Owner, Marketing & Design
Connie Roberts, owner and creator of the Dobutsu brand identity and marketing collateral, was raised in Rochester, NY and has always had an eye for fine detail. A bachelor’s degree in fine arts and years of marketing coordination and graphic design experience has given her a varied cache of expertise with which to bring the vision to life, first with Toutant and now, Dobutsu. Her style is simple and modern, unassuming and clean. Connie’s concentration on fluid design with coherence is felt uniformly throughout both project’s many facets.
Connie’s mastery of color palettes has also aided in the assistance of the design plan for Dobutsu. Her style touches and colorful interjections can be found throughout the interior design, welcoming guests with her comfortable yet thoughtful inspiration. Connie is also responsible for the restaurant’s online presence, menu layout design, and internal marketing.
James Roberts was raised amidst Louisiana’s coastal shrimping and fishing community, and began cooking in restaurants at a young age. Over the course of his early career, he discovered a passion for the food, the kitchen brigade system, and great service. Roberts traveled the country, augmenting his training, honing his skill set, learning different regional cuisines, and developing a strong management style, ultimately earning a culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University and graduating at the top of his class.
After twenty successful years in the industry, and now with Toutant and Dobutsu, Roberts is enjoying building incredible teams of talented individuals, empowering them to realize their full potential, and continuing to inspire himself and the people around him to higher levels of discipline, execution and hospitality. Again with this latest project, his cooking abilities, culinary vision, and commitment to excellent service can be utilized to their potential. His love of the region and city, and the continued support of the local community, has reaffirmed that Buffalo is the perfect place to have their lifelong dream realized.
general manager, Sommelier
Jessica Railey is our General Manager and Wine Director for both Toutant and our sister restaurant, Dobutsu. She has worked in the restaurant industry for 8 years, with experience in every aspect of front of the house. On top of managing day-to-day operations and maintaining the practice of top-notch, humble service at Toutant, Jessica became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers in May 2017, and she continues to learn about wine everyday and share that knowledge with our staff and guests. She has a fondness for off-the-beaten-path white grape varietals and anything from the Rhone Valley. She hopes to show Buffalo that wine can be fun, accessible, and can pair with nearly every type of cuisine. Jessica has honed her leadership styles throughout her years of experience, and has made staff growth, education and the highest levels of service at the core of what she believes and practices. She is driven by a true passion for hospitality, education, a love of food and wine, and her goal is to make sure guests always leave with full bellies and big smiles.
A born and bred buffalo native, Dustin Swaciak has spent most of his young career in the private club industry, locally under the tutelage of Chef James Roberts at The Park Country Club, and nationally at world class resort properties in Fort Myers, Florida and Houston, Texas. Upon returning to Buffalo, Dustin sought to bolster his restaurant experience. Taking positions in some of the area’s top establishments in both culinary and service capacities, his professional growth has persevered all levels of responsibility, ultimately developing an effective peer based management style. Dustin has had a passion for cooking from a very young age, staking his claim to the culinary profession to his first cooking influence, his grandmother, while making pierogies and family specialities as child.
Dustin’s drive and dedication, his commitment to quality, and his expanding business acumen has made him an ideal choice for the Dobutsu Sous Chef Position. Always with an eye for personal and professional growth, we are excited to have him as a part of our management team.
A lifelong Buffalo native, Brett's beverage career consists of experience in many of the city's most prominent restaurants and respected beverage programs. An opening team veteran of Toutant, Brett has had the fortune to work closely alongside incredible beverage mentors in Jeffery Yannuzzi and again with Jill Hutnyan, absorbing and mastering the skills and drive that has honed his personal creativity, discipline and beverage business acumen.
Brett's love of service and hospitality has insisted that he develop a deep understanding of his craft, excelling at making guests feel welcome, and displaying a consistency of professionalism beyond his years.
In his new role as the Beverage Manager of Dobutsu, he will strive to build a team of talented individuals that will reflect his aspiration of constant refinement and evolution, while maintaining a casual, simple approach to quality and value. His vision for the beverage offerings at Dobutsu is as varied as the cuisine, challenged by the ability to pair some of the world's most delicious and delicate foods with cocktails of the same pedigree.
Adam Smith is a Niagara Falls and Buffalo native with a flair for entertaining and a love of hospitality at its highest levels. His career in the food and beverage industry has taken him all over the country, honing his craft in beverage service and promotions in major markets before returning to his hometown and family in Buffalo. Through Adam’s years of experience in some of the area’s finest establishments, he has demonstrated a versatility in both supervisory roles and dedicated customer service.
The culmination of this hard knocks industry education has brought him to his new role as the Assistant Manager of both Toutant and Dobutsu. Joining Toutant in early 2018, his work ethic, humble professionalism, and team first attitude has earned him considerable respect amongst his peers. Additionally, a key component of the Dobutsu opening team, Adam has demonstrated the ability to effortlessly work between the two busy restaurants, maintaining the high standards of both simultaneously.
We are excited to have Adam as a new member of our management team, and look forward to adding his experience and visions to both programs, complementing the reputations we have built in and around the city for quality, high levels of service and casual welcoming hospitality.