Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Journey’s End seeks mentors for refugees

Journey’s End has launched the Refugee Asylee Mentoring Program, to help refugees make connections within the Buffalo area, particularly the West Side, says Program Director Paige Kelschenbach. The program will pair refugees with mentors, who will act as life coaches, introducing and guiding them through life in America.  The program is funded by a state grant for five years. After that the program will look to renew and expand, says Kelschenbach.  The program is accepting mentor applications.  Journey’s End offices are located at 2495 Main St. By Gabrielle Kime and Conner Wilson

Monday, November 18, 2019

Campus Walk establishes safety measures

SUNY Buffalo State student Nicole Stewart signs into a guest log at Campus Walk Apartments while the security guard Michelle Howell protects the front entrance of the building. New security measures were put in place in September for the two buildings,  
140 Rees St. Campus Walk made headlines in September when shots were fired during a fight outside the complex. More recently, robberies on the property have left residents feeling unsafe.  Robert Wombles, assistant general manager, made several safety adjustments to the property. “Guests now have to sign in once the office is closed for the day. Security officers are posted at exits in both buildings,” Wombles said. Campus Walk also has an after-hours emergency hotline.  By Jasmine Huntley and Bianca Moise

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Salvation Army to host Thanksgiving dinner

              With Thanksgiving just around the corner, The Salvation Army, is doing its part in providing dinners on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, for people who may not have anywhere to go.
             The day will begin with a worship service at 10:30 a.m. prior to the dinner, and food will be served at noon until 1:30 p.m. The events will take place at its main location, 960 Main St.
              Laurie Krajna, who is the development director for the Western New York region, has been organizing Thanksgiving dinner for the Salvation Army for over 40 years.
               They plan on serving over 200 dinners throughout the day, many to those who are homeless and would like to have fellowship with them.
              “Lots of new people come in each year to be part of our mission but also many of the same, some who are homeless, and a lot come who don’t have family or friends in town to share it with,” Krajna said.
               More than 50 volunteers come out every year and help on this day to serve the people, but the Salvation Army is always looking for more.
               “Most of the people that volunteer come in only on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we need people to reach out 365 days of the year to reach our mission. It is important to us that we give back and provide food and shelter to the one’s in need,” Krajna said.
                 Krajna has seen progress throughout the years during the holiday season, with more people willing to donate their time and give to others. By Christian Gaffney and John Propis

Albright art truck stops at Belle Center

The Albright-Knox Art Truck recently visited The Belle Center, 104 Maryland St., and Program Coordinator Vicente Rondon, led a  button-making activity with the children there. The Albright-Knox instituted its new Art Truck in October, “to bring art activities to different community centers in Buffalo, but not just Buffalo, but to all eight counties,” Rondon said. This is a free program and can be accessed by request form on the Albright-Knox website. By Bethany Clancy and Kristina DiBlasio

Monday, November 11, 2019

Sponge candy season coming up for Watson’s

Mike Watson runs the 738 Elmwood Ave. location of Watson’s Chocolates, a fourth-generation business that has been in Western New York for over 70 years. Watson's makes sponge candy by hand, from the beating of ingredients, to letting it rise, to slicing it and finally coating it with chocolate.  With the holiday season approaching, Watson says this month begins the company's busiest time of the year, with sponge candy in demand through to Easter. By Christian Gaffney and John Propis

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sweet_ness 7 Café owner expecting to sell

Sweet_ness 7 Cafe owner Prish Moran expects to sell the long-time gathering place on Lafayette Avenue and Grant Street.
By Tommy Corsi and Ryan Williams 
           On the corner of Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue, a grand brick building is glowing with the artistic mural below the blue awning that symbolizes the Sweet_ness 7 Café. To pull open the ornate front door reveals the home-style, old-fashioned space filled with the scent of coffee brewing and food sizzling on the flat-top behind the counters.
           The owner of Sweet_ness 7 cafe and The Tabernacle, Prish Moran, is looking to sell the building that has been the longtime home of her two businesses.
           Moran will continue to own both businesses and the current management will still carry out the day-to-day operations as usual until any further progress is made in terms of a sale. They hope to keep business running smoothly throughout the course of the sale when one is made.
           Moran opened the cafe in 2008 within the Victorian-era building that she purchased and successfully restored it to its now current artistic state that it has become known for today.
           The renovated building in its current state represents the creation that Moran had envisioned 12 years ago when she purchased the building.
           While 220 Grant St. is home to the Sweet_ness 7 Café, the building accommodates more than just coffee lovers and the early-morning crowds.
           “It is kind of like a conglomerate. The cafe has always been the anchor point for everything, but the storefronts and the apartments upstairs add to it all,” Steven Zaionz, café general manager, said.

