Monday, November 25, 2013

IN DEPTH: Winter weather warrants warmer clothing

          West Side organizations and businesses are doing their best to ensure that people living on the street can be as warm as possible. New to You and Friends of Night People are among those that are providing some warmth in the area's frigid temperatures. Full story by Matt Bove and Gabrielle Mediak

Thanksgiving Eve is make or break for bars

Black Friday can make or break the year for retailers all over the country, but for bars and clubs on the West Side, the moment of truth comes  on Thanksgiving Eve.
The night before Thanksgiving has been deemed the biggest party night of year, but for bars and clubs it is far more important than most may think.
“The bars make double, sometimes triple the amount they would on a normal weekend all in one night,” said Zach Grimm, bouncer at Social Night Club, 228 Franklin St. “Without this night I don’t think the bar would make it through the holiday season.” 
Capitalizing on the first time college students come back home for Thanksgiving break is vital for the success of the bars and clubs. Many places on the West Side will raise their cover charge upwards of ensuring that they make the most out of the craziest night of their year.
“Clubs will increase their cover charge because they know how many people will come through the doors,” Nick Iacona, a disc jockey at at Purple Monkey, 236 Delaware Ave, and Pure Night Club, 75 West Chippewa St. said. “People will pay to participate in the madness because it is the biggest party night of the year, so bars can get away with charging more.” By Matt Bove and Gabrielle Mediak

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Salvation Army plans Thanksgiving dinner

           The Salvation Army, 187 Grant St, is holding its annual Thanksgiving services and turkey dinner for the West Side community on Thanksgiving Day.
Services will start at 11 a.m. and dinners will start to be fed at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 28.   Anybody is more than welcome to come eat or volunteer to cater the event or even to lend a helping hand in the clean up. The dinner is free of charge.
Tops, Wegmans and individuals donated multiple turkeys and other foods to help feed people in need of a holiday dinner.
“This event not only helps families, but it helps the community come together,” a Salvation Army official said. By Patrick Lawler and Joe Sarro

Monday, November 18, 2013

That's amore

-->Alexander Wenzel puts the finishing touches on a pizza at Casa Di Pizza, 477 Elmwood Ave. Casa Di Pizza and La Nova Pizzeria, 371 W. Ferry St. were featured on Pizza Today’s 2013 Hot List of the highest grossing independently owned pizzerias in the country. La Nova ranked 16th on the list, grossing $8 million this year, while Casa Di Pizza ranked 66th, grossing just over $3 million in 2013, making both West Side favorites two of the most successful pizzerias in the country. By Matt Bove and Gabrielle Mediak

Art on display

Julie Lewitzky adds works to her current exhibit at 1045 Elmwood Gallery for the Arts. The collection of paintings, drawings, prints and more, titled “413 Works,” opened Nov. 8 and runs through the end of the year. Lewitzky’s compilation of bright colors, simplistic characters and text is the product of her natural gravitation toward artistic expression.“I just find it very relaxing,” she said. “I’m one of those people that when I get relaxed, and sit down, I like to draw. It’s fun for me.” By Lauren Coppola and Samantha Wulff

Gypsy Parlor brings excitement to Grant St.

By Caitlin Kupiec and James McDonald
Bengal News West Reporters
Once guests walk into Gypsy Parlor, located at 376 Grant St., they are greeted by colorful tutus, bohemian belly dancers and gypsies tending bar, none of which are likely found at the average corner pub.

Gabrielle Mattina, owner of the bar/restaurant, grew up on the West Side and always knew she wanted to open her restaurant on Grant Street. She’s of Romanian lineage, so the name of the bar is inspired partly by her culture, and partly from an ongoing joke with her friends.

“I get criticism for it every day,” Mattina said. “But it was a way of life for us, with the dressing up, the henna and the fortune telling.” 

