Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Online comic-book seller adds storefront

TJ Veith
By Jasmine Huntley 
and Bianca Moise
As a child growing up TJ Veith would find himself with a pencil in one hand and his drawing pad in the other drawing superheroes for hours. As he got older his passion for drawing grew and he realized he can turn something that he loves to do into a business.  
Next month, Veith’s dreams will become a reality as he opens his  pop culture gallery, Flippin’ Comics. The new comic book store at 218 Grant Street, is just one of the many new businesses calling the West Side home.
Veith, a resident of the West Side, has been selling comic books online for the past five years. Flippin’ Comics  will not only be a place for customers to find collectible comic books but a shop where local and international artists can showcase their work. Veith combined his two passions of comic books and pop culture and created his first brick and mortar that will be both a comic book shop and a gallery dedicated to pop culture.
“Having a brick and mortar establishes a sense of legitimacy to a business where online presence is kind of fairweather,” Veith said.
Veith flashes back to a time where Grant Street was considered to be “sketchy” but now it has made a full turnaround and was the ideal place to fulfill his dreams of turning his online comic book publication to a brick and mortar.
Veith’s vision for Flippin’ Comics was to create a hub for art and music lovers in Buffalo. He plans to not only have comic books in his store but to have a platform for people creating podcasts, recording music, and showing their artwork.
Veith found success in art mainly on the social media site Instagram. Social media plays a large role in Veith’s business. He’s able to share his artwork with hundreds of people who share and repost his work, which he credits for being the reason his online sales have increased.


Veith seems to be bucking a shopping trend that is shifting away from storefronts in favor of the online marketplace.
 “People that do what I do with online sales that target comic books they’re the ones who spend the majority of the money because they are trying to resell, whereas an online consumer would usually buy one book and a reseller would buy comic books in bulk. Those are the people that will come to a shop like mine,” Veith said.
 Prish Moran, store owner of the Sweet Ness 7 Cafe who is also the landlord of the building where Veith is renting said Veith should set and keep regular store hours.
“Be consistent in your opening and closing hours, that is the biggest thing I see with new businesses. It’s slow, so they decide to close and that is the worst thing you can do,” Moran said.
Moran also disagrees with the idea that Grant Street is not safe.
“The media and everyone has made us believe that it is unsafe here, and that's not true things happen, sure they do but they happen everywhere,” Moran said.
Renovations for Flippin’ Comics are set to complete within the next month.

Concerns follow cut in water protections

President Donald Trump’s repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Act brings ambiguity to current water protections regarding the Niagara River watershed and other bodies of water across New York. The changes in regulation leave a grey area for organizations like the Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper working to protect the environment. Amendments through the repeal will leave the complex issue a matter of litigation and referral to decisions of past court cases going forward. Margaux Valenti, legal and programs adviser for Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, discusses the potential implications. By Tommy Corsi and Ryan Williams

W.S. native gets popping in new store

Lower West Side native Stefan Coker has started a brick-and-mortar business, What's Pop-in' Gourmet Popcorn, 418 W Ferry St. Coker, right, and co-owner David Whelan, left, opened the store on Nov. 2. “It’s super important to be here. My children go to school in Starpoint. It’s important to me that my kids see all demographics,” Coker said. What's Pop-in' Gourmet Popcorn boasts unique favors including Cajun ranch, beef-on-weck and apple pie. Coker and Whelan are getting set to debut their holiday flavors: gingerbread, eggnog, lemon blueberry and Claus crunch, which is a mix of Chex Mix, pretzels and M&M’s. They will also be revealing a new flavor on their Instagram page in the coming weeks. By Francis Boeck and Emmanuel Rodriguez

Monday, November 25, 2019

Compass House to celebrate Thanksgiving

Compass House, a shelter for runaway and homeless youth, will be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 26 for its residents and clients. Compass House will also be donating boxed Thanksgiving dinners to families in its programs. The resource center is located at 1451 Main St. and the emergency shelter is located at 370 Linwood Ave. By Gabrielle Kime and Conner Wilson

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Parking struggles grow on Grant Street

