If you’re looking to upgrade from a Charlie Brown's to a steakhouse that’s close to home, look no further.
The Wayne Steakhouse, located on Hamburg Turnpike, is the brainchild of Tony Prelvukaj and Tomasz Pogorzelski, two former employees of the renowned, top-rated Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn.
“We saw that Wayne needed a good steakhouse,” Prelvukaj said. “I was not afraid to bring something different to the community.”
The restaurant is stowed away underneath Shooter’s Billards and behind storefront Primo Pizza. Since its opening three months ago, takes 80 to 100 reservations on any given Friday or Saturday night.
“This steakhouse keeps people from spending money on gas, tolls and parking that you would spend if you wanted to get a good steak from Brooklyn or Manhattan,” Pogorzelski said.
The restaurant only serves USDA prime dry-aged beef that Prelvukaj gets from meat shops as far away as Scarsdale, Pennsylvania and Long Island. The daily freshness of the meat puts the price range at $32 to $50 per person.
“You’re paying more money, but you’re having a steak that you will really enjoy,” Prelvukaj said. “I wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning every day to go to the butcher shops that have the best quality meat.”
The steaks come out of the kitchen charred and sizzling from 1,000 degree broilers that was aged for 28 days prior to cutting. The steakhouse dry ages the meat themselves in a hanging refrigerated cooler. Aging the steak is what gives the meat its tender “melt in your mouth” appeal that you don’t really need a steak knife to cut.
Pogorzelski, who is head chef and works with four other chefs, said he enjoys the process of preparing and cutting the meat, which he did not do as much of at Peter Lugar’s, where he worked for 17 years.
“I’m more in control of everything now,” Pogorzelski said. “I was trained to do everything, so this keeps me busier.”
Wayne Steakhouse has a simple menu, offering Porterhouse steak for two, three, or four people. They offer filet mignon, rib eye, and veal or lamb chop. Their seafood selections are salmon, tuna and a catch of the day.
The most popular items include grilled calamari, French onion soup, apple strudel and, of course, the porterhouse steaks. Many of the menu items are similar to those at Peter Luger’s, and Prelvukaj plans to keep the menu limited.
“We’re following the same formula and concept as Peter Luger,” he said.
The Peter Luger steakhouse has been around for 120 years, and the restaurant, rated as top-notch by Zagat for 26 years. Many chefs, like Prelvukaj, have started their own clone restaurants, using Luger’s fame to jumpstart their own restaurants, according to the New York Times.
The restaurant has little décor – white walls and rich mahogany --- with a focal point of a large painting of a bull in the middle of the restaurant.
“It was always my dream to open my own steakhouse, something small but quality,” Prelvukaj said. “Finally my dream came true, and it is my job to make sure every customer leaves happy.”
Two years ago, Prelvukaj owned the Tuscany Room but it closed, he said, because of his lack of experience with Italian food.
Based upon Prelvukaj and Pogorzelski’s experience at Peter Luger’s, however, the staff at the Wayne Steakhouse are optimisitc about the restaurant’s future.
“I have a lot of faith in this restaurant,” Louis Pekar, a waiter with 60 years of experience in the restaurant industry, said. “I think it has a good future ahead, and Tony makes his customers the number one priority.”