University Hots brings college classic to Main Street

A cheeseburger, macaroni salad and home fries with the works: ketchup, mustard, onions and homemade meat sauce. While this combination of seemingly random ingredients isn’t hard to identify as a classic University Hots college plate—a staple of the Geneseo late-night diet—it’s a bit more difficult to grasp that they’ve only been available on Main Street since 2010. Owner Steve Vasile opened the first U-Hots location in Buffalo after graduating from University of Buffalo in 2004 with a degree in business management.

“We thought the concept would work for Buffalo,” Vasile said. “There was nothing like that at the time. We went to college—we went to bars and we went to parties and there was no [college plate]. We thought the concept would really work well in a college town and it did.”

The original Buffalo location was almost entirely devoted to serving late night hoards of drunken college kids from 1-4 a.m. on weekends and sold mostly college plates. These western New York delicacies are Vasile’s own version of the classic Rochester “garbage plate.” A Rochester native himself, Vasile brought a bit of his hometown to Buffalo and then to Geneseo.

While Vasile opened the Buffalo store with a partner, he opened the Geneseo U-Hots location by himself after moving back to Rochester.

“[The Geneseo store] has actually done way better than I ever expected and way better than Buffalo ever did,” Vasile said.

He recently sold the Buffalo location after a nine-year run to focus on the more popular, calmer Geneseo store. Vasile added that despite being at its busiest between 1 and 3 a.m., the Geneseo U-Hots gets steady foot traffic throughout the day with students and locals alike ordering college plates as well as regular burgers and hot dogs. The menu has expanded throughout the years to include other favorites like macaroni and cheese and Nutella fried dough.

The most recent addition to U-Hots is late night delivery hours, which started last year. This semester, Vasile has added more delivery drivers to his team, enabling orders to travel from Main Street to the homes of Geneseo’s hungry students much more efficiently.

While U-Hots has been a Geneseo hub for a comparatively short time next to alumni favorites like Aunt Cookie’s Sub Shop and Mama Mia’s Pizza and Pasta, it’s likely that the restaurant will claim its place as a Main Street mainstay soon enough.

“I know I wish I had one when I was in school,” Vasile said