The growth of Grant Street has led to many headaches for business owners when it comes to parking around the corner of Lafayette Avenue. Steven Zaionz of Sweet_Ness 7 Cafe, 220 Grant St.,  and Vinnie Guercio of Guercio & Sons, 250 Grant St.,  feel the city needs to do something about it. By Francis Boeck and Emmanuel Rodriguez

Friday, November 22, 2019

It’s time to Gather & Game on Grant Street

By Christian Gaffney and John Propis
        When walking into Gather & Game, don’t expect to see ordinary games like “Monopoly” and “Sorry” but instead games you may have never heard of. Games like “Ticket to Ride” “King of Toyko” and many more you will find at Gather & Game.
        Located at 212 Grant St., Gather & Game is attracting gamers from the West Side and elsewhere. Owner Joe Petri, who also owns Westside Stories across the street, has been creating a fun gaming atmosphere for many to enjoy.
         Gather & Game has been open for about eight months, but Petri said he has seen good progress with the new store. He sees many new and old faces that come in every week.
        Gather & Game features over 200 games throughout the store and wants to bring in more.   The store carries many older games and a lot of new games as well and runs gaming tournaments. T-shirts, gaming cards and board games are available for sale.
       Josh Boyle, game coordinator for game nights every Friday, always pitches new ideas in order to help the store to draw more people in.
      “The more games we have the better. Right now, we have a couple hundred games, and the community is starting to build around us,” Boyle said.
       Gamers’ ages range from 8- to 30-years-old and pay $3 to play. A frequent gamer Nicholas Griffith, 26, says he loves coming to Gather & Game.
       “I live in Allentown, so this is this the closest gaming place for me. I don’t own a car so I usually either ride my bike or take the bus. This is a place where I feel comfortable at and have fun playing and learning new games each week,” Griffith said.
            Petri likes to provide a fun and comfortable for the gamers to play in and snacks and drinks for refreshments. There are memberships and tournaments to be entered to win cash prizes.
      “It’s hit or miss. On a bad night we will get four and on a good one we will get 10 to 12, usually around 8:30 p.m. is when more start coming. We definitely see an increase on weekends or when there are tournaments,” Petri said. 

Allentown now safer place to be at night

Falley Allen Bartender Hannah Dwyer and patron Scott Martin.
By Gabrielle Kime
 and Conner Wilson 
         It’s Friday night, and you’re out with your friends in Allentown. Based on its past reputation you choose to walk in a group to ensure your safety. 
          In years past, you would run into many nefarious characters and may even witnesses a fight or two.  Although tonight you notice that everything is simply fine.
Perhaps the area isn’t as unruly as it once was. Staff at Allentown bars sure think so.

Bars in Allentown are beginning to see a change in crime in the area.  The area is no longer the chaotic place it once was.

“When I started it felt like there were fights every night and there were cops everywhere,” said Madeline Barker, who has bartended at Falley Allen, 204 Allen St., for two years. “They do their patrols but they don’t linger too often.”

In years past, Barker said police had often just parked in one area of Allen Street, but now they have switched to active car patrols around Allentown at night.  Since then, she has noticed that there hasn’t been as much violence.

There have been four reported crimes in Allentown in the month of November, according to crimereports.com. That compares to areas such as the Elmwood Village with three reported crimes this month.

Clare Ahne, a waitress at Falley Allen, said working in Allentown is not exactly how she expected it to be.

“Even like six-seven years ago when my brother was going out, it’s getting safer,” said Ahne. 

Ahne, on greater sense of safety in Allentown at night:

“I’ve worked in this place for over five years,” said Amanda Markovich, bartender at The Alley Cat, 199 Allen St. “They’ve definitely upped the police presence.”

Markovich has noticed in the past few years that businesses have been doing their part to clean up the area and create a safer bar scene.

“The neighborhood has taken a stance,” said Markovich. “People are more involved to make it a safer place.”

Business owners and police aren’t the only ones keeping Allentown safe, residents have stepped up.  For example, an Allentown resident organized a clean-up on Allen Street just before Halloween, Markovich said. A group of residents spent Oct. 30 cleaning up trash on the street for all of the children trick-or-treating the next night.

“The police are around more,” Markovich said. “Businesses are calling them and working with the police now.”