Steven Zaionz says it's business as usual ahead of the possible sale of the cafe.
           The building includes renovated apartments and storefronts along with the Tabernacle and the Sweet_ness 7 café for which it is most knownThe renovations included turning office spaces upstairs into apartments, and completely restoring the area that is now known as the Tabernacle, the event space next door to the cafe.
           “I hesitate to say much about the selling of the place, because we don’t really know much at this point,” Zaionz said. “I think (Moran) is just ready to move on from the business side of things, step back and spend more time with her family."
           There has been no public discussion of when the change of ownership is planned to occur, and at this time no potential buyers have even been identified. It has only just recently been discovered that Moran now has plans to sell the building at some point in the future.
           It is said that Moran hopes to sell the building along with her business to someone who will continue to carry on the legacy of her empire and continue to serve the community in a similar fashion as she has throughout the years.
           The cafe can be seen as what was the beginning of a movement that brought a flux of businesses to the Grant Street area.
           “After Prish opened this spot up you really saw other people start taking an interest in the neighborhood and starting their own small businesses around this area,” Zaionz said.
           The café has become a relied-upon neighborhood gathering place, so regulars such as Alaysa Dale, a Virginia Street resident, are hopeful that new owners will continue to operate it as it has been.

 Dale, on her impressions of Sweet_ness 7:

           “She has owned the spot for as long as I have been going there, which has been over the past four or five years,” Dale said. “The place is pretty unique because of the focus from around this area she had put into it. But I have faith she will keep it in good hands.”  


Allen St. repairs a headache to businesses

Siobhan Taylor, store owner of Ms. Eye Candy Boutique, stands at her storefront at 85 Allen St. with construction underway behind her. Taylor says that businesses such as hers on Allen Street have lost not only foot traffic, but have minimal space to park because of the construction to widen the street. “It’s just been a deterrent so we're not getting the drive through traffic,” Taylor said. The construction has been going on since early March and it is expected to finish up in summer of next year. By Gabrielle Kime and Conner Wilson

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Kleinhans Music Hall Turns 80 in Fall 2020

            World-renowned Kleinhans Music Hall is getting ready to celebrate 80 years of hosting concerts and other events in Buffalo next fall. 
         The venue, which was built thanks to the patronage of Edward and Mary Seaton Kleinhans, was officially opened on Oct. 12, 1940 with a performance by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO).
         Ever since the official opening of the hall, the venue has served as the BPO’s home on 3 Symphony Circle.
          "The fact that we have an actual home base for the BPO and that fact we have a concert hall available to us for the entire season is huge,” says Rachael Nakoski, assistant manager of patron services for the BPO. “Most orchestras don’t have a home base; they work out of a lot of different venues. That fact we get to utilize the space pretty much as we want, we’re very, very grateful for that.”
          There is no bad seat in the house to listen a performance, according to Nakoski, and musicians both locally and internationally speak highly in concurrence of its acoustics as well.
           Prominent national figures such as Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave  speeches in the hall.
           Concerts and events for local performing arts organizations, college and high school graduation ceremonies and even weddings are held at the hall throughout the year.
            In 1989, Kleinhans was dedicated as a National Historical Landmark, which is the highest honor any building in the United States can receive. By Francis Boeck and Emmanuel Rodriguez

Monday, October 28, 2019

G&L puts carpets under feet for 75 years

Paul Murphy, third generation owner of G&L Flooring located at 200 Grant St., says the family has managed to compete with bigger businesses for 75 years through good customer service and quality products. They plan on keeping the same mentality and providing for the people of the West Side. By Christian Gaffney and John Propis

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Ice boom waiting for drop in lake temps

            The Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom, a device designed to control ice buildup in the Niagara River, is set to go in the water this year on Dec. 16 or when the water temperature reaches 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
            The ice boom is a series of steel pontoons strung together by steel cables, said Keith Koralewski, chief of water management at the Army Corps of Engineers. 
            “The boom reduces the risk that ice blockages will interfere with reducing hydropower production and reduces ice damage to shoreline property,” Koralewski said.
            The ice boom was created 55 years ago to reduce the amount of ice passing between Lake Erie and the Niagara River. 
            When in position, the 8,800 foot ice boom reaches across the outlet of Lake Erie, near the water intake of the city of Buffalo.
            The International Niagara Board of Control installs, operates, and removes of the ice boom.  The Army Corps performs the day-to-day operations of the ice boom.
            The boom is removed by April 1 of each year, unless there is more than 250 square miles of ice remaining in the eastern end of Lake Erie. By Gabrielle Kime and Conner Wilson