The bar holds special events each week, including Tutu Tuesdays, – where guests get $2 drink specials if they show up in a tutu – Belly Dancer Wednesdays and other various events.

The cocktails are all original recipes created by Mattina. A popular drink is named “Gypsy Juice,” which can be made non-alcoholic or mixed with liquor of choice.

Mattina never saw herself opening the restaurant anywhere else, and said that the bar is doing about 40 percent better than she ever imagined it would.

Residents of the neighborhood have welcomed her with open arms since the place opened in late September, and she said she could not ask for a better situation.

“People tell me, 'We’re so glad something opened up here, we’re sick of driving to Elmwood and Allen',” Mattina said. “It’s rewarding to know that people appreciate it.”

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Holiday cards for heroes

 Brianna Dumpson, a student at SUNY Buffalo State, makes cards for military service men and women with the Volunteer and Service Learning Center at the college. The last card-making session will be held from 12:15 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 21 in Bacon Hall, room 220. The public is invited.The American Red Cross will deliver these holiday cards to veterans, military families and active duty service members around the world. By Sade Mckenzie and Shytisha Taylor

Turkey and beer?

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, Ethan Cox, president of Community Beer Works, talks about pairing beers to seasonal foods, like turkey. By Chris Dierken and Leif Reigstad

IN DEPTH: Prescription drug abuse takes center stage

          Most people don’t realize that the root of prescription drug abuse can lie within their own medicine cabinets. The West Side Youth Development Coalition is raising awareness about this issue by holding community forums with speakers such as federal drug agents, healthcare professionals and public officials who aim to reduce the problem. Full story by Marybeth Calabrese and Alexandria Selva

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Victorian Christmas

 Janice Kuzan, assistant director of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, 641 Delaware Ave., shares details on the 39th annual Victorian Christmas,  set to begin Friday Dec. 6 and will run until Dec. 14. The series of events  will feature a collection of affairs including a silent auction, wine tastings, a fashion luncheon and special entertainment including jazz performances. The event started in 1974 as part of a holiday initiative to draw more attention to the Rosevelt site, as well as to raise money. Today it is the site’s biggest fundraiser, and all proceeds go towards its operating cost.  By Ebony Linzy

Small Business Saturday

The owner of Salon Rouge, Andrew Brown, right, prepares for Small Business Saturday. Located on 700 Elmwood Ave., Salon Rouge will be among  a number of small businesses participating in this national event.  Taking place Nov. 30, businesses will offer discounts and promotions similar to those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Encouraging people to patronize mom and pop shops, the event began  in 2010 as an advertising campaign by American Express. As part of the holiday, Salon Rouge will offer 20 percent  off of all retail products and specials on  manicures and pedicures.  Neo Gift Studio,  512 Elmwood Ave., above, will also offer specials to its shoppers according to owner Joan Zoerb. By Sean Dwyer and Youleidy Vega

Friday, November 15, 2013

Winter parking changes

Starting Nov. 15, cars along bus routes such as Grant Street will have to move overnight as part of the winter parking changes. These citywide parking regulations do not allow parking on city bus routes between 1:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Winter parking changes will be in effect through April 1, 2014. Alternate street parking has been in effect since Nov. 1. It prohibits parking on the streets on a snowy day after 2 a.m. until the streets are plowed from corner to corner. By Mike Loffredo

Gallery walk

Michael Mully labels a collection of artwork as he prepares for First Fridays in Allentown. The owner of the College Art Gallery, located at 244 Allen St., Mulley participates in this monthly gallery walk that takes place on the first Friday of every month. Open and free to the public, the gallery walk gives participants an opportunity to experience the arts, speak with its artists, hear performances, and enjoy local restaurants. Hosted by the Allentown Association, the next event runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Dec. 6 and will feature 11 participating venues. Those interested in attending First Fridays can learn more by visiting By Ebony Linzy

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Journey's End to serve up holiday dinner

