Saturday, March 31, 2012

IN DEPTH: Santasiero's serves up 90 years of business

 Tradition, family values, and respect are hard to find these days. With a weakening economy and a culture shift, small businesses are finding it harder and harder to survive. However there is one business that has the secret to success. Santiesaro’s on the corner of Niagara Street and Lafayette Avenue has been running strong for 90 years and sees no ending in sight. Full story
By Pasquale Maggiore and Alexa Myers

Monday, March 26, 2012

Urban Roots draws interest in beekeeping

 On March 10, the first of two beekeeping seminars was held at Urban Roots Community Garden Center on 428 Rhode Island St.
 Catherine Herrick, an Urban Roots board member, shared her 25 years of experience with the potential beekeepers who attended the two-hour seminar.The next seminar will be on April 21 at the garden center.
 About 20 potential beekeepers filled the room during the first seminar.
 “I was only expecting 10-12 people,” said Herrick.
 The room was filled with the buzz of spring, as Herrick constantly answered the questions of people eager to start beekeeping.
  Despite her initial fears over beekeeping, Herrick has found it rewarding.
 “Being outside and being with bees, and seeing the bees in my garden is my favorite part,” said Herrick. “If my bees are happy, my garden is happy.”
 Homemade honey is the other benefit of having one’s own hive. But, that honey doesn’t always taste like the honey one would find in a grocery store.
 “My honey tastes a lot different than other honey,” said Herrick. “It has a mint flavor to it.”
 Melissa Gardener, co-owner of Five-Points Bakery, deals directly with honey producers in Appleton and knows just how honey flavors can differ depending on what the bees collect pollen from.
 “Honey tastes like what the bees are around,” said Gardener. “Blueberry honey tastes like blueberries.” By Michael Hargrave and Shayna McKie
EAGER FOR ENGLISH - Tutors at First Presbyterian Church teach refugees how to read, write, and speak English on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to visit Video by Kristina Ferris and Megan Kreps

IN DEPTH: School 30 looking up with vertical growing

The kids at School 30 decided for the first time this year to move their student-run garden from the old vacant lot that they used before, to inside the classroom. The students used a new, vertical growing trend to grow their produce. The new trend allows the students to produce a large amount, using only a few square feet of the classroom. Full story By Richard Cumpston and Mike Tellier

Monday, March 19, 2012

Small Press Book Fair turns writing to art

 Printers, poets, bookmakers and more will gather at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum for the sixth annual Buffalo Small Press Book Fair on March 24.
 The purpose of the fair, scheduled from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., is to give these independent publishers and writers the chance to collaborate and share their work with a larger audience, said Chris Fritton, the founder and organizer of the fair.
 It’s also about turning writing into art.
 “It’s indie lit so to speak, it’s all entrepreneurial, small-press publications, which is where literature and poetry makes its initial leap forward,” said Michael Basinski, curator of the University at Buffalo’s rare poetry collection.
 During the fair Basinski will hold a presentation on visual poetry, which he described as any mixture of art and verse.
 Other presentations will show attendees how to operate their own printing press, or print their own T-shirts.
 Over 100 vendors will be selling their work during the one-day event, which is free and open to the public.
 “Buffalo has had a strong independent publishing scene and underground literary scene since the ‘60s,” Fritton said. “Somehow, we're still riding that wave, people here are still doing innovative work, and they're still very attached to the idea of publishing it themselves.”
 “It’s a blast, it’s one of the biggest in the northeast,” Basinski said
 Afterward there will be a free communal dinner at Rust Belt Books, followed by a music event called “Electric City,” where writers and poets perform original music at The Vault art gallery downtown. By Michael Canfield and Jacob Tierney

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rust Belt Books hosts controversial play

