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 cafĂ©-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.”

Black Dots spreads out in new location

Quinn Moore of Black Dots Records is excited for the store’s relocation  to the corner of Grant Street and Potomac Avenue, and what it means for the business,  The relocation from across the street from its original location gives the business more space to construct a bar  and improve the overall experience of its customers with a larger display of records and accessories. Moore sees the move as a vital piece of a long-term investment on the up-and-coming Grant Street area. By Thomas Corsi and Ryan Williams