Friday, October 22, 2021

Halloween celebrations planned for the West Side


      Halloween is a go this year for residents on the West Side.

            The Belle Center is having its annual Harvest Festival at 10 a.m., Oct. 23 at its Saturday Academy located at D’Youville Porter Campus School, 255 Porter Ave.

            The event is free and open to the public. Families can enjoy arts and crafts, pumpkin decorating, and a drone operating class.  Kids are encouraged to wear their costumes. The Erie County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will also be there with furry friends for the children to interact with. Masks are required.

            PUSH Buffalo is keeping the Halloween spirit alive with a “Trunk or Treat” event from 4-7 p.m., Oct. 28 in the parking lot at 429 Plymouth Ave.

             A trunk or treat is an interactive event where guests can drive or walk up to cars where volunteers will be dressed in costumes handing out treats. There will also be live music, snacks, refreshments, and games. Prizes for best costume, and best trunk decorations will also be given out.

             “It will be a small gathering and outreach to bring the communities together,” said Tyrell Ford, street team manager at PUSH Buffalo.

            Costumes are encouraged.  Masks are required and social distancing is suggested. 

            West Side Community Services, 161 Vermont St, is hosting a “Crazy Hat” party for seniors on Oct. 27.  There will be prizes for those who have the best hat, and then guests can enjoy a screening of the movie “Young Frankenstein." The event will start at 11 a.m.  Lunch will be provided, and there will be light snacks and refreshments as well.  Masks are required upon entry into the building.   By Angelea Preston and Jillian Kasmore




Sunday, October 10, 2021

Statue of immigrant family in works for Prospect Park

The pedestal at Prospect Park where a statue of Christopher Columbus once stood remains bare after being removed in July 2020.

Courtesy of

The removal was done by the Federation of Italian Americans after several Columbus statues were vandalized across the country due to the controversial history surrounding Columbus, specifically his treatment of indigenous people. Niagara district Councilmember David Rivera whose district includes the park said there were a series of meetings that happened after the statue’s removal that involved the residents of Niagara district and members of the federation to decide what should replace the statue.  Judge Frank Caruso of New York Supreme Court 8th Judicial District and chairman member of the federation said the new monument will depict an Italian immigrant family. Caruso said the new monument would be erected next year. By Jillian Kasmore and Angelea Preston

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Breezy Burrito welcomes queens and fans to brunch

Layla Love struts her stuff at Breezy Burrito


Golden Delicious engages the crowd
Queen Laylah Love performs for the crowd at Breezy Burrito Bar during the Easy Breezy Fetch Drag Brunch on Oct. 3. Breezy Burrito Bar,1000 Elmwood Ave., embraces the LGBTQ community by hosting a drag brunch for people to come and admire the queens. This interactive event has four queens dressed in costumes dancing around the bar and entertaining the crowd. Breezy Burrito is the latest Buffalo bars and restaurants to host the popular event, one of the recent developments recognizing the LGBTQ community in the city. “I love being part of change. I feel like I am part of a Drag Renaissance,” Love said. Breezy Burrito Bar plans to continue having the Drag Brunch as a reoccurring event. By Evan DiPasquale, Michaela Frazier and Danielle Stiegler

Friday, October 8, 2021

High school football teams take a hit during pandemic


Canisius Crusaders take the field during a recent game

By Evan DiPasquale, Michaela Frazier and Danielle Stiegler

            Fans are cheering, players are face to face, the whistle blows, and the ball is kicked off.

            High school football is back in action on the West Side. After a long break due to COVID-19, high schools on the are able to have their fans in the stands and players on the field. However, the time off has affected the teams and how games are carried out from now on. Football season usually starts in the beginning of the school year, but for many teams it started in the spring.

            Two teams that were affected were the Hutch Tech Engineers and the Canisius Crusaders.

            Hutch Tech took a break from football until the first game on April 3, and it had a big impact on all athletes. The players were not only affected mentally, but also physically due to the pandemic. Gyms were closed, and students did not have the resources they needed to maintain their athletic physique.

            Coaches are working overtime to make sure their team is back to its full potential. They are able to have a full practice and players are able to use the to use the weight room at school to make up for out of shape players.

            “A lot of kids that normally would train with us didn’t necessarily train with the team this time around. They weren’t in as game shape as they should be because the team lacked chemistry. They knew the plays, but they didn’t know how to play with each other,” Engineers Head Coach Tony Truilizio said.