Friday, October 25, 2019

Voting begins Oct. 26 in election 2019

            New York State will be offering early voting for the first time in its history this year for the general election.
            Between Oct. 26 and Nov. 3 registered voters will be able to cast an early vote before Election Day. Throughout the week stations will be open from noon to 9 p.m., and on the weekends from noon to 6 p.m.
            “The idea was that if people have more options, they would turn out in greater numbers,” DerekMurphy, communications director for the Erie County Board of Elections said. “There is no question that having ten days in total to vote, with the nine early days and the election day itself, will make it easier for people to juggle their schedules.”
            West Side registered voters can visit any of the designated early polling stations in Erie County. The Belle Center, 102 Maryland St., and the Salvation Army, 187 Grant St., are the two early polling stations on the West Side.   
            Election Day, Nov. 5, will be the official day for voting when voters will be able to participate from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. On the actual Election Day voters will be limited to their usual voting location based on their address, Murphy said.
            Supreme Court Justice, County Executive, Buffalo Comptroller and the Niagara District City Common Council are among the offices that will be on the ballot for West Side voters.
            A regional map of the districts can be found here, and the candidates running for each position here. By Thomas Corsi and Ryan Williams

Thursday, October 24, 2019

W.S. Bazaar to head to bigger quarters

Westminster Economic Development Initiative Community Development Director Bob Doyle (left) orders food from Alain Rodriguez, co-owner of Kiosko Latino in the West Side Bazaar. WEDI recently announced that they’ve bought a larger property at 1432 Niagara St. to serve as a new site for the business incubator. WEDI plans to move the Bazaar to the new location, which is one mile away from the current spot on 25 Grant St., by spring 2021. By Francis Boeck and Manny Rodriguez

Thursday, October 17, 2019

WEDI launches program for refugee students

Westminster Economic Development Initiative has begun a workforce development and career exploration program to help refugee students.
            The program, called Launch, kicked off on Oct. 9. It  will assist refugee students in ninth grade through 12th grade with computer skills, financial literacy, job readiness training and college prep.
“We are launching our students into their future,” Education Director Courtney Yonce said.
The program will be held from 4:05 to 6:30 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays Lafayette High School.
Launch targets students who are English language learners. Students will get the opportunity to develop organizational skills, studying techniques, and writing clear and well-formed essays.
Homework help is also provided.
WEDI has partnered with various local organizations such as Mission: Ignite Powered by Computers for Children, helping students learn the basic fundamentals of Microsoft Office.
“Students will be able to take home a computer at the end of the program. Through Sprint students receive free Wi-Fi for the four years they are in high school,” Yonce said.
The business incubator The Foundry is offering opportunities for students to explore STEM careers as a part of the program.
“Our main goal is to help students graduate high school, but also to set them up on the right path for their career goals,” Yonce said. 
Clients of WEDI will also participate in this program by introducing students to successful entrepreneurs and mentors. 
            WEDI has collaborated with Buffalo Public Schools to ensure that students receive a hot meal after school.  By Bianca Moise and Jasmine Huntley

Monday, October 14, 2019

Vinyl coming ‘round again on the West Side

By Christian Gaffney and John Propis  
     Vinyl records may seem like a relic from the past, but over the course of the last few years there has been a surge in vinyl record sales. 
     The West Side is home to two vinyl record shops, Black Dots and Revolver Records Inc., where people can collect old and new vinyl records.
      Black Dots, 368 Grant St., recently moved from its old location across the street. Co-Owners Quinn Moore and Michael Bauman believe there is a resurgence in vinyl, primarily from new interest from the college-age crowd.
       “We get people from all over the place coming to buy vinyl records,” Bauman said. “College kids seem to be the majority of it being so close to the different campuses. There definitely is a surge in vinyl, people are interested all around.” 

Quinn Moore, on the popularity of vinyl records:

        Having only been in the new building for a few months, Black Dots owners are  settling in and are continuing to make additions to improve the store. With the bar being built in the back, Black Dots hopes to attract people to come have a drink and listen to their favorite tunes.
        According to a study in Statista, vinyl records across the United States has seen a significant increase in sales. Since 2006, sales have gone from almost a million to almost 17 million in 2018.
        Revolver Records has seen its share of new customers as well. A second location was added on 831 Elmwood Ave. due to the amount of business at the  Hertel Avenue location. Revolver Records provides a sense of retro when walking through the door.  
      Longtime employee Matthew Aquiline sees this vinyl revival sticking. When asked about how he has seen it change recently, Aquiline never thought vinyl died.
      “Definitely a younger audience kind of started the vinyl revival in the past few years,” Aquiline said. “It has never really gone away, there has definitely been a lot of buyers of vinyl over the years, throughout the ‘90s  but just recently it has started coming back full force.” 
       In order to keep things fresh at Revolver Records, the owners run different promotions to keep the customers involved.
             “At the shop we have a thing we do fairly often, it's kind of a vinyl record monthly club where we pick an album that is kind of related to Buffalo in way, we have someone who has worked or played on the album come into the shop that comes in and talks about their record,” Aquiline said.
             Revolver Records allows customers to sell their old or new records to them, which helps bring in a wide variety of people.
            “Our audience definitely has a mix of customers, we have a lot of older people that have been coming in for years, and obviously a lot of new people who are just getting into to record collecting,” Aquiline said.
               With the holiday season approaching, both Black Dots’ and Revolver Records’  busiest time of the year is right around the corner. Each say they see an increase in sales, which helps them during the down time throughout the spring and summer.   

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Terrace to upgrade patio in time for fall

Dawn Marchant-Madden, head hostess at The Terrace of Delaware Park, is standing in what will soon be a heated and enclosed patio. Marchant-Madden is excited for the overhead heaters and wraparound enclosure to be added to the lounge area by the end of November. She hopes the unique viewing experience of Hoyt Lake will attract more people during the fall and winter seasons. By Tommy Corsi and Ryan Williams

Delivery apps drive business for pizzerias

LaNova Pizzeria Assistant Manager Rob Santiago juggles

By Gabrielle Kime and Conner Wilson         
            It’s Sunday and the Buffalo Bills game starts in a few hours, to beat the rush you go to the pizza shop at 10 a.m. when it opens.  When you walk in, you see the kitchen is lined with tickets, the phones are ringing off the hook, pizza dough tossed frantically in the air, pepperoni and marinara is flying.
            Bills gamedays have always been busy for local pizzerias, but with the evolution of third-party delivery services, they’ve become more hectic.
            There’s Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, Slice, UberEats, and surely more to come. With the creation of these apps, food delivery has drastically changed.
            In some areas, these apps aren’t yet up and running, but on the West Side, they are changing the food ordering and delivery culture.
            Over the past couple of years, local restaurants have seen an increase in sales with the creation of these food delivery apps. With all of these different delivery options, restaurants can reach customers they never could before, said Gina DiLaura, assistant manager of LaNova Pizzeria, 371 W. Ferry St. 
            “It’s increased it, in the area,” DiLaura said. “We’re such a busy restaurant here that our delivery zone is kind of limited. So Doordash, Postmates will deliver to places we usually don’t as far as like the Southtowns, Tonawanda, places like that.”
            Online delivery services don’t only provide the consumer with another ordering method but expand the delivery radius beyond the restaurant’s original borders. This helps small restaurants to reach beyond the West Side.
            “In the past year, we’ve probably seen a 30% increase in sales and you can credit it to Doordash,” Dilaura said.
            According to Upserve Restaurant Insider, 60% of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week.  About 31% say that they use third-party delivery services at least twice a week.            
            Allentown Pizza, 94 Elmwood Ave., utilizes third-party delivery services. Store Supervisor Nikki Moore said the business has expanded its customer thanks to modern delivery services.
            “Our restaurant only delivers within two miles in Allentown,” Moore said. “So anybody outside of that who wants can order so that’s great.”
            A greater delivery radius has also resulted in a greater income for establishments on the West Side.
             With these new sources of delivery available, businesses are facing new challenges that they hadn’t before. With the ability to reach more customers, the amount of work to fulfill these orders can be overwhelming.
            Orders used to all come from one place: over the phone onto a pen and paper. Now, restaurants have to juggle several accounts and screens relaying orders from multiple apps.

LaNova Assistant Manager Gina Dilaura on receiving online orders:

            “It does get a little stressful within the kitchen since you have all these tablets you have to filter through lots of different orders so it does get stressful in the kitchen to have so much stuff going on,” Moore said.
Another pizza goes out the door at LaNova
            A concern businesses have with third-party delivery apps is handling and keeping the quality of food. When an online delivery sends a driver, the restaurant has to trust that the driver will handle the food with care and deliver in a timely fashion.
            “When the drivers show up, we have to make sure they don’t turn the pizza sideways,” Moore said. “They don’t understand, they don’t have the training so they’ll just ruin the pizzas. We have to keep an eye on them all the time.”
            La Nova Pizzeria is in the heart of the West Side. DiLaura said the West Side location sees a lot more business than the Williamsville location. They credit third-party delivery services to what makes the region unique and profitable.
            “In the West Side, you know, you’re in the middle of it,” DiLaura said. “I think we receive more orders here, but I think it’s because there are so many more people on the West Side, more population in this area.”


