1948 - 1965

Otmen's Restaurant

An overhead shot of a street with cars parked and driving. Buildings are on either side of the road.
Otmen's is pictured on the center right side of this image, under the marquee.

Whereas the previous tenant at 47 Front Street, the Ottman Brothers sausage shop, gained fame for their white hots, musicians Sammy Proff and Andy Laplaca took “white hot” into a new direction when they turned the historic landmark of regional hot dogs into a jazz club in 1948. Late English professor and WXXI broadcast producer Robert Koch remembered Otmen’s in the late forties and mid-fifties as “pulsat[ing] with swing era small combo sounds” that effectively drew a crowd in the narrow, cramped building. “The soul of that sound,” Koch continued, “was Herbie Brock,” whose Art Tatum-inspired piano technique created “often the best jazz we’d heard.” However, Brock left Rochester’s jazz scene for Miami’s in the 50s, and thereafter, the once-bustling Front Street commenced its steady decline. In 1965, urban renewal exchanged much of the hot dog-slinging, jazz-singing neighborhood for Charles Carroll Park. 

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