            COVID-19 is still a concern at big gatherings like high school football. Protocols need to be followed to make sure fans and the teams are safe. For public schools like Hutchinson Technical,  there are guidelines that still have to be followed. Public schools are mandated by the state to follow the COVID restrictions: symptom check questionnaires, temperature on arrival, and social distancing in the stands. Masks are not required but encouraged. 

            “If there is a positive COVID-19 test I’ve been instructed to notify my principal and the athletic department once I’ve been notified,” Truilizio said. 

            Truilizio said that he is grateful his players are respectful and considerate when it comes to doing what they can to prevent contracting the virus. He has not had a COVID-19 case yet on his team.  His players know that if they do not feel well, they should stay home to protect the rest of the team. 

            Canisius is ranked No. 1 in New York State, according to MaxPreps. Bryce Hopkins, associate head coach of Canisius said that last season was a frustrating. 


Canisius Director of Athletics Jim Mauro on the challenges facing high school sports during the pandemic


           Due to COVID-19 teams couldn’t play games and that meant a lot of students couldn’t be scouted, obtain scholarships, or get offers from other colleges. This hurt the players as the National Signing Day was in February, and the Crusaders wouldn’t play until March, which limited the time scouts would get to see the games. Many students at Canisius lost their chance at different dreams, schools, and lives. 

            Not only did football have to be moved to the spring, which would completely change the season's schedule, but Canisius’ season was cut in half. The team played both St. Joes and St . Francis twice, as well a game against Iona Prep in New Rochelle, NY.

            During their season Canisius had to pause their season due to a positive COVID test. In Erie County, it is mandatory that teams with more than one positive case must take a break in the season. Like any team, it hurt them because the athletes couldn’t practice or play in games. The school really makes sure that all their students stay safe.

              “We distance in our team meetings; we generally break our meetings up into positions group which allows us to have smaller indoor compacities in rooms.” Hopkins said.

            To ensure that the team wouldn’t have more outbreaks, Hopkins said that he often talks to his players and making sure they are being responsible. Coaches of the Crusaders have also encouraged the athletes to get vaccinated, but vaccination is not required to play.

            Both Canisius and Hutch Tech along with the rest of the teams on the West Side are gearing for the rest of their 2021 season. Hutch Tech has three more regular season games, and Canisius has five games.

West Side theaters announce protocols for guests


            Pianist Fabio Bidini wears a mask alongside Conductor JoAnn Falletta and members of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra during rehearsals in preparation for opening night at Kleinhans Music Hall on Sept. 25.

             Kleinhans, 3 Symphony Circle, began implementing COVID-19 protocols on Sept. 11 that require any guests, volunteers, or anyone else who enters the building to wear face masks, have proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test. The protocols are expected to last until Oct. 30. 

            Patrick O’Herron, director of marketing at Kleinhans, said the BPO is committed to the safety of its musicians, staff, volunteers, and audiences.

             “We are trying to make this a safe place, and make people feel as comfortable as possible to return,” O’Herron said. 

            The BPO has been following New York Forward guidelines and working closely with local and state health officials including a group of doctors from the University at Buffalo medical school.  The doctors conducted a series of air quality studies at Kleinhans.

             “We have outfitted Kleinhans with the MERV-13 air filtration system, hands free ticket scanning, and hand sanitization stations throughout the hall,” O’Herron said.

            Other West Side theaters have established similar protocols:

            AlleywayTheatre  requires proof of vaccination for all audience members, staff, volunteers, and guests.

            The Kavinoky Theatre requires its patrons to have proof of vaccination upon entry, or a negative COVID test within 48 hours if unvaccinated.

            For Ujima Company, all guests will need to be vaccinated, and must show proof of vaccination at their time of entry.  Exceptions include guests under the age of 16, or those who need reasonable accommodations due to a disability, medical reason approved by a doctor, or religious belief. 

            Beginning Oct. 28, Shea’s Performing Arts Center will require all guests to be vaccinated for entry for performances at all three locations, while children under 12 will be allowed entry with adults who meet vaccination requirements. By Jillian Kasmore and Angelea Preston


Saturday, September 25, 2021

Businesses staging a post-Covid comeback

Gabriel Burgos-Nieves, general manager of The Black Sheep

By Angelea Preston and Jillian Kasmore

            Joe Tyson rushed to open the door to his barbershop, Tyson Cuts, with his young daughter in tow. He was running late for his first appointment of the day, a 9-year-old boy getting his annual back-to-school haircut. 