 The Western New York premiere of The God of Vengeance, performed by the Brazen-Faced Varlets, opened on March 8 at Rust Belt Books, located at 202 Allen St.
 According to Artvoice, “back in 1923, The God of Vengeance, the English language version of Sholem Asch’s 1907 Yiddish play, was the first drama on Broadway to feature a lesbian love scene. The play’s producer and cast, and the theater owner were arrested on obscenity charges.“
 The storyline takes place in Poland and deals with controversial topics, including prostitution and homosexuality.
 The Brazen-Faced Varlets IS a feminist theater company and the members chose to perform The God of Vengeance because it deals with a lot of strong female roles, as well as lesbian content.
 "We picked Rust Belt because they're very open to working with starting out artists,” said Lara D. Haberberger, director and founder of Brazen-Faced Varlets. “They're very warm and welcoming and it's a nice intimate space for this so it makes people actually feel like they're in the house where the play is happening.”
 The play is being performed on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through March 23. It is open to the public but requires a $12 entry fee at the door on Fridays and Saturdays. Thursdays are pay as you can.
 "We're very lucky to be able to bring this play and we're very surprised that people have been responding so well to it,” said Haberberger. By Anna Dinger and Kevin Freiheit
LEARNING CITY FARMING - Zoe Hollomon, growing green markets director for Massachusetts Avenue Project, talks about the organization’s three-day Urban Agriculture Training that occurred from March 9 to March 11. The non-profit organization on Grant Street tries to get the youth involved in urban agriculture, while teaching them life skills and character building skills. Video by Mackenzie Clarke, Stephanie Delaunay and Cheri St. Croix

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Olmsted Conservancy begins spring cleanup

 Spring is right around the corner and the Olmsted Parks Conservancy is preparing to recover the beauty of Front Park and the three traffic circles on Richmond Avenue from winter drear.
 Eileen Martin, park foreman of circles and parkways, said the annuals will not be planted until after all threats of frost have past, taking no chances, even with Buffalo’s unusually warm winter weather. The shrubs, however, will be pruned and the perennial grasses and flowers will be trimmed. The debris from the beds and lawns will be disposed of properly. Over 2,000 plants are estimated to be plants this growing season around the three traffic circle and in Front Park, Martin said.
 The Olmsted Conservancy cares for and preserves the many landscapes designed by the founder of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted. Thomas Herrera-Mishler, president and CEO of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, said that since the restoration of these Olmsted designs, the property values on the West Side have increased and are progressively creating an enhanced quality of life.
 “People enjoy the parks and appreciate the effort the Olmsted Parks Conservancy puts into them,” said Martin. By Mackenzie Clarke, Stephanie Delaunay and Cheri St. Croix
GIFT OF FOLK MUSIC - The Buffalo Chamber Music Society presented a free concert at Kleinhans Music Hall on March 4 called A Gift to the Community, featuring Jennifer Johnson Cano, mezzo soprano. Cano, accompanied on piano by her husband, Christopher Cano, performed a program that was composed entirely of folk music repertoire in a number of different languages. Video by Anna Dinger and Kevin Freiheit

In Depth: West Side Bazaar celebrates anniversary

 Latin jazz mixed with the sounds of a busy shop as the West Side Bazaar celebrated its first anniversary on March 3. Gusts of up to 70 miles per hour couldn’t stop the event, which attracted customers throughout Western New York. It's been a profitable year for the vendors, all of whom are immigrants who sell unique, homemade goods from places like Africa and South America. The bazaar is looking to upgrade toa new facility so that it can do even more in the year to come. Full story By Michael Canfield and Jacob Tierney

Free tax services available for West Side

 With tax season well underway, West Side residents have two places they can go to get free assistance with their taxes.
 Creating Assets, Savings & Hope (CASH), located at 742 Delaware Ave., a coalition of more than 60 organizations that offer free tax services to several Buffalo communities, is one of them. Residents making $50,000 or less per year can get their refund in eight days to 15 days.
 “Yes it’s free, but it is a quality service,” said Katie Lyons, project manager of CASH. “We do try to tap into every Buffalo zip code. Even though there’s not a site at any of those agencies directly on the West Side, the service is still available to them.”
 Another free option available to taxpayers, in the community is the Second Look review at H&R Block, 282 Grant St. Second Look allows residents to get their tax returns reviewed for free by experienced tax professionals.
 We've seen quite a lot of mistakes out there, usually in the taxpayer's favor," said Michelle Loduzzette, tax professional at H&R Block.
 H&R Block often deals with reoccurring questions from tax payers.
 “Usually people want to know about different credits available to them,” said Loduzzetta. By Katie Anderson and Danielle Wayne