The amount of people who disrupt customers and businesses has decreased, according to Markovich.

“There used to be a bunch of drugged-out homeless people walking into places,” said Markovich. “They must’ve moved off somewhere else.”

Hannah Dwyer, a bartender at Falley Allen, said that with the change on Allen Street, the chaos has seemingly migrated more downtown.

In past years, on Friday and Saturday nights, the bar used to be mayhem that can develop when crowds and alcohol mix, Dwyer said.

“I never walk out of here feeling unsafe,” Dwyer said.


Reddy Bikeshare ends for winter season

The first heavy snowfall marks the end of bicycle season on the West Side. From left, Matt Rebmann and Nate Schultz pick up the Reddy Bikeshare bike racks on the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway for the season. Reddy Bikeshare is a programthrough Independent Health that offers a bicycle rental service through which bikes can be picked up from any of the service’s racks. There are approximately 20 bicycle rack locations around the West Side. Rebmann said that the bike racks will be rolled back out around March and the program should be back up and running by the beginning of April next year. By Tommy Corsi and Ryan Williams

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Canisius educating young men for 150 years

By Francis Boeck and Emmanuel Rodriguez
            When he looks back at it, Tom Coppola’s decision of what to do for high school didn’t have much to do with where he wanted to go.
            It was about who he wanted to be.
            In the summer between his seventh and eighth grade year, Coppola attended Canisius High School’s Higher Achievement Program and quickly become enamored with the teachers of the program, realizing he wanted to be just like them.
            “It was immediate that I felt connected to the place, I felt like this was beyond just a school but a community that I wanted to be part of,” Coppola said. “All of the teachers were alums and they were all guys who I wanted to become. They went to cool colleges and projected to do these great things in the world and then they were just gentlemen. It gave me an idea of that’s what I wanted to be.”
            Coppola, ’01, later returned as a teacher and is now the Dean of Students at Canisius.
            He has also been running the summer program for the past eight years as well, introducing that same culture to middle school boys.
            It’s a cycle that has been going on for the past 150 years, since the Jesuits started Canisius on Ellicott Street back in 1870. It ash been at its current location at 1180 Delaware Ave. since the 1940s. 

Jay Josker, ’01, director of alumni relations, and Ken Liszewski, ’10, director of annual giving, reflect on the success of Canisius High School the past 150 years:    

            “It’s pretty cool,” said senior Daniel Sippel, a fourth-generation student at Canisius and high-ranking member of the school’s student government. “It’s understandable to see how this school has made it this far.”
            As a Jesuit school, Canisius works to create men who are “for and with others,” according to Coppola and Sippel. Canisius students are required to perform 100 hours of community service, locally and internationally, travelling to Nicaragua annually.
            Service is as important as academics, spirituality and athletics in helping to form the mind, body and soul of each student, Principal Andrea Tyrpak-Endres said.
            It’s that idea of shaping the whole person that brought Sippel to even consider pursuing medicine.
            “If you told me four years ago, that now I’m thinking about going pre-med or studying medicine for the purpose that I can interact with people for the rest of my life, I would not have believed you,” Sippel said. “It has come from things like retreats, service programs on the other side of the world and connect with people, it all builds up.”
              A few of the distinguished alumni Canisius High School can boast about are: the late Tim Russert, host of NBC’s “Meet The Press”; Tom Perez, current Democratic National Committee chairman; Tom Fontana, Emmy winning producer; Most Rev. Joseph A. Burke, former Bishop of Buffalo and Larry Quinn, former minority owner of the Buffalo Sabres.
            Qadree Ollison, ’14, and Ryan Hunter, ’13, are playing in the National Football League and several others on Division-I rosters. John Urschel ’09 recently retired from the NFL to get his PhD in math at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
            “People who have gone on to do incredible things in all kinds of walks of life also have an infinity to the place so they always want to give back,” said Coppola, who is also an assistant football coach. “When someone like John Urschel is always willing to come back, I think that’s unique. I don’t think most people have that appreciation of their high school like most people who went here do.”
            The school has arguably one of the strongest alumni bases in the region, with a footprint prominent both locally and internationally in many different walks of life. 
            “I never get on jury duty because they always say ‘does anyone know any of the attorneys or judges?’ and I say, ‘yes, I taught them all’,” Tyrpak-Endres said. “We have a lot of guys out there working at Roswell and Millard and in the court system and contributing to the business world in Buffalo as well.”
            But for Coppola, Canisius is more than his alma mater or place of work, it’s a second home.
            “Some of my best friends in the world are people I went to school with here,” Coppola said. “Now all of the sudden I’m at point where guys I’ve taught are getting married. I’m now seeing the connections from Canisius High School has in all parts of my life. This place is super important to me.”