By Shanice Core and Elias Taveras
Bengal News West Reporters        
             Journey’s End Refugee Services will be hosting a Thanksgiving  dinner for refugees. 
The United Methodist Church along with several other churches in Buffalo will collaborate with Journey’s End to make this experience a pleasant and memorable dinner for the refugees.
“This event will be a way to introduce the refugees to American culture,” Community Liaison Andy Cammarata said.
The dinner will be held at 8 p.m.,  Nov. 23 at the Central Park United Methodist Church,  216 Beard Ave.
This event continues to grow; last year 200 guests were in attendance.
Journey’s End Vocational Trainer, Chef Steve Gohiorty will cook the meals along with an army of volunteers. Refugees will be served traditional American dishes such as turkey with stuffing, fresh cranberries, and pumpkin pie, among other dishes.
            The dinner will be followed by a performance by refugee children from several public schools in Buffalo. They will perform a play about the first thanksgiving. 
            “Refugees work so hard all year round, it is a day for them to be treated like guests,” Cammarata said.
Although this event is targeted towards Buffalo refugees, it will be open to everyone in the community.
The United Methodist church and Journey’s End are now accepting food and money donations.

EBT program continues

The Elmwood Village Association’s EBT Benefit Exchange Program continues to assist the large immigrant population on the West Side with purchasing fresh produce at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market.   The market is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.  until mid-December. By Sade Mckenzie and Shytisha Taylor

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

College soccer programs prep for playoffs

By Matt Bove and Gabrielle Mediak
Bengal News West Reporters
People are tuning in to the Major League Soccer playoffs on ESPN and NBC by the thousands, but for those on the West Side, there is playoff soccer closer than they may think. 
Every college on the West Side — SUNY Buffalo State, Medaille College, D’Youville College and Canisius College — has soccer teams competing for their respective conference championships this month.
While Buffalo State soccer has struggled lately, its fortunes appear to be changing. Both the men’s and women’s teams made the playoffs for the first time in years, with the men finishing the regular season with a 9-9-1 record, and the women with an 11-5-2 record.
"Buffalo State men’s soccer has changed its reputation," junior forward Christian Warchocki said. "We went from being the easiest team to play in the SUNYAC [State University of New York Athletic Conference] to making the playoffs." 
Although the men had an impressive year, the women’s team has earned a first round bye, and is a favorite to win the SUNYAC championship.
Medaille’s men’s team finished with a record of 12-7-1 and is the No. 1 seed in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) tournament.  D’Youville women’s soccer finished with an 11-4-3 record, and is also preparing for the upcoming AMCC championships. Both are among the favorites to compete for their league championships.
While Canisius’ women’s team’s season ended with a playoff loss on Nov. 1, the men’s team is preparing for the upcoming Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament. The men’s team finished the regular season 6-8-2, while the women’s squad ended with a 6-14-1 record.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

IN DEPTH: West Side murals celebrate art, diversity

          The murals that have been added to the landscape in West Side business districts give residents a chance to look at themselves and their surroundings in a new and artistic way. Full story by Sean Dwyer and Youleidy Vega

Monday, November 11, 2013

GIs of Comedy invade

Creator of The GIs of Comedy, Thom Tran, second from left, helps students from the SUNY Buffalo State communication department set up a tent for the stage performance that was held Nov. 2 at the college. The show was filmed live with hope that a major network such as Comedy Central would take an interest in this group. Tran is a Buffalo State alumnus and U.S. Army veteran, who started his comedy career in 2008. The GIs of Comedy are all veterans of the United States military who use their years of experience in the armed forces to create laughter. By Marybeth Calabrese and Ally Selva

Martin (more than) Cooks

Martin Danilowicz discusses renovations and inspiration behind products in the new grocery store at his restaurant Martin Cooks, located on Connecticut Street, along with his plans for the future.  He is using space previously occupied by Press Raw Food & Juice, which is moving to Grant Street.  By Lauren Coppola and Samantha Wulff