OUT WITH THE OLD - AmeriCorps Volunteer Stacy Lagares prepares walls at an abandoned house at 425 Normal Ave. on March 4 as part of an  effort to turn the house into a transitional living space. The facility will house young women from troubled backgrounds where they will receive job training and other life skills. Photo by Kristina Ferris and Megan Kreps

In Depth: Motor Works hoping business takes off

 Buffalo Motor Works, located on the west side at 202 Rhode Island Street, is a vehicle dealership specializing in energy efficient vehicles. As their business slowly takes off, co-owners Andre Sadoff and Dan Sciolino are struggling to realize their dream in the face of reality. (Can describe a little more here) With an office space, mechanic space and garage, the building is ideally suited for their vision. However, finding a way to engage the neighborhood and create steady business flow is harder than the two originally thought. Full story By Michael Hargrave and Shayna McKie

UFO Series lands at Betty's Restaurant

 For those who have a taste for the extra-terrestrial, there’s more than just food at Betty’s Restaurant, which is located at 370 Virginia St.
 Betty’s is featuring work by artist Mary Begley, who is showcasing her UFO Series through March 18.
 "Since we opened in 2004 we have always featured local artists," said Carroll Ann Simon, owner of Betty’s.
 Betty’s presents new artwork every two months on a rotating basis.
 “They're very supportive of the arts,” Begley said.
 Begley, a Buffalo native, earned a master's of fine arts from the University of Buffalo and has had her work appear in the area and throughout the United States.
 Her UFO Series consists of abstract drawings that deal with time and space.
 “These works began to depict space and atmosphere type themes,” Begley said. "I decided just to go with that."
 Begley said she began the UFO series in 2010, and it was based on some of her previous abstract works.
 This inspiration was enhanced by a visit to the Museum of Modern Art where she saw artwork that featured black canvas backgrounds.
 Begley said she got the idea to be featured at Betty’s when she went there one day for lunch and noticed the artwork that was posted.
 For more information on Begley’s UFO Series and upcoming events at Betty’s Restaurant, visit By Anna Dinger and Kevin Freiheit

Friday, March 16, 2012

Event to support high school art education

 Give for Greatness will be having one of its 2012 signature fund-raising events, titled Students for the Arts, on March 20.
 The event will be taking place from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Mary Seaton Room at Kleinhans Music Hall to promote youth arts education programs around the city.
 Event Coordinator Emily Accetta said she feels the event will be helpful to high school students.
 “In addition to giving high schools students, many of which attend schools that do not have art programs,” she said, “the opportunity to personally connect with professional artists in the area, we also want the festival to feature some of Western New York's notable arts and cultural organizations that have already established programs available to teen artists.”
 She also said the event will be featuring nine organizations in the Buffalo area that will give 10-minute performances or presentations at the festival. Some of the organizations involved are Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens and Sugar City.
 Over the past couple weeks, more than a dozen high school students have been meeting up with six master mentors such as artists, actors and photographers. This apprenticeship program is being done for the first time in the program's history.
 According to, the organization raised $90,000 in 2011. This money went to funding area cultural organizations to try and help the arts in the area.
By Richard Cumpston and Michael Tellier

