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Old Man River is open for the season and giving back to WNY frontline workers

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Posted at 6:10 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 18:10:16-04

TONAWANDA, NY (WKBW) — A trademark that's iconic.

"You can't miss the whale," laughed Frank Berrafato. "Everybody knows the whale."

She's known as Wanda and she sits atop Old Man River, a summer staple in Tonawanda that's been around for more than forty years.

"It really has become a Western New York tradition," Berrafato, owner of Old Man River said. "Not only do we see families today, but we see generation after generations."

The Berrafato family has stood behind the grill since 2004 and Old Man River sits just a block down from the family's other restaurant, Mississippi Mudds.

The location, with a view of the Niagara River, is picturesque.

"This is a great, if nothing else, a destination," Berrafato said about the location.

And as the weather gets warmer, this place is back open and gearing up for their usual summer crowd. They're ready to grill up traditional favorites but they also know things will be different.

"We realize that some people are gonna be comfortable coming out and some people may not be comfortable right away," Berrafato said.

Which is why they've added safety measures like visual markers for social distancing and signs asking customers to wear face masks even outside. They also have a drive thru service for chicken and rib dinners.

"Whether it's for convenience or you're just not yet comfortable with the circumstances, we're offering a service and a menu item that everybody could enjoy," Berrafto explained.

And these dinners are doing more than just feeding families. Part of the proceeds will go to the area's frontline workers.

"We felt really strongly that we needed to give back to those front line workers and the job that they're doing," Berrafato said. "It's been absolutely tremendous, really."

Ready to serve the community that's supported them for more than four decades, Old Man River is open for the season Monday-Sunday 11am-7pm.