Owner Peter Del Cotto and restaurant manager Sarah Heckathorn stand outside of The Woodshed on Boston State Road.
After traveling extensively through Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the U.S. while serving in the Air Force for nine years, Peter Del Cotto learned a lot about the ways different cultures cook. With a passion for food and cooking, and a unique, hands-on culinary education, Del Cotto decided to open his own restaurant, The Woodshed, blending traditional American fare with the influences he garnered around the world.
“I have several influences,” he said, rifling off a list of countries he’s taken culinary cues from. “Those influences are showing up, and will continue to show up in our menu and our cooking methods.”
Del Cotto opened The Woodshed, located at 8038 Boston State Road, in June, and has been impressed with the reception his brand of cooking has received from around the area, including as far away as Lockport.
“The community has been very supportive of the restaurant,” he said. “We see a good base of Hamburg and Boston residents, as well as other areas.”
The restaurant specializes in barbecue, but offers a variety of items, including pastas, family-style dinners and an old Buffalo stand-by.
“We have a fish fry on Fridays,” he said. “The Western New York staple.”
The idea of The Woodshed is to create a diverse, casual atmosphere, Del Cotto said.
“We have the diverse menu, that appeals to most of the folks here in the Boston and Hamburg area,” he said, “and it’s casual. Folks can bring their families and enjoy their meal.”
Barbecue may be The Woodsheds core product, but the idea is to provide more options than just the barbecue.
“We want to create something special,” Del Cotto said. “We know we can’t be all things to all people, but we do want to create some diversity out there.”
The key to good food, Del Cotto said, is the ingredients.
“We use high quality ingredients, fresh ingredients,” he said. “We make everything of a higher quality.”
One menu item where Del Cotto’s influences show up is the Buffalo chicken spring roll the restaurant serves from time-to-time.
“It’s kind of putting our spin on a Western New York favorite and slamming it into an Asian theme,” he said.
Being part of the community is important for the restaurant, Del Cotto said. He’d like The Woodshed to be a resource to the area.
“We hope to be well established within the community,” he said. “Our goal here is to be a resource for different events, catering to different groups and we also provide our services off-site.”
As part of Del Cotto’s goal to make the restaurant a part of the community, the restaurant takes all manner of feedback from customers, said restaurant manager Sarah Heckathorn.
“We accept negative feedback, positive feedback, anything from the community,” she said.
Del Cotto would eventually like to branch out once the restaurant is established to the rest of the Southtowns, the Northtowns and possibly the city.
Being a restaurant owner is tough work, and despite how hard everyone says it is, you really don’t know until you’re in it, Del Cotto said.
“Long hours, budgetary constraints that you have to work with, hidden costs that can creep up at any moment that you have to have a reserve for,” he said listing the problems restaurant owners deal with. “But at the end of the day, when you walk out on the floor and a customer says, ‘hey, this is really good stuff, and we’ll be back,’ it makes it all worth while. The long hours, the aching feet, the sore back, all of that stuff goes away.”