Belle offers HIV/AIDS tests for women

 In celebration of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, The Belle Center and Alianza Latina is offering free health screenings along special beauty treatments from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., March 17 at The Buffalo United Artists Theater located at 119 W. Chippewa St. This year’s theme, Celebrate You!, is for females to recognize their inner beauty.
 Tayrin Tapia-Torres, event coordinator for the Belle Center, said she is excited for the Celebrate You! theme to show women of all ages, especially younger girls, the importance of self confidence and how to care for themselves.
 nbsp;Nursing students from D’Youville College will provide information on asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular issues as well as offer testing for asthma and high blood pressure. Tree Beauty, a non-for profit organization from Los Angeles, will be on hand to provide information about the dangers of eating disorders and promote self-awareness. The confidential HIV test will be done next door at Evergreen Health Services.
 Makeovers will be provided by local makeup artist Neisha Mua. Mua said she feels honored to have been asked to participate.
 “It’s important for young girls in the Hispanic community to be informed of the dangers associated with HIV,” Mua said.
nbsp;Representatives with MAC cosmetics will also be on hand to display various lipstick samples. Free 10-minute massages will be provided by Massage Connections, and the first 100 people will receive sample bags from Sephora. For more information on the event, call 716-852-5969. By Kristina Ferris and Megan Kreps

IN DEPTH: West Side eateries buy local to save costs

 West Side restaurants are maximizing on a crucial element to keep their businesses afloat in today’s rising gas prices - buying local. Sweetness 7 Cafe and Boomerang’s Bar & Grill continue to prosper from all the benefits buying locally can provide to keep their loyal customers coming back for more. Full story  By Elaundress Ballard and Christie Jok

Monday, March 12, 2012

Essex Pub's contest has growth potential

 With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, Mackey “Mac” Moberly, owner of Essex Street Pub, located at 6 Essex St., has developed a clever way to grow his business. 
 “This year we will host our third annual Buffalo Beard Competition on St. Patrick’s Day,” said Moberly. “A lot of people hear the concept and think it’s just the thickest beard, but it’s not.”
 Moberly said the competition is a big hit on the Essex Street Pub’s Facebook page where people are constantly updating their beard progression photos. The contest features 12 categories such as “The Hibernator,” awarded to the person with the thickest beard. The remaining specialized categories include categories such as  the weirdest beard or best handlebar mustache
 “The competition seems to get bigger every year,” said Chris Scott, a bartender who has worked at Essex Street Pub since the inception of the contest.
 The event takes place at 8 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day where winners will receive a custom plaque for their ability to withstand months of itching and scratching. 
 “Along with live Irish music,” said Moberly, “I will also serve my famous Mackey’s corned beef sandwiches.” By Jacob Becker and Edward Mazzu

Volunteers needed for after-school program

  The Concerned Ecumenical Ministry located on the corner of Lafayette and Parkdale avenues   is looking for dedicated volunteers. 
 Volunteers participate in STAR which is an after school enrichment and education program as well as a summer day program for kids in elementary and middle school. Volunteers will work with the youth on specific academic areas, play games with kids, and teach skills such as knitting, chess, and sewing. CEM volunteers must have experience with children and go through an interview process that is followed by a background check.Volunteer Coordinator Melissa Evans helps recruit volunteers and plans outside activities for the youth.
 “We have dance programs, outside speakers, and other agencies come in so students can have extracurricular activities. But not as much anymore because we don’t have as many volunteers to coordinate activities.”
 The human service agency has been around about ten years and offers programs for youth, seniors, and emergency food services for those who are in need.By distributing newsletters throughout the community and reaching out to the nearby LafayetteHigh School and School 45, the youth program is able to help those in kindergarten up to the ninth grade.
 PS 45 International School refers students to CEM. 
  “It’s a great way for the kids to participate in community service activities, they clean up neighborhoods, help in hospitals and collect bottles to raise money for outside charities,” Principal Nadia Nashir says.
 More information can be found on By Cortney Drakeford and Alana Ransom

