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For owner, Photo City is first step toward big plans 

Daniel Nielsen has a plan to put on one of the biggest music festivals Rochester has ever seen. The first step of this plan is Photo City (543 Atlantic Avenue), the music and comedy venue that officially re-opened under his sole ownership on January 14. Nielsen wants to use Photo City as a platform to help finance the music festival, he says.

The venue was previously run by Nielsen's father, Howard, the owner of Sticky Lips, and focused solely on improv and stand-up comedy. Daniel's vision was to bring a more diverse crowd into the place by having live music, art, and burlesque in order to increase the attendance for the comedy and improv shows. It has worked. "I know right off the bat," Nielsen says, "some of the comedians were a little worried that I might just forget about comedy, but I kept telling them that the vision was to bring more people together. And the attendance has been up at every show."

Before purchasing Photo City, Nielsen got advice from some of Rochester's top venue and business owners, like Abilene's Danny Deutsch, the owners of the Bug Jar, and Armand Schaubroeck from the House of Guitars. "I've taken at least one piece of advice from all of them," Nielsen says.

Creating the mood for the venue has been a collaborative effort: his "right-hand man," Bob Canfield, helps out with sound and lighting; Nielsen worked with local musician James Von Sinn to decorate the space — the walls are filled with art and images of Betty Page and other burlesque performers — and his staff includes many local artists, which was a purposeful choice. "Working here, they will have enough money to further their businesses; if we do well, they do well," says Nielsen.

Nielsen brings in national acts, but has a soft spot in his heart for local musicians. "I love local talent more than anything," he says. "I want all of our local people to be able to use this place as their platform; their stepping stone. I'm sure that one day we'll look back and we'll have that next great artist that was here."

As for the music festival: Nielsen sees it happening as early as 2018. "I have a vision for a different sort of music festival," he says. "I see another genre of music that can be brought here as well. Why not let the younger generation percolate to the top and do something? I know they are lofty dreams, but what's life unless you have big dreams?"

Photo City is located at 543 Atlantic Avenue, and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. 288-9355; photocityimprov.com.

Quick bites

Easter Sunday falls on April 16, and there are a lot of brunch options to choose from around town. The Next Door (3220 Monroe Avenue) Easter brunch will take place 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. On the menu will be favorites like the blue crab & avocado salad, truffle mac n' cheese, along with brunch items like buttermilk pancakes with roasted apples. Call 249-4575 to make a reservation.

The Lento (274 North Goodman Street) Easter brunch starts at 9 a.m., and will feature maple-glazed beignets with cranberry compote, along with a smoked salmon benedict and Challah French toast. 271-3470 or visit lentorestaurant.com to make a reservation.

If Easter dinner is more your thing, Richardson's Canal House (1474 Marsh Road) is offering a three-course meal for $50 per person from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Call 248-5000 to make a reservation.

Did you know that everyone is Polish on Dyngus Day? The Polish-American tradition celebrates the end of Lent and the joy of Easter. Donnelly's Public House (One Water Street, Fairport) will celebrate Dyngus Day on Monday, April 17, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Traditional Polish fare will be on the menu, like the Bigos Stew, a Polish hunter's stew made with pork, kielbasa, and sauerkraut, and served over mashed potatoes. The Polska Plate features potato and cheese filled pierogis from Rochester's Pierogie Guy, with kielbasa, parsnips, and carrots.

ORBS Restaurant and Bar (758 South Avenue) will host Scratch Saturday on Saturday, April 22, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., in collaboration with Scratch Bakeshop and Fuego Coffee Roasters. Pop-tarts, cupcakes, donuts, and other sweet fare from Scratch will be paired with select roasts from Fuego.

Portico by Fabio Viviani at the del Lago Resort and Casino (1133 Route 414, Waterloo) has launched a lunch menu available from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Openings

Jetty at the Port (1000 North River Street) has opened for the season. For the month of April, it is open Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Extended hours to come.

Mochi Grill (274 North Goodman Street, Village Gate) has opened in the space previously occupied by the Plum House Café.

La Olla Criolla has opened at 1584 East Main Street. The restaurant serves traditional Puerto Rican fare.

The Towpath Grille (6 North Main Street, Fairport), formerly The Bistro at Towpath Café, will open on April 14.

Chow Hound is a food and restaurant news column. Do you have a tip? Send it to food@rochester-citynews.com.

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