            “Hey Eric,” said Tyson as Eric plopped down in the chair. Tyson asked what kind of cut he wants, and after Eric told him the style he wanted, Tyson began cutting while speaking on how the pandemic affected his business. 

            “It was a slow climb to get back to normal, after the five months of being shut down,” Tyson said.

            Tyson opened his barber shop on 259 Carolina St. in June 2019.  Within a year, his business like many others across the state would be shut down multiple times due to the pandemic. 

            Uncertainty, fear, and doubt were heightened when COVID-19 hit in March 2020. Some small businesses on the West Side were grossly affected financially, while others benefitted from grants given by the government. 

            Ever-changing restrictions, the race to get as many people vaccinated as possible, and variants of the coronavirus have made an already difficult situation more perplexing. As businesses are still trying to navigate this new normal that doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

            For GabrielBurgos-Nieves, general manager of The Black Sheep Restaurant & Bar, 367 Connecticut St., food prices continue to go up due to a decrease in food availability. 

            “I don’t know the figures for sure but when we look at our local farms that we get our pigs from, we look at our chicken farms, we’re definitely seeing a shortage, and because of that we’re seeing a price increase,” Burgos-Nieves said.

            However, food shortages and price increases aren’t the only things the pandemic has changed. New York City became the first U.S city that required proof of COVID-19 vaccination for indoor dining. That’s something that has piqued the interest of Burgos-Nieves, and the owners of The Black Sheep. 

            “Right now, we’re kind of leaning towards requiring vaccination status,” Burgos-Nieves said.

            With the setbacks, there have been bright spots that have helped ease the storm. 

            In response to the pandemic, New York State administered an $800 small business recovery grant program.  According to Gov. KathyHochul’s office, more than $48 million has been given to 2,380 small businesses in the state.

            Tommy Mims, owner of Off The Beaten Path Tattoo Shop, 205 Grant St.,  worked in another shop as a private contractor for 10 years. He was then able to open his own shop during the pandemic. 

         “It was probably the best thing that could have happened for my business financially because all the money that was able to be given to business owners through the government helped me tremendously,” Mims said.

       For Joe Petri, owner of Gather and Game,  205 Grant St.,  said gaming sales have stayed steady. 

       “It’s a hobby people can do at home with family or roommates.  Even when quarantining has in some ways grown in popularity,” Petri said. 

Hiring not a problem for some businesses

    Small businesses on the West Side might be seeing hiring getting easier now that the $300 unemployment bonus has expired, one being the Lexington Co-Op, 807 Elmwood Ave.

            The co-op recently put hiring signs in its  windows and is having no problem getting applicants.  When the unemployment bonus was offered last year some of its employees took advantage of the extra cash and decided to leave their job. As of Sept. 5, the bonus was terminated and as a result Human Resource Denise Terrell has been scheduling multiple interviews a day.

            Terrell said the store is following the guidelines set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention “to a tee,” Terrell said.   

            This means the store is not requiring the vaccine but is recommending it. All workers and customers must be always wearing a mask.  Social distancing is still encouraged, and the stickers are put in place at the checkout lines to make sure people are 6 feet apart.

            The co-op usually has no problem with finding employees. Terrell says this is due to how well the store treats its employees. The store offers an hourly wage of $17, health insurance, paid time off, staff discount and 401(K) Retirement Plans.

             “We look for candidates that have a sparkle,” Terell said. By Evan DiPasquale and Danielle Stieger

Monday, May 10, 2021

Webinar to promote co-op business model

By Rhiannon Browning

            In an ideal world, workplaces would not be unfair. Each person would be treated with respect along with equal pay. There wouldn’t be one boss who yells at their staff. Everyone would be the boss.

            Co-operation Buffalo has hopes for the city to hop on board with the Worker Co-op Jumpstart Webinar.

            “The webinar is about four hours long and is for anyone interested in starting a worker co-op or wanting to be a part of one,” Michael Heubusch said, a cooperative development specialist for Co-operation Buffalo.

            Heubusch said the event will dig into both the business aspect of a worker co-op, along with the value side of it.