IN DEPTH: Community prepares to celebrate diversity

 With the Taste of Diversity festival only a few months away, volunteers and vendors are gearing up for what they say will be a bigger and better event than last year. With many new changes underway, the festival’s goal still remains the same. Full story. By Ann Hendricks and Miranda Ruckdeschel
MARTIAL ARTS COME TO WEST SIDE - West Side MMA opened last month, and recently merged with West Side Boxing. Instructor Alan Rodriguez, Burmese refugee Master Aung Thein Lay and his son, Aung Naing Oo, teach several martial arts styles at the gym, including Lethwei (Burmese kickboxing), Sanshou (Chinese Kickboxing) and submission grappling. While there are several mixed martial arts gyms in the Buffalo area, West Side MMA is the only one operating exclusively on the West Side. The goal of the gym is to bring martial arts to the inner city.
West Side MMA is located at 162 West Ferry St. Classes are held Monday, Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Photo by Mike Canfield and Jacob Tierney

Gas stations suffer from higher prices

 After running the Coastal gas station at Carm and Sal’s Auto Service on Niagara Street for over 40 years, Sal Bonfante said he has seen it all—from gas shortages to the perennial rising and falling gas prices.
 This year, however, has proved to Bonfante that there is always room for the unexpected.
 “Usually the price of gas goes up around Memorial Day,” said Bonfante shaking his head. “But this year was way too early.”
 With gas prices expected to sky rocket - SP to record highs this summer, local gas station owners are bracing for the worst. Bonfante, whose station has increased four cents a gallon per week over the last several weeks, said he expects to see prices exceed five dollars - AP per gallon by mid-summer.
 “I can’t do anything about the prices,” said Bonfante. “The only way to control prices is for people to slow down on driving. When the demand is high, the prices are always going to be high.”
 Like many gas stations on the West Side, Bonfante is sitting at $3.89 per gallon, just two cents under the Buffalo average, which is currently $3.91per gallonCOMMA according to
 Across town, Pat Nemeth is preparing to lay off employees to cut down on overhead.
 “It’s the same as in 2008 when gas went up to $4.50 per gallon,” said Nemeth amid sweeping the floor of his Mobil station at the corner of Elmwood and Forest. “I’ll have to absorb the price increase and handle most of the duties myself.”
 While Nemeth’s Mobil station sits at $3.99 per gallon, he said he hasn’t noticed any change in customers’ buying habits. Bonfante, however, hasn’t had the satisfaction of filling a tank at his full-service station in over a week. By Jacob Becker and Ed Mazzu

Advertising Buffalo, one school at a time

 Renovations to Grover Cleveland High School and other area schools were highlighted in a nationwide advertising campaign by Johnson Controls Inc, a company responsible for making the 99-year-old school building energy-efficient.            
 The $1.4 billion dollar renovation project is the largest preservation initiative ever attempted in the area, said Elena Cala, special assistant to the superintendent for public relations at Buffalo Public Schools.
  “I think the scope of this Buffalo project is so huge, and the buildings are so phenomenal,” Cala said.
 Local construction company LP Ciminelli contracted Johnson Controls to make the schools energy-efficient while preserving their historic elements.Johnson Controls contacted Cala’s office with a proposal to feature their work in Buffalo as part of an ad that would run in publications across the country.
 Grover Cleveland has been closed since last summer for the renovations, so the ad featured local performing arts students in the foreground.
 “It was a really slick photo shoot,” Cala said.
 The advertisement has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Buffalo News and other publications. It will also be featured in the March issue of several business publications.
Grover Cleveland was a great choice for the ad because of its status as a historic landmark, said Paul McDonnell, Architect for the Buffalo Public Schools.
 “It’s such an icon,” he said. “I can’t imagine the lower West Side without Grover Cleveland high school.” By Mike Canfield and Jacob Tierney

