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Medina restaurant pays homage to canal, while showing confidence in community’s future

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 August 2018 at 11:48 am

Photos by Tom Rivers: There isn’t an obvious sign on the storefront that says Mile 303. Look for this sign with the horse. Tim Hungerford, the owner, said he enjoys discovering bars and restaurants that aren’t always prominently marked.

MEDINA – A new restaurant in downtown Medina honors the community’s connection to the Erie Canal, while trying to “push the envelope” culturally with the food, alcohol and artwork.

Tim Hungerford opened Mile 303 on May 5 at 416 Main St. A long blue table is a sculpture designed to represent the canal. The sculpture also serves as the bar and the table tops.

Hungerford’s brother Brian, an architect in Chicago, designed the sculpture and Tim built it in a course of a year, using maple wood.

The wall facing the bar also includes a mural with a canal theme, featuring celestial horses pulling a canal boat. Even the name of the establishment, Mile 303, is connected to the canal. Medina’s mile marker by the lift bridge is 303. The canal runs 363 miles from Buffalo to Albany.

Hungerford and his wife, Teresa Misiti, bought the building five years ago and created a loft apartment for their family on the third floor. The second floor is used for their work offices.

Hungerford is a software developer and his wife has her doctorate degree and works as an environmental engineer. They have three daughters.

“We bought the building to be part of the effort to push Medina forward,” Hungerford said.

Tim Hungerford and his wife Teresa Misiti are pictured inside Mile 303 with their daughters, from left: Lou, Netta and Elsie.

As a kid Hungerford picked up cigarette butts and other trash at the Curry Building on Main Street, which is owned by his father, Roger Hungerford.

Tim has experienced his father’s commitment to Medina and Tim wants to make his own contributions to his hometown. Roger owns the Olde Pickle Factory and is working to turn the old high school into apartments and renovate the Bent’s Opera Hall. He also led the Sigma International company in Medina before selling it to Baxter in 2012.

Tim Hungerford was eager to leave Medina when he graduated at 18. After living in several major cities including New York City, Chicago and San Francisco, Hungerford wanted to come back home in 2013.

He and his wife, also a Medina native, were expecting their first child. They wanted to be close to family and contribute to downtown atmosphere and rebirth of Main Street, and bring some urban ethos.

They bought the building at 416 Main St., and set about a major transformation of the site.

Alex Shepherd of Kenmore created the mural. Hungerford said he has plans for two more murals.

The first floor at 416 Main St. had most previously been home to FastFitness, which moved to West Avenue across from the library in September 2013. The top floor hadn’t been occupied in about 70 years. The second floor hadn’t been used, except for storage, for about 30 years.

The building renovations were a major effort and involved filling 38 dumpsters holding 2 ½ tons. The items were all carried out by hand.

With Mile 303, they wanted to create a cultural experience, where customers are exposed to art while tasting “modern and fresh food on the lighter side.”

The walls have framed moss art which was created by a botanist, Elizabeth Thomas, of Buffalo. She has recently moved to Chicago.

Benjamin Pecoraro is the head chef and he prepares the meals in kitchen out in the open in front of customers. The menu has a strong focus on seasonal, organic, locally produced food and small batch artisanal spirits.

“It’s local-ingredients driven,” Hungerford said.

He has known Pecoraro for 20 years, with the two playing in bands together.

The bar side includes custom cocktails and beer from local craft to Genny Light. Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina supplies white and red wine on tap, as well as cider, in addition to a bottled wine list.

Hungerford said the menu and beers will change frequently. The restaurant and bar is open Thursday though Sunday.

For more on Mile 303, click here.

Hungerford and Misiti also have plans to open a general store next door that he wants to be “a Viddler’s in a modern format,” Hungerford said referring to the popular store in East Aurora. The Medina site will have canned alcoholic products, gifts and other items.

This shows part of the mural inside Mile 303. Hungerford believes art projects can add to Medina’s quality of life and entice more visitors to the community.

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