IN DEPTH: West African inspires West Side boxers

          Anges Adjaho, a professional boxer and Olympic contender, is a native of the West African country of Benin. He was recruited by promoter Don King and has appeared on national television, but today home is the West Side, where he continues to box and help beginners and amateurs at the West Side Boxing Club. Full story by Patrick Lawler and Joe Sarro.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rich halfway through $18 million project

By Patrick Lawler and Joe Sarro
Bengal News West Reporters 
          Rich Products Corp. is midway through its $18 million project to upgrade its Niagara Street headquarters. 
          The project is being built from the bottom up starting with the basement that has been transformed into a brand new workout facility for the employees that has a view overlooking the river. The atrium is in the process of being renovated, and when it is complete is will continue to host weddings and other events. A new customer innovation center also is planned. 
            According to Corporate Communications Vice President Dwight Gram, renovations are set to be complete by May 2014.  
            During the past five years the company has been investing greatly, everything is modern and brand new. The renovations signify that Rich Products is  committed to staying long term, Gram said.
            Rich Products is a global company that has 9,200 employees in over 112 countries with 37 manufacturing sites.
            “We could build this anywhere,” said Gram. “We chose to build this in Buffalo   because this is still our home and it’s a commitment back to this community.”  

Residents: Ardmore better with blacktop

By Chris Dierken and Leif Reigstad
Bengal News West Reporters
Residents of Ardmore Place are finding that the historic brick they rallied to keep uncovered is more than they bargained for.
From afar, the street looks smooth and even. But a closer look reveals crooked, uneven bricks and gaps every ten feet filled with loose asphalt.
In July, the city ripped up the road to repave it. When residents saw the exposed red brick underneath the pavement, they pushed the city to allow them to keep it. Now, that initial excitement seems to have faded. 
“It’s not the way things are today,” Danelle Castiglia, 68 Ardmore Place, said. “It’s fun to hang on to nostalgia, but I don’t think it’s practical. There’s a reason they paved it [40] years ago.”
“It’s pretty to look at,” Castiglia  said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be practical.”
Kenneth Guidie, whose girlfriend lives on Ardmore, said he doesn’t like that skateboarding or rollerblading on the brick is difficult.
“The road is bumpy, you have to drive really slow when you’re driving over it,” Guidie said. “It’s noisy, that’s another complaint people have been having.”
With winter approaching, residents are worried that snowplows won’t be able to go down Ardmore without scraping the road, and that salt might erode the recently discovered red bricks.
            “I like the feel that it brings, the look of it,” Guidie said. “Other than that, I don’t care for it. That’s going to be a mess if they don’t raise their plows up a couple of inches, like they should.”

IN DEPTH: Bicyclists prep for winter riding season

Buffalo didn't get ranked 14th in the nation for the number of bicycle commuters for nothing. When the weather turns brisk and the snow begins to fall, hearty,  year-round cyclists decorate bike lanes with tread marks. Full story by Lauren Coppola and Samantha Wulff.

IN DEPTH: Evolation Yoga aims to relax the West Side

          A yoga studio on the West Side turns up the heat on relaxation. Full story by Sade Mckenzie and Shytisha Taylor.

IN DEPTH: Live comedy brings big laughs to West Side

          A troupe of students at SUNY Buffalo State delivers laughs for free to growing audiences every Friday night. Full story by Matt Bove and Gabrielle Mediak

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Farmers' market goes inside for winter