FREE JAZZ MONDAYS - Members of the band What Would Mingus Do? collaborate with some visiting musicians in performing original jazz and funk tunes during a recent performance at The Allen Street Hardware Cafe,  at 245 Allen St. The cage provides free Monday night jazz performances by local musicians, starting at 8 p.m. The band consisted of Kelly Bucheger, on alto and tenor saxophone; Ron LoCurto, electric guitar; Mark Harris, seven-string electric bass and Doug Dreishpoon, on drums and percussion. Photo by Anna Dinger and Kevin Freiheit

IN DEPTH: First Buffalo church celebrates 200 years

The First Presbyterian Church is celebrating its 200-year anniversary, however the past few years have not been easy. Because of recent economic hardships, the church has had to rent out property spaces to other businesses and a school. Times are hard with a congregation of only 300 members, but the church is focusing on the future and looking for ways to draw attention recruit new members. Full story. By Kristina Ferris and Megan Kreps

Patoja School, others, celebrating music

 Local schools, such as Dr. Antonia Patoja Community School located at 370 Normal Ave., are celebrating Music in our Schools Month throughout March.
 The school will be utilizing a Buffalo Arts Teacher Collaborative grant in order to incorporate more music into the students’ daily routines. The grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Education.
 Michael Yanoski, a music teacher at the school, said the event aims to, “make students aware in class that it’s Music in our School’s Month.”
 According to the Buffalo School District’s music department website, “Music in our Schools Month is an opportunity for music teachers to bring their music programs to the attention of the school and the community and to display the benefits school music brings to students of all ages.”
 Yanoski said that vocalist Holly Bewlay is expected to perform and present at the school sometime in March.
 “She’s going to work more in depth with the students in the next two years,” Yanoski said.
 Other schools throughout Buffalo will be implementing more music programs this month as well. By Anna Dinger and Kevin Freiheit

Year-old West Side Bazaar wants to expand

Martha Sosa, owner of Pure Peru

 As the West Side Bazaar celebrates its first anniversary, plans are already in motion to expand.
 The bazaar is located at 242 Grant St. in a small space tucked next to Guercio & Sons grocers. The small, whitewashed room is stuffed to the brim with six vendors and their wares from all over the world.
 The Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) is working to create another West Side Bazaar that would be large enough to house 20 to 30 vendors.
Economic Development Coordinator for WEDI, Ben Bissell, says the Bazaar’s planned expansion should be finished by fall of this year.
  At this moment WEDI is taking applications for hopeful new business owners. Much like the current bazaar, WEDI is looking for tenants from the refugee and immigrant community.
  “Any [applicant] we get, we’ll look over,” said Bissell. “Products from other countries are especially valued.”
  Products like those sold by Martha Sosa in Pure Peru, the store she owns within the current bazaar. Her displays overflow with painted watermelon seed earrings, various necklaces and palm nut ivory carvings.
  “I make [some things],” said Sosa. “But also, I bring in my culture.”
  Sosa, draped in a coffee-bean necklace, said she is looking forward to the possibilities the new expansion will offer.
  “You can make food,” said Sosa, an aspiring chef. “The other location will be bigger than here.” By Mike Harrington and Shayna McKie

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Kids' programs aim of new collaboration

 Westside Stories Used Books and the Grant Street Neighborhood Center are collaborating in hopes to create a future partnership to benefit neighborhood children.
  The book store and non-profit community center co-sponsored a children’s arts and crafts event for the first time, encouraging participation in Friendship Month.
  The event was free of charge and held at Westside Stories on Grant Street. The arts and crafts session was geared for children ranging in grade levels from kindergarten to junior high, said Joe Petri, who co-owns Westside Stories with his wife.
  Megan Little from the Grant Street Neighborhood Center supervised the activities.
  “It was good for the Grant Street Neighborhood Center to partner with Westside Stories because they are so close by and because they also provide a nice safe environment for people in the community to come into,” Little said.
  The Petris have a strong sense of pride about the West Side and hope to increase its value by continuing a partnership with the Grant Street Neighborhood Center, Petri said.
  “We do a lot of kid’s programs here and if it’s a particularly successful one, I think we’ll repeat it, but we’ll talk to the kids and to the staff over at the community center, see what kind of feedback we get and go from there,” Petri said. By Elaundress Ballard and Christie Jok