Forest Lawn holiday production canceled

The Forest Lawn holiday season production of “It WAS a Wonderful Life” has been canceled due to a natural disaster within St. Matthew’s Cemetery in West Seneca.
The production of “It WAS a Wonderful Life” has been a Forest Lawn tradition since 2012. This production consists of some of the cemetery’s permanent residents giving musical and comical glimpses of Christmases past, when they were alive. The production typically runs from the end of November through December. All shows for this season have been canceled.
A statement issued by Forest Lawn Group of Cemeteries said, “A portion of the St. Matthew’s property collapsed into bordering Cayuga Creek, threatening the sanctity of more than 200 burials, which were at risk of falling into the creek.”
 The precautions taken to save burial sites and relocate others were estimated to $600,000 to date.
Refunds for already purchased tickets are available and Forest Lawn intends to re-install this holiday tradition in 2020.
Forest Lawn is also known for various walking and trolley tours. These tours range from architecture, and famous residents to historical Civil war tours. These tours are still instituted seasonally. By Bethany Clancy and Kristina DiBlasio

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Journey’s End seeks mentors for refugees

Journey’s End has launched the Refugee Asylee Mentoring Program, to help refugees make connections within the Buffalo area, particularly the West Side, says Program Director Paige Kelschenbach. The program will pair refugees with mentors, who will act as life coaches, introducing and guiding them through life in America.  The program is funded by a state grant for five years. After that the program will look to renew and expand, says Kelschenbach.  The program is accepting mentor applications.  Journey’s End offices are located at 2495 Main St. By Gabrielle Kime and Conner Wilson

Monday, November 18, 2019

Campus Walk establishes safety measures

SUNY Buffalo State student Nicole Stewart signs into a guest log at Campus Walk Apartments while the security guard Michelle Howell protects the front entrance of the building. New security measures were put in place in September for the two buildings,  
140 Rees St. Campus Walk made headlines in September when shots were fired during a fight outside the complex. More recently, robberies on the property have left residents feeling unsafe.  Robert Wombles, assistant general manager, made several safety adjustments to the property. “Guests now have to sign in once the office is closed for the day. Security officers are posted at exits in both buildings,” Wombles said. Campus Walk also has an after-hours emergency hotline.  By Jasmine Huntley and Bianca Moise

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Salvation Army to host Thanksgiving dinner

              With Thanksgiving just around the corner, The Salvation Army, is doing its part in providing dinners on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, for people who may not have anywhere to go.
             The day will begin with a worship service at 10:30 a.m. prior to the dinner, and food will be served at noon until 1:30 p.m. The events will take place at its main location, 960 Main St.
              Laurie Krajna, who is the development director for the Western New York region, has been organizing Thanksgiving dinner for the Salvation Army for over 40 years.
               They plan on serving over 200 dinners throughout the day, many to those who are homeless and would like to have fellowship with them.
              “Lots of new people come in each year to be part of our mission but also many of the same, some who are homeless, and a lot come who don’t have family or friends in town to share it with,” Krajna said.
               More than 50 volunteers come out every year and help on this day to serve the people, but the Salvation Army is always looking for more.
               “Most of the people that volunteer come in only on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we need people to reach out 365 days of the year to reach our mission. It is important to us that we give back and provide food and shelter to the one’s in need,” Krajna said.
                 Krajna has seen progress throughout the years during the holiday season, with more people willing to donate their time and give to others. By Christian Gaffney and John Propis