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Gather & Game brings new vibe to Grant St.

            Westside Stories Used Books, 205 Grant St., has added a second location across Grant Street, called Gather & Game, to tap into the neighborhood’s interest in board and other games. 
            The addition at 212 Grant St. is expected to bring in more business and add a new gaming type atmosphere to the block
            Due to heavy inventory of magic cards and games at the bookstore, owner Joe Petri has always had the plans of opening something like this to accommodate his customers.
            “How often does the space across the street from my job open up, we felt we would’ve been kicking ourselves for years if we didn’t roll the dice now,” Petri said.
              In order to differentiate the gaming location from other game shops around the area, Petri’s idea was to do something similar to the Elmwood area and make it café-style and lean into the board game theme.
              In an era consumed with technology where people can literally play games at the palms of their hands, Gather & Game goes beyond that. Here, you can learn how to play board games, some of which you may have never heard of like “Clank!” “King of Tokyo” “Carcassonne” and many more.
              Petri wanted to do something for the neighborhood when he opened the bookstore in 2011.. Only living a couple blocks away and being home with his two children he was able to make it work. His focus will now be continuing to improve the new place across the street. By Christian Gaffney and John Propis

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Lucchinos add to Elmwood Ave. properties

By Francis Boeck and Manny Rodriguez
           Walking down the Elmwood strip, one of the premier neighborhoods in the city of Buffalo, one is bound to see the impact of Ron Lucchino.
            The West Side native, who is the founder of the well-known Elmwood Taco & Subs restaurant, has slowly taken over much of the block while providing the Elmwood Village with an “alternative to traditional fast food.” (
            In late August, Lucchino and his family expanded their footprint on the block buying 929 Elmwood Ave. It is the home of Nine29 restaurant, which is run by brothers Peter and Johnathan Eid.
            The new addition means the family’s holdings extend from 937 Elmwood Ave. to 925 Elmwood Ave.
            “It’s an exciting time for us,” said Mike Lucchino, Ron’s son and the current manager of operations at Elmwood Taco & Subs. “I’m the second generation. Over the years we’ve been continuing to acquire property down the street. This is our neighborhood. We all live in the village. We use the money that we earn through the Elmwood Taco & Subs and reinvest it in the Elmwood Village.”

Mike Luchinno, on his family's dedicated to the Elmwood Village:

            Many believe Lucchino and the properties he owns are part of a mini-renaissance that this section of the village has been going through.
            “I would say about 20 years ago the tilt of the neighborhood switched to here from further down,” said Johnathan Welch, owner of neighboring Talking Leaves Book Store. “For a long time, the area closer to Children’s Hospital was more the power area of the Elmwood Strip. This area in part because of the farmers market and partly because of the retail area is more the center of the neighborhood.”
            For some, one group owning five conjoining properties could be a cause for concern, especially in the Elmwood Village, where residents are committed to keeping the character and landscape of the neighborhood.
            The residents championed the GreenCode, an ordinance signed into law in 2017 that overhauled the city’s zoning laws, and are now using it to fight big developers, like LP Ciminelli and Carl Paladino from building high-rises.
            Welch feels unsure about the Lucchinos owning half of the block and hopes that if they have any plans to drastically change the outlook, they’ll consult with the neighborhood first.
“I’m concerned about it when anybody buys up a lot of property like that,” Welch said. “There’s so much development going in here that is problematic. Obviously having that large of a footprint gives them the possibility to do something we might not like or goes against the Green Code. But until that happens, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
            Councilmember Joel P. Feroleto, who serves the Delaware District, sees those concerns but believes that most residents trust the Lucchinos because of their history on the block.
            “I think people were happy to see that it was purchased by a local person who has a history on Elmwood Avenue, and it wasn’t an entire block purchased by an out-of-town developer,” Feroleto said. “I think people are comforted that it’s a local person.”
            Elmwood Taco & Subs is a classic family-owned business. Ron’s wife, Barbara, ran the books and Mike said he started working on the weekends at 13-years-old.
            According to Mike, his father is “starting to step back” to allow him and his sister Jackie  to take over the business.
            Family businesses like this are one of the reasons the northern end of Elmwood has become one of the most prominent sections of the business strip.
            “I think owner-operated businesses and family-operated businesses make Elmwood such a success,” Feroleto said. “To have the owners care about the business makes a difference.”