Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Southern Junction to move to Connecticut Street

 Ryan Fernandez, owner of Southern Junction, slices through brisket as his restaurant prepares for a big expansion.  Southern Junction has served as a Texas-style barbeque and curry takeout restaurant on Chandler Street since 2020.  However, this summer, the restaurant will be expanding to 367 Connecticut St., the former site of Black Sheep restaurant, which closed a year ago.  Due to COVID-related restrictions, Fernandez was never able to fully open his restaurant to the public.  This left Southern Junction as a takeout-only restaurant, which put limits on Fernandez’s menu.  “Barbeque is best eaten fresh.  There’s been a lot of menu items I haven’t been able to do because they just don’t hold well to travel.  Now I’ll be able to bring those items back,” Fernandez said.  With plenty of extra space to work with, the expansion to the new location will now allow Southern Junction to operate as a dine-in restaurant. By Justin Siejak

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Cafe puts coffee in cups, cats in arms


The recent rise of animals entering shelters and rescues post pandemic has given more reason to  Buckminsters Café, 577 Niagara St.,  to promote cat adoptions in Western New York through its partnership with Second Chance Sheltering Network, Inc.. Molly Hutton, owner of Buckminsters Café, explains what influenced the rescue partnership. “I just thought it could be a mutually beneficial situation,” said Hutton. “We could have, you know, a nice size group of their cats here, gave them another place to showcase their cats.” All cats are medically pre-screened and socialized before coming to the café and are transported by Second Chance providers on Mondays and Tuesdays when the business is closed. Since the café’s opening over three years ago, Buckminsters has helped 647 cats get adopted and plans to continue finding each feline friend find their forever homes. By Carly Lawson

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Parker takes gambit on Different World of