Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sports City Pizza Pub opens on West Side

Michael A. Rizzo, and his son, Michael A. Rizzo II, present their steak & stuffed hot pepper specialty pizza along with their self-acclaimed “best barbeque wings in Buffalo.” The father-son duo recently opened Sports City Pizza Pub on the corner of Niagara Street and West Delevan Avenue on the West Side, which features 13 flat screen TVs and more than 20 craft beers on tap. After starting his business in Kenmore, the elder Rizzo moved the company to the West Side where he is originally from. Recognizing that this area of Buffalo was on the rise, Rizzo thought it would be the perfect place to offer his family’s unique services and reach a diverse population. By Franlkin Hagler and Matthew Neidhart

Cats add cozy feel to Elmwood gift shop

The Thin Ice gift shop, 719 Elmwood Ave., has two unique feline staff members. The store owner, Therese Deutschlander, brings her two cats Simon and Atti to work with her each day. Deutschlander says not only do the cats feel right at home in the store, but customers delight in seeing the cats and will even show her photographs of their own pets. “A lot of customers are visiting from out of town and they’ve had to leave their cats at home so they miss them, so it’s nice to kind of get a little cat fix,” Deutschlander said. By Melissa Burrowes

Comic book fan draws up quirky comic store

By Tony Callens and Ben Joe
Bengal News Reporters         
            When you picture a comic book you think of Batman, Superman or Spiderman. But have you heard of Totoro? Did you know that the film “Fight Club” has a sequel…in comic book form?
            Many non-traditional comic books exist, and you can find them at Gutter Pop Comics. Located at 1028 Elmwood Ave., the shop opened in June with the focus of providing slice-of-life and other titles that are not so common.
            “Gutter Pop is a comic book store with a focus on the whole breadth of comics,” storeowner Stephen Floyd said.
            These slice-of-life comics feature characters in everyday life rather than muscular heroes with superpowers. The shop has everything from these slice-of-life comics to Japanese manga to books that feature classic cartoon characters. 

Stephen Floyd, on opening a comic book store:

          “I’ve always wanted to see a comic book shop in Buffalo that showcased everything I felt comic books had to offer,” Floyd said. “A lot of people come in here with a certain perception of what to expect but come in and discover something they have never seen before. They see that people create comics to show their own experiences.”
            Floyd, 32, was born in Atlanta but moved to Buffalo in 2010. He credits a publisher in his hometown for forming his love of comics that show real life situations. He was a fan of X-Men and other superhero comics before the publisher changed his interests for good.
            He worked for the bubble hockey maker ICE Super Chexx in Clarence when he decided to make the jump to become a small business owner. Floyd had a background in the comic book industry before he decided to open up the shop. He has co-owned a small comic book publisher called One Percent Press for a decade.
            Floyd was turning 30 years old and felt that it was time to make a move. The process of opening the shop took a few years but after finally opening with the help of non-profit organization SCORE, the store has received a good reception thus far.
            SCORE is a free non-profit that helps people who are starting a business come up with a plan. It tells them how to stay below budget, how to market themselves and the ins and outs of business.
            “We like to say it's always a good time to start a business! Small business is essential to a thriving economy, and organizations like SCORE and the Small Business Administration provide information and other support to businesses that face challenges, but more importantly, as they pursue opportunities,” SCORE Buffalo-Niagara Chapter Administrator Letasha Montgomery said.         
            Floyd’s close friend Caitlan Hogan comes into the store on her off days to help out. She says the store has really helped her dive into comics more than ever.
            “I didn’t get to read quite as much before but now that I’ve been helping Stephen, I’ve been able to read all of this new and exciting stuff that is coming out. Every time I come in I leave with something new to read,” she said.
            Opening up the store has helped Floyd create a relationship with his neighbors and people from all scores of life even in the short time it has existed.
            “One of the things I love about comics is that you can open up a comic and get a sense of the aesthetics or the story you want to see as opposed to a normal book where someone has to recommend it to you. You can carve out what you want to see,” he said.
            The best part about running the shop Floyd says: “Seeing kids come in and discover new things that they never even thought about before.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Allen Street gets $300K boost from state

The Allentown Association recently received a $300,000 grant from the Better Buffalo Fund for renovation of businesses and improvements of the street. The grant covers all of the Allen Street corridor and a small portion of Elmwood Avenue. Jonathan White, the president of the Allentown Association, says that the potential of the grant was promising. By Melissa Burrowes

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Annual celebration features Nepal culture

Krishna Niroula, right, dances while being accompanied by a Nepalese band during the annual Dashain festival hosted by the Bhutanese Nepali Cultural Program in the Concerned Ecumenical Ministry on 286 Lafayette Ave. The 15-day celebration from late September to early October features food, dance, music and other aspects of Nepali culture. By Tiera Daughtry and Vincent Nguyen

Buffalo Closet to open Elmwood location

Chris Wolfley of South Buffalo with his Buffalo Closet items bought online

None of the clothing hanging on racks in Buffalo Closet is new, that’s the point.
            Jerseys on walls are made by Puma and Starter, two sports brands that are reminders of the past. Well-aged hats showcase old Buffalo Bills and Sabres logos.
            Co-owners Derrek Hoffman and Vince Stano started Buffalo Closet because of their love for vintage clothing and their hometown sports teams.
            The 26-year-olds began their business on Instagram and are now in the process of opening a store at 168 Elmwood Ave. with hopes to open this month.
            “I grew up during the 90s,” Hoffman said. “I don’t really remember the Super Bowls or anything, but any time I got my hands on vintage clothes from the 90s, I held onto it. We kind of just had all of this vintage gear that we’ve been collecting over the years and we decided to post it on Instagram and see if we could sell some of it because you know, you can’t hold onto all of that, and it just kind of took off from there.”
            The store both buys items and accepts items for consignment from customers.
            The store will be open during Bills away games, so customers can watch the games while they shop, Hoffman said. By Dave Deluca and Patrick Koster

Library branch offers ESL kits to patrons

          The Niagara Branch Library has a history of service to all people by offering English as a Second Language (ESL) kits to its patrons.
          The kits include books, CDs and sheets of foreign languages-to-English pamphlets. They also provide passwords to two online learning programs that the library has purchased. All can be accessed with just a library card.
          Suzanne Colligan has worked as a librarian for 16 years, a year-and-a-half at the Niagara Branch.
          “Many people use this kit to learn English. Ultimately the goal is about earning citizenship for some people,” she said.
          Colligan added that the library has served immigrants from as far back as the Italian immigrants in the 1950s and more Hispanic people in the 60s and 70s. Today, many of the kits are for Eastern-Asian and African immigrants.
          “Many new arrivals need to learn English for a new job,” Colligan said. “Some are more confidant and excited to be given an opportunity. Some have never even seen a library in their home country.”
          The learning programs,, and translate over 50 languages. SCOLA users can view videos that teach different phrases for different situations.
          Colligan believes that as more people look for a better life in America, the ESL kit will become even more apparent in Buffalo. One of the places she expects a wave of immigration from is Puerto Rico, that she identifies as not having a good economy lately. By Tony Callens and Benjamin Joe