            That includes anti oppressiveness and how to handle conflict in an emotionally mature way. This tends to be an issue in many businesses that aren’t co-ops because there is typically one owner and several staff members who feel that they have been underpaid or taken advantage of.

            With a co-op, everyone is an owner, which leads to a less competitive workplace, Heubusch said.

            “We just want folks to leave with a better understanding of what the current economic landscape is, how co-ops fit into that landscape, how to start one up and then how to maintain it,” Heubusch said.

            The non-profit organization, began in 2014 created by Andrew Delmonty, the program director. Heubusch and Delmonty were the only two full time employees at the time.

            Their mission? Providing guidance to beginner co-ops and financially helping businesses without the fear of paying back hefty loans.

            Co-operation Buffalo is a member of Seed Commons, a national network that provides non-extractive loan-funds to small businesses.

            According to Co-operation Buffalo’s website, a must pass through the following to be accountable:

-       Shift economic control to communities.

-       Democratize wealth and the workplace.

-       Advance ecological restoration.

-       Drive racial justice and social equity.

-       Relocalize most production and consumption.

-       Retain and restore cultures and traditions.

            At this time Co-operation Buffalo is still in the start-up phase, and a major project in the books.

            In 2017, the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center, 257 Lafayette Ave., used the help of Co-operation Buffalo and is now a fully functioning worker co-op. Theresa DiMuro-Wilber, a co-owner,  said that since becoming a worker co-op, the daycare has been based around fairness and guidance. She is grateful for Co-operation Buffalo.

            “Co-operation Buffalo helped us to create our new business model, shepherded us through changes to our decision-making processes which included giving all employees a voice, and stood by us through the entire transformation,” DiMuro-Wilber said.

           The Worker Co-op Jumpstart is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. May 22.  The webinar is free.  






Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Tilth Farm preps for season of fresh produce

By Hannah Turnbull

            With spring fading and summer quickly approaching, it’s the time of the year where favorite fruits and vegetables make their return. West Side Tilth Farm is working extensively to deliver the freshest produce to the West Side community.

            The farm, 246 Normal Ave., provides naturally, organically grown produce using sustainable sources. The farm believes in using minimal technology, with most work being done by small hand- or battery-operated tools. Twenty-six solar panels have been installed to drive the power behind the farm. These solar panels help power the cooler, greenhouse fans, and charge the tools used in the field.

            West Side Tilth is committed to using organic growing practices for its produce. All soil is imported and placed atop a geotextile barrier, which prevents the migration of possible contaminants. Implementing techniques like crop rotation and protected culture mitigate the spread of disease.

            West Side Tilth Farm grows everything from carrots to tulips. Everything is grown according to the season, as well as being fertilized naturally, owner Carrie Nader said.  

            West Side Tilth has sought to make fresh produce more accessible to the city. The farm works with local businesses to sell its products. Businesses like Shop Craft, Wild Things, Marble and Rye, Butter Block, and The Farm Shop all sell produce from West Side Tilth.

            Shelley Isaacs from The Farm Shop, 235 Lexington Ave., said there is a mutually beneficial relationship between them and West Side Tilth Farm.

            “They’re great. We support each other, even on social media,” Isaacs said.

            The Farm Shop sells nearly all of West Side Tilth’s produce. Right now, onions, tulips, and lettuce are popular.

The farm has been providing fresh produce to the West Side since 2017. They are known for their annual farmers market held in the summer season. The farmers market will be open this summer from July to November. The market will be open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  where West Side Tilth and other local vendors will be selling products. West Side Tilth will be selling its produce and handmade pizzas. The pizzas are made with a slow-fermented crust and topped with the farm’s very own vegetables.

Despite preparing for a busy summer season, Nader acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the farm.

            “The hardest part was not knowing what to expect. It was a lot of ‘what if’ planning.” Nader said.

            Last year’s farmers market was cancelled due to social distancing concerns.

West Side Tilth is a unique farm aside from its sustainable sourcing. The farm accepts payment from those apart of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and Farmers Market Nutrition Checks. These are both national programs that have been established to help people afford fresh, healthy food.

            “It’s great to have fresh produce in any urban environment. They’re giving these people access to healthy food.” Isaacs said.

            Though the farm is not open to the public, West Side Tilth hosts several special events throughout the year.  








