Monday, October 28, 2013

IN DEPTH: Business owners tap into Grant St. culture

          Many new business owners see Grant Street and its surrounding neighborhood as a blank canvas and a unique opportunity to forge a new path in an area. Full story by Sean Dwyer and Youleidy Vega

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Restaurant week closes


Blue Monk was one of 12 Elmwood Avenue restaurants participating in the 2013 fall Restaurant Week. The week is designed to give customers the opportunity to try elegant dishes at a discounted price that corresponds with the year. Expensive entrees are priced at $20.13. Blue Monk was established in 2010 and with the week coming to a close, it hopes to prove that it belongs with the rest of the upper tier restaurants of Western New York. By Patrick Lawler and Joe Sarro

Urban Roots in holiday mood with pumpkins

 Harvest season has come upon us once again, and local community garden center Urban Roots has all of the farm connections to make this time of year a success.
Pumpkins are of the utmost demand, with Halloween being right around the corner. Urban Roots gets their pumpkins from the Kelkenberg Farm of Akron. Patti Jablonski-Dopkin, Urban Roots manager, remembers visiting the farm with her son before they became a pumpkin supplier.

“I used to take my son out there because they have a beautiful farm, and they'll take you on a horse-drawn cart out to the pasture and pick your own pumpkins,” she said.

Jablonski-Dopkin says that their shipment from the Kelkenbergs included both smaller, pie pumpkins and larger, jack-o-lantern pumpkins.

“The larger pumpkins you really don't cook with. It's the smaller pie pumpkins that you're going to cook with,” she said.

According to Jablonski-Dopkin, Urban Roots received over 100 large pumpkins from the Kelkenberg harvest.

Clearly, even in the city, pumpkins are in high demand. Local community organization, The Westside Art Strategy Happenings Project, came to Urban Roots to pick up pumpkins for a carving contest on Oct. 20.

No need to fret once the pumpkin inventory is cleared out though; heirloom squashes and gourds will be available for purchase through the end of the season. Urban Roots members can educate those who are interested about the best ways to cook them for upcoming holiday meals. By Lauren Coppola and Samantha Wulff

Ghostly walks

Tour guide Robert Lockhart explains the haunted history behind Babeville, located on Delaware Avenue and Tupper Street as part of The Haunted Pub Crawl: The Theater District. Lockhart takes people on a journey through time while visiting Allentown pubs and relives the history of their apparitions. The tours are one of Mason Winfield’s Haunted History Ghost Walks that take place through Nov. 2. There are also several themed tours taking place through the West Side. The dates and times of the tours can be found online at By Ebony Linzy

A call to re-tree

Matt Quirey, horticultural manager at Forest Lawn, digs deep into the soil marking where a new tree will be planted during this year’s tree planting event at the cemetery. Seven years after the surprise October snowstorm, Forest Lawn still lacks approximately 700 trees that once decorated the historic 269-acre cemetery. Forest Lawn, with the help of Re-Tree WNY, is scheduled to plant 300 trees this fall. The public is invited to help re-plant those trees from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2.  at Forest Lawn, which is located at 1411 Delaware Ave. at West Delavan Avenue. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. To register, contact Catherine Meyer at 716-885-1606 ext. 242 or at By Mike Loffredo

IN DEPTH: Popular restaurant to move to West Side

          Bistro Europa, a long-standing staple among Elmwood Village restaurants, is moving to 376 Connecticut St.  most likely in August 2014. The chef-owners Steve and Ellen Gedra have been waiting 20 years for a bigger place, all their own. Full story by Lauren Coppola and Samantha Wulff.

IN DEPTH: West Buffalo Charter to add 4th grade

Kindergartener September Doh  at West Buffalo Charter
West Buffalo Charter School includes kindergarten through third grades for now, but in the spring will begin construction in on a new wing that will accommodate a fourth grade. Full story by Matt Bove and Gabrielle Mediak

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In Depth: Hero of West Side keeps the gang life away

           With a flat brim cap, sunglasses and a heavy gold chain hanging from his neck, Darrell Barber doesn’t seem like your normal youth director. Gangs, guns, fights and robberies were an everyday occurrence when Barber was growing up. Now  a youth director at West Side Community Services,  Barber doesn’t want today’s kids living the same life. Full story by Patrick Lawler and Joe Sarro.

Conference bound

Debbie Lombardo, community outreach coordinator for Neighborhood Housing Services, right, and Ray Ertel, community activist, left, are preparing to go to the NeighborWorks America conference in Sacramento, Calif.  this month. West Side & Black Rock-Riverside Neighborhood Housing Services are also sending six other staff and community volunteers. The goal of the trip is for them to find ways to enhance a neighborhood without solely focusing on housing. By Caitlin Kupiec and James McDonald

Not going away

The sport of boxing has declined in popularity over the last decade, but amateur boxer, Anthony Woodruff and trainer Blacna Cruz, expresses why the sport of boxing will continue to intrigue its audience on the West Side. With the recent magnitude of September’s Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez fight, boxing could be making a comeback, and that’s clearly seen at Buffalo’s Westside Boxing Club. By Patrick Lawler and Joe Sarro

Buffalo Bites tours visit Elmwood eateries

There are still several weeks left to participate in this year’s annual Buffalo Bites Tour.
The tours, continue through November, are giving visitors and locals alike last opportunities to indulge in the culture of the Elmwood Village.
During the three-hour walking tours, participants journey through Elmwood Village and hear stories of its past.
The tours run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays and were designed to give people a chance to explore and appreciate Buffalo’s architecture, according the website
Children pay $30 and adults $42.
In addition to sightseeing participants stop at six local eateries including Cole’s Restaurant & Bar, Blue Monk pub and Firefly Cupcakes where they’re given samples of specialty dishes.
As part of the tour, Firefly Cupcakes, located on Elmwood Aveneue and Bidwell Parkway, provides participants with one of its full sized couture cupcakes of any choice
Derrick Reed, senior staff of Firefly Cupcakes, said he thinks the tour is great in terms of promoting Buffalo‘s culture.
“It’s a good way to get to know the city without having to do it by yourself. They’re familiarizing themselves with the area,” said Reed. By Ebony Linzy

Kaledia Health reviews Gates Circle plan

 Three new proposals for the Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital reuse are on the table and being reviewed by the Kaleida Health offices.
The prospective occupants stepped forward with their claim to reuse the old site of the hospital within the last few weeks.
“As of now, we are looking at three proposals and we will consider the one that is the best for us and for this city,” said Mike Hughes, vice president and chief marketing officer at Kaleida Health.
In March 2012, the hospital closed and moved to the Gates Vascular institute, located at 875 Ellicott St. on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
Chason Affinity, a real estate development company based in Buffalo had a proposal in the reuse project fall through in July. The company was unable to finalize plans with DeVry University’s Ross School of Veterinary Medicine, a veterinary school based out of the Caribbean side of the West Indies in St. Kitts.
Kaleida wants to transfer this property to a "creative, responsible, high-quality redeveloper as soon as possible," according to its website.
"Obviously, every time there is an opportunity like this, that's what we look for," Hughes said. "Two hundred jobs and thousands of students would have been great for this city." By Mike Lofreddo

Sunday, October 20, 2013

IN DEPTH: Cultures unite in West Side soccer program

          It’s an overcast and muggy Saturday morning at Front Park, quiet but for the sounds of sneakers squeaking on the slick pavement of the parking lot as dozens of children play in the West Side International Soccer program’s first-ever street soccer tournament. Full story by Chris Dierken and Leif Reigstad

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Winter is coming

Massachusetts Avenue Project's  mobile market director Tyler Manley and farm and markets assistant Kate Pfohl prepare their farm for cold winter weather. As the fall season comes to a close, MAP turns its focus to winterizing the farm, hoping for another successful season. By Matt Bove and Gabrielle Mediak

Painting the town

Local artists beautify the West Side  though the group Community Canvases. Other community members have involved themselves in the project, including area Boy Scouts who applied anti-graffiti coatings to protect the works. Founders Alex Cornwell and Jim Montour explain the goals of the organization. By Lauren Coppola and Samantha Wulff

Student volunteers better the West Side

      A sea of orange shirts flooded Grant Street Oct. 5 as the students of SUNY Buffalo State could be found picking up trash and cleaning the neighborhood on Community Service Day. 
      The students were from Buffalo State’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center, which sponsors a Monthly Service Corps initiative. The next event will be held on Oct. 26 where Buffalo State students will pair up with West Side high school students to volunteer on projects that will better the West Side community.
     “It’s nice to show that Buff State is involved in the West Side,” said Aurora Schunk, a  service learning center associate. “And it’s part of the reason why we have students participate in this project as well as other projects on the West Side, as well as Riverside and the East Side  of Buffalo.”
   The Westminster Economic Development Initiative, PUSH Buffalo, and the Buffalo State service learning center sponsored the Community Service day event. The event featured a mile-long cleanup along Grant Street starting at the Asarese-Matters Community Center at 50 Rees St. and ending at the West Side Bazaar near West Ferry Street.
     According to volunteer Leslie Sanchez, a senior from Buffalo State, the idea is to clean up the street to help businesses grow, and to promote a friendly and clean environment.
     “It helps with people coming into the community,” Sanchez said. “Once you clean up the community, more people are willing to come in and become a part of it. It brings more business to the street as well.” By Caitlin Kupiec and James McDonald

Labor Department to host job fair at Belle

The New York state Department of Labor is holding a job fair on Oct. 23 at The Belle Center located on 104 Maryland St.
     The event will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and will include hundreds of available jobs.
     “I would encourage people looking for serious jobs to come dressed professionally with a resume in hand, as people have been hired on the spot in the past,” said Jack Norton, head of program development at The Belle Center.
     According to the Department of Labor’s website, Buffalo’s unemployment rate was 7.3 percent as of August.
     Representatives from the lodging, accounting, banking and other industries will welcome everyone who is eligible to work in the United States. Other industries will be housekeeping, social work, advertisement, food and beverage, call centers, consulting and transportation.
     “It’s great when I see most of my former students and sometimes their parents, walk out of the fair with hope of a new beginning,” said Dinorah Santos, summer youth program supervisor at The Belle Center.  By Shanice Core and Elias Taveras

Friday, October 11, 2013

Bulbs to beautify

Sharon Danna, left, and Eritrea immigrant Rezenne Asfaha, plant  daffodil bulbs along Grant Street, from Hampshire Street to West Delavan Avenue as part of an eight-week  effort to help beautify the community before winter hits. “People who aren’t from the West Side don’t understand how important this is,” Danna said. Gullo Nursery in Hamburg and A.D.R. Bulbs in the Hudson Valley have collectively donated over 700 bulbs to be planted. Prior to this project, Danna spruced up other gardens along the the Niagara Street thruway entrance, the Waterfront, East Side and South Buffalo. By Marybeth Calabrese and Ally Selva

Eyes on a New Year

 Carpenter Henry Martz works on The Tabernacle, Lafayette Avenue at Grant Street, a future venue for music and theater performances from local talent. The owner of the neighboring Sweetness_7 Café, Prish Moran plans on combining both buildings to enhance the experience of her guests. Moran  expects The Tabernacle to open in time for New Years. By Sean Dwyer and Youleidy Vega