Albright art truck stops at Belle Center

The Albright-Knox Art Truck recently visited The Belle Center, 104 Maryland St., and Program Coordinator Vicente Rondon, led a  button-making activity with the children there. The Albright-Knox instituted its new Art Truck in October, “to bring art activities to different community centers in Buffalo, but not just Buffalo, but to all eight counties,” Rondon said. This is a free program and can be accessed by request form on the Albright-Knox website. By Bethany Clancy and Kristina DiBlasio

Monday, November 11, 2019

Sponge candy season coming up for Watson’s

Mike Watson runs the 738 Elmwood Ave. location of Watson’s Chocolates, a fourth-generation business that has been in Western New York for over 70 years. Watson's makes sponge candy by hand, from the beating of ingredients, to letting it rise, to slicing it and finally coating it with chocolate.  With the holiday season approaching, Watson says this month begins the company's busiest time of the year, with sponge candy in demand through to Easter. By Christian Gaffney and John Propis

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sweet_ness 7 Café owner expecting to sell

Sweet_ness 7 Cafe owner Prish Moran expects to sell the long-time gathering place on Lafayette Avenue and Grant Street.
By Tommy Corsi and Ryan Williams 
           On the corner of Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue, a grand brick building is glowing with the artistic mural below the blue awning that symbolizes the Sweet_ness 7 Café. To pull open the ornate front door reveals the home-style, old-fashioned space filled with the scent of coffee brewing and food sizzling on the flat-top behind the counters.
           The owner of Sweet_ness 7 cafe and The Tabernacle, Prish Moran, is looking to sell the building that has been the longtime home of her two businesses.
           Moran will continue to own both businesses and the current management will still carry out the day-to-day operations as usual until any further progress is made in terms of a sale. They hope to keep business running smoothly throughout the course of the sale when one is made.
           Moran opened the cafe in 2008 within the Victorian-era building that she purchased and successfully restored it to its now current artistic state that it has become known for today.
           The renovated building in its current state represents the creation that Moran had envisioned 12 years ago when she purchased the building.
           While 220 Grant St. is home to the Sweet_ness 7 Café, the building accommodates more than just coffee lovers and the early-morning crowds.
           “It is kind of like a conglomerate. The cafe has always been the anchor point for everything, but the storefronts and the apartments upstairs add to it all,” Steven Zaionz, café general manager, said.

Steven Zaionz says it's business as usual ahead of the possible sale of the cafe.
           The building includes renovated apartments and storefronts along with the Tabernacle and the Sweet_ness 7 café for which it is most knownThe renovations included turning office spaces upstairs into apartments, and completely restoring the area that is now known as the Tabernacle, the event space next door to the cafe.
           “I hesitate to say much about the selling of the place, because we don’t really know much at this point,” Zaionz said. “I think (Moran) is just ready to move on from the business side of things, step back and spend more time with her family."
           There has been no public discussion of when the change of ownership is planned to occur, and at this time no potential buyers have even been identified. It has only just recently been discovered that Moran now has plans to sell the building at some point in the future.
           It is said that Moran hopes to sell the building along with her business to someone who will continue to carry on the legacy of her empire and continue to serve the community in a similar fashion as she has throughout the years.
           The cafe can be seen as what was the beginning of a movement that brought a flux of businesses to the Grant Street area.
           “After Prish opened this spot up you really saw other people start taking an interest in the neighborhood and starting their own small businesses around this area,” Zaionz said.
           The café has become a relied-upon neighborhood gathering place, so regulars such as Alaysa Dale, a Virginia Street resident, are hopeful that new owners will continue to operate it as it has been.

 Dale, on her impressions of Sweet_ness 7:

           “She has owned the spot for as long as I have been going there, which has been over the past four or five years,” Dale said. “The place is pretty unique because of the focus from around this area she had put into it. But I have faith she will keep it in good hands.”  


Allen St. repairs a headache to businesses

Siobhan Taylor, store owner of Ms. Eye Candy Boutique, stands at her storefront at 85 Allen St. with construction underway behind her. Taylor says that businesses such as hers on Allen Street have lost not only foot traffic, but have minimal space to park because of the construction to widen the street. “It’s just been a deterrent so we're not getting the drive through traffic,” Taylor said. The construction has been going on since early March and it is expected to finish up in summer of next year. By Gabrielle Kime and Conner Wilson