After two decades of serving food at Suzanne's Fine Dining in Wheatfield, the owners have closed up shop. They said they've accepted an offer from the Islamic Cultural Center of Niagara Falls.
When the building re-opens, Town Supervisor Bob Cliffe said it will be a community center and possibly a mosque as well.
Cliffe recently sat down with the potential buyer, Amid Agwa, and said he believes he'll be buying the building with his father, who formally ran the Islamic center and mosque in Niagara Falls.
"Amid wants to get into instruction,” he said. “He wants to teach young people respect, teach young people about Islam, and wants to teach them how to speak Arabic for those who wish to learn Arabic."
Plans include leasing out the restaurant, and using the banquet hall for events. They'd also take on ownership of the salon and apartment that currently sits on the property.
In their discussion, Cliffe said Agwa never mentioned using the facility as a mosque. However, as long as the group is not making any major changes to the outside or inside of the building, they're allowed to have a place of worship on commercial property without permission from the town.
The news isn't sitting well with some residents.
"I've gotten a couple of hate calls already. I've gotten calls of deep concern," said Cliffe. "'Why are we inviting these people in?' Well, we didn't invite them in. It's strictly a private transaction. It's one party selling their property to another party. The town has no say in that matter."
Dr. Philip Frusti is the principal at St. John Lutheran School, right across the street from Suzanne's restaurant. He said people should be vigilant, but not judgmental.
"We love our neighbors and care for them," said Frusti. "While you have a general group that seems to be peace-able, there is the group behind it that takes things literally from their belief system that we'll do whatever it takes to move our faith forward, even in terms of extreme things, such as terrorism."
"Let's take it for what he says,” Cliffe said. “Let's take him for his word, and keep our eyes open at the same time."
Time Warner Cable News reached out to the Islamic group several times since last Friday, but have not heard back.
The owners of Suzanne's said they expect to close on the sale in a couple of days.