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

2nd urban agriculture program this week

  The Massachusetts Avenue Project’s Growing Green program is set for its second annual Spring Urban Agricultural training program, taking place from March 9 to March 11.
  According to the Growing Green website, individuals that chose to participate in the program will learn about urban fish farming, composting and value-added food production.
  “I really hope that the program continues to grow each year,” said Executive Director of Massachusetts Avenue Project Diane Picard. “People benefit by gaining knowledge about urban agriculture, and with networking with those who travel from far distances for the program.”
  The Growing Green program expects a wide variety of people participating in this program, ranging from teenagers to seniors.
  “Last year we had a lot of younger people at this program,” said Picard. “However we have had people come in that were also in their 50s and 60s, which we like to see because there is such a wide variety of people who are interested in urban agriculture.”
  According to, 80 percent of the U.S population lives in cities, which leads to a tremendous amount of energy being used to transport and process food.
  The Urban Agricultural Program is currently being held once a year, but Picard would like to see that change in the future.
  “This program started because we were getting a lot of requests for training,” she said. “I would love to see us run more training programs in the future, if we are able to acquire more staff to help out with these programs.” By Richard Cumpston and Mike Tellier

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Minimum wage hike debated here, in Albany

 Raising the state’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour could have either beneficial and devastating effects on local businesses, depending on who's talking.
 A month after New York State’s proposal to raise minimum wage, the bill is in committee. While debates continue in Albany, local leaders voice their opinions on the impact of this legislation.
 Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, said the minimum wage increase will help people raise their families on a higher income and prevent them from having to turn to government support.
 "Every time legislation like this is introduced we always hear that it will be detrimental to business, but the studies have shown time and time again that the minimum wage helps to put more money in the pockets of workers across the state with no detrimental affects to hiring,” said Ryan.
 However, Susan McCartney, director of the Small Business and Development Center of Buffalo, has a different take on the increase.
 “The West Side community has a lot of small retail businesses that pay minimum wage; so this could ultimately effect the amount those businesses make,” said McCartney.
 McCartney also said the increase could affect greater unemployment for workers ranging from ages 16 to 24.
 Ryan stands strong on his opinion.
 “The expectation in this country,” Ryan said, “is that if you work a full time job, you should be able to support your family.” By Katie Anderson and Danielle Wayne

Saturday, March 3, 2012

IT'S FISH FRY TIME AGAIN - Volunteers prepare the Lenten Fish Fry dinner at Holy Angels Church, 348 Porter Ave. The parish's fish fries are scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., for March 9, 16, 23 and 30. Photo by Mackenzie Clarke, Stephanie Delaunay and Cheri St. Croix

Santasiero's marks 90 years in business

 In an economy where a lot of local business news features foreclosures and out of business signs, Santasiero’s restaurant located at the corner of Lafayette Avenue and Niagara Street is beating the odds as it celebrates 90 years in business.
  When Dominic and Philomena Santasiero came to America from Italy in 1906 and opened the restaurant six years later, they could have never predicted the legacy they would leave in Buffalo. The business is now being run by the fourth generation of the Santasiero family, and they see no signs of stopping.
  Part owner John Brands Jr. is the great-grandson of Dominic Santasiero. When asked about what it means to be open for nearly a century he said, “It’s a majestic legacy that we plan to continue on with.”
  Although the restaurant didn’t have any big events planned for the celebration, the family is celebrating how fortunate they’ve been. Brands said 90 years gives a feeling of accomplishment to his family. The low-key attitude towards a celebration fits the atmosphere and setting of the restaurant itself.
  “Santasiero’s makes you feel welcome. It’s a home-like feeling. My dad’s been taking me here for years, and someday I’m going to take my children here. It’s a great place,” said Mike Macaluso of Buffalo.
  The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
By Pasquale Maggiore and Alexa Myers