Salons manage under pandemic restrictions

   By Liberty Darr 

            Salons up and down Elmwood Avenue are continuing to embrace the changes being made in the wake of a global pandemic, all while trying to maintain some amount of normalcy. Getting your hair done is an experience that not only brightens your day, but it also offers a safe place to let go of the stresses that plague our everyday life. As places around the country have begun to open their doors for service again, salons have been forced to operate much differently than ever before seen but nonetheless still with the same charm and relaxation tactics that were so loved before the global pandemic.

            At Studio 806 on 806 Elmwood Ave., plastic barriers separate stations and a limited number of customers are allowed in at a time. Stylist Sierra Manne, who has been with the salon for two years, said that recovering from the second shutdown was the hardest part of this year.

            “I lost a lot of my clientele after the second shut down. People are simply too scared to even still get their hair done. There is only so much I can do to creatively build my clientele back up, it all depends on if people feel safe or not,” she said.

            Studio 806 joined salons across the state in taking a number of precautions in order to maintain cleanliness and protect their clientele in order to make sure that people feel safe, but still for some, even that is not enough.

            Salon owner  Sally Lococo from Kallista For Hair on 721 Elmwood Ave. said returning to normalcy is a dream that she is looking forward to everyday while at the salon.

            “I am looking forward to getting back to normal, especially having a normal amount of people in the salon. We have taken a pretty big hit since we only take one person at a time. It is also difficult when people come on to wear a mask, because it’s hard to tell exactly what someone is going to look like with a new hairstyle,” she said.

            For most salon professionals, doing hair is a very personal experience, and the lack of interaction has become increasingly more difficult.

            For eyelash technician Bella Formanski at Studio 806, she shares empathy with the stylists as her experience is very similar. 

            “When I do people’s eyelash extensions, it’s only us in the room so it is pretty cautionary. Formanski said. But it also is very isolating as I am not used to it being like that. While people are wearing masks, it’s important that they stay above the nose even throughout the entire eyelash extension process which can sometimes be difficult. But, the hardest part, like I said before, is the isolation.”

            Salon professionals have spent the better part of this year trying to recover from major losses in income as well as a loss of consistent clientele.

            The increase in people getting vaccinated has been the saving hope for many salon professionals, as they begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a hard and trying year.






Wednesday, April 28, 2021

West Side farms gearing up for market season


By Shania Santiago

            With the spring season rolling through, the farming season has already started taking off. West Side farmers are busy at work to make their preparations for the approaching 2021 season.

            5 Loaves Farm, 70 W. Delevan Ave., is just one of the farms that have already kicked off. The farm is recognized for its commitment to producing healthy foods for neighborhood residents.

          The farm’s preparation for this year can be traced back to this past winter when it began to produce its greens. Manager of 5 Loaves Farm Matt Kauffman said the harvest has begun and the farms greens can be purchases at the Massachusets Avenue market or Chandler Street market.

            Last year, Kauffman noticed an increased amount of interest in the farm’s produce from the public in comparison to previous years.

            “There was a lot of interest from our customers, from our community, and local food production,” Kauffman said.

            Kauffman hopes that the farm is able to keep the momentum going for this year’s season.

            WestSide Tilth, 246 Normal Ave., is another farm that has started preparing for the upcoming farming season. Carrie Nader, operator of WestSide Tilth farm, believes it is super important for people to know where their food is coming from.

            “It’s such an amazing opportunity to do this right in the middle of a neighborhood,” Nader said.

            Kale, collards, and onions are a few of the things already being planted in the farm’s greenhouses. After only being able to have a small farm stand last year, WestSide Tilth is currently looking to get a farmers market going for this year.

            “We’re going to invite a few other vendors on Saturdays, when we’re open,” Nader said.

            The farmers market will be open from July through November this year.

            Pizzas with homemade dough and fresh vegetable toppings, that are grown right out of the farm, will also be making a comeback after not being available last year. This time around the pizzas will be offered two days a week instead of one.

            With the COVID-19 pandemic breaking out last year, there was a lot of uncertainty for Westside Tilth, Nader said. Looking back, she believes the farm could have done a lot more. 

            “Last season we scaled back just because we didn’t know what things were going to look like, what people were going to be allowed to do or what was going to be safe,” Nader said.

            Nader is looking forward to being able to move on from last year’s farming season.  She hopes that people are starting to feel more comfortable and safer for 2021.

            “I’m really excited to have some sort of sense of normalcy back,” Nader said.