefright
by Jennifer Mogensen
We dare you: Find a place and a job in the food industry that Bill Logue hasn't worked
Chances are that if you have dined or had a drink in Buffalo’s culinary crock-pot in the last four decades, you’ve seen him. He may have mixed your cocktail, served your dinner, or even re-set your table as you were walking out the door.
In the often incestuous, intricate jigsaw puzzle of Buffalo’s dynamically evolving restaurant scene, Bill Logue has always been there. You just need to know where to look.
Born in Kenmore, Logue was number seven of eight children in an Irish Catholic family. His father worked for the United States Postal Service while his mother stayed home and raised their brood. When the children were old enough, she ventured out into the workforce and Logue tagged along. Mrs. Logue started working at a liquor store in North Buffalo, Hertel Beverage.
Logue’s first job in the restaurant arena was at Mulligan’s on Hertel. Following in his sister Mary’s footsteps—she was already a waitress at Mulligan’s—he started as a busboy and a barback at the age of 16. He attended high school by day and worked weekends. When he turned 18 he jumped behind the bar and started mixing drinks. Things really began to flow for him.
Mulligan’s was the place to be and be seen in the 1970s. “It was the halcyon days of disco,” Logue says in somewhat fond remembrance. Mulligan’s was also where he began to make the contacts and connections that would carry him on his rollercoaster ride in the restaurant world.
Pretty soon his younger brother Joe joined the staff, and his mother came on board as a secretary for the club. Mulligan’s had become a family affair for the Logues. It wasn’t the last time they would team up to take on a restaurant challenge.
In 1981, Logue moved to Houston, Texas, with a friend to try his luck in the Lone Star state. An oil boom was on and he was looking to cash in. He worked at both Rosie O’Grady’s Irish Pub and David’s Brasserie. He stuck it out for nearly three years before returning home.
He wasn’t out of work for long. One of the contacts he’d made back in his Mulligan’s days, Don Warfe, had purchased a restaurant called Just Pasta and eagerly brought Logue on board. Not only did Warfe welcome Logue to work at his eatery, he also put Logue’s siblings Mary, Jane, and Joe on the payroll. It was a Logue restaurant reunion.
Looking to supplement his income, in 1984 Logue took on a second job working the lunch shift at Oliver’s (2095 Delaware Avenue). “It was the go-go ’80s,” he says, and he certainly was going places. In 1988, he said goodbye to both Just Pasta and Oliver’s and jumped on the Bijou bandwagon. The Bijou Grille (643 Main Street) was his first foray into management. It didn’t last long. A year later he was knocking on the door of Just Pasta again, and they gladly took him back.
While waiting tables and looking for more opportunities, Logue was fortunate enough catch the eye of a restaurant regular. His basic wine skills and knowledge landed him a job as a sales representative for Italian and French Wine Co. The job was short-lived, however, and in 1992 he joined owner Mark Supples and began waiting tables at Mother’s (33 Virginia Place). But he had barely memorized the menu before he was whisked away to yet another downtown establishment by John Biaco, whom he’d met while working at Mother’s.
“He took a major shine to me,” says Logue. Within a few months, Logue was opening manager at Biac’s World Bistro. That lasted a year.
In August 1993, he turned in his waiter’s apron and donned the cap of wine manager for a large liquor distributor, Mullen and Gunn, which would eventually be taken over by Eber Brothers distributors. He worked with the company until 2007. It was the longest continuous job he had ever held.
“It was quite a feather in my cap,” jokes Logue. “It was like ‘Look at me, I can hold down a job!’”
That year was life-altering year for him. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He went through six months of radiation to fight off the deadly disease, and he did. “I never missed one day of work,” he says. “I have always been very proud of that fact.”
He also didn’t miss a day when the cancer came back in 1997; this time it took eight months of chemotherapy to knock it out of him. To this day, it has not returned and Logue remains cancer-free.
In 2007 Eber Brothers shut down operations and Logue found himself out of work. It didn’t take long for Lauber, another wine distributer, to grab him. He had made a name for himself in the business of selling wine. Unfortunately, Lauber, a much smaller company than Eber, didn’t quite pay the bills. Once again, Logue was on the prowl.
He was welcomed back to Oliver’s with open arms and handed back his well-worn apron. He had returned to waiting tables and was quite happy about it. “I just realized that I was very good at [taking care of customers],” he says.
He still loved his wine, though and, for a short period of time in 2009 he worked for a small distributor, Sherbrooke Cellars. But the money wasn’t there.
In February 2011, while still working at Oliver’s, he was hired as a sales consultant for City Wine Merchant (715 Main Street). At the Wine Merchant he was put in charge of new business development and is currently working to establish wine classes and tastings that are open to the public.
As if his resume and his days weren’t full enough, occasionally he finds himself filling as a banquet server for Amy McCarthy, owner of Current Catering (currentcateringbuffalo.com), on large or last-minute catering events.
Logue currently resides in Buffalo with his wife Pam, whom he met while working at Oliver’s in 1984, and their children, Eliza and Liam. But don’t look for him there. He’s rarely home.
Sometimes Logue can’t even locate himself amongst the hospitality hodgepodge that is his daily life.
“Even I don’t know where I am half the time,” he says with a sly smile.
Hint: Look for him at Oliver’s on Sunday nights and ask him about their Sunday night, deep-discount wine specials. Logue will steer, or rather pour, you in the right direction.blog comments powered by Disqus
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