By Ebony Linzy
Bengal News West Reporter
            With winter just weeks away, the Elmwood-Bidwell Market is going inside.
             The producer-only market  set up shop Nov. 2 inside the recently renovated Horsefeathers Market & Residences and will be open until May 3, 2014.
           Located on Connecticut and Normal streets, Horsefeathers will house the winter market, which would extend the season of the weekly outdoor farmer’s market making it year round. It will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. untill  1. p.m. 
           The market  gives people an opportunity to purchase goods directly from the producers themselves. Usually situated inside the park on Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway, the summer market has 38 vendors and runs from May through November. 
          Composed of 14 participating vendors, the winter market will offer a collection of products including fruits and vegetables, homemade doggy treats and soaps. 
           The farmers’ market vendors will be set up among permanent retailers including the Martin Cooks Restaurant, and the Pasta Peddler.
           Marketing manager Joe Kirchmyer  hopes that the overall summer experience will extend into its winter season and that it will see success.
           “The market is a great community gathering place,” Kirchmyer said.

'Front Yard' exhibit

Project coordinator Brian Milbrand and volunteer Amanda Matthews discuss the debut of the Front Yard art exhibit, which projects videos  on the Burchfield Penney Art Center located at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Rockwell Road. The video exhibit is controlled by the weather and creates an opportunity for local artists to display their work to Elmwood commuters, 365 days a year. By Sean Dwyer and Youleidy Vega

Open Buffalo awaits news on $3 million

By Sean Dwyer and Youleidy Vega
Bengal News West Reporters  
        A coalition of Buffalo organizations is awaiting word on receiving a $3 million grant from The Open Society Foundations for urban development.
PUSH Buffalo, Partnership for the Public Good, Voice Buffalo and Coalition for Justice combined to create Open Buffalo, which applied for the grant in April.
Open Buffalo’s plan includes improving the city’s worker equity and workforce development, increasing education and training for youth and increasing opportunities for local businesses.
The Open Society Foundations’ goal is to build vibrant communities and promote open participation while holding government accountable, according to its website.
Organizations in 16 cities applied and Buffalo was one of eight cities that advanced to the semi-finals. Each semi-finalists received $100, 000 for planning.
The planning process, which ended in September, consisted of the cities putting together a proposal of ideas and potential changes that will help improve their community. The cities that show that they are most capable of efficiently using the money will receive the grant, said Rahwa Ghirmatzion, PUSH Buffalo’s development director.
The foundation has until December to decide which cities will be awarded the implementation money. They will receive $1 million yearly for a minimum of three years.
Ghirmatzion said that they have not thought about how they will implement their plans without the foundations'  support but would still continue to pursue their plans.

IN DEPTH: 5 Loaves gives city kids farm experience

Buffalo Vineyard City Church is on a mission to bring farming into a city neighborhood with its 5 Loaves Farm. Volunteers, which include many area school students, help work the farm and harvest its bounty for area residents.  Full story by Ebony Linzy

Friday, November 8, 2013

IN DEPTH: Two West Side shops sell throwback theme

          Two West Side merchants believe there's a place for good old-fashioned books and vinyl records, despite where technology is going. Full story by Caitlin Kupiec and James McDonald

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A good yarn

Artist Marissa Lehner, right, helps Sarayvd Maung create an art project with yarn at The WASH Project @ Westside Value Laundromat located at 417 Massachusetts Ave. Maung is taking part in Yarn Bombing, a community event held at the laundromat involving weaving together colorful yarn to be wrapped around neighborhood lampposts, street signs and bike racks. By Chris Deirken and Leif Reigstad

Healthy advice

The Independent Health Foundation organizes The Good For The Neighborhood events in order to help the large population of immigrants on the West Side receive medical assistance. By Shanice Core and Elias Taveras

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cupcakes and conversation

Firefly Cupcakes on Elmwood Avenue  may have a small patio and storefront, but the store's backroom creates quite a buzz.  What sets the boutique bakery apart from its competitors is its Open Mic night, which is attracting patrons of all ages on a weekly basis. By Matt Bove and Gabrielle Mediak

IN DEPTH: Candidate Rodriguez has big plans for city

          Buffalo adopted son Sergio Rodriguez is focusing on four points to improve the city as he campaigns for the mayor's job. Full story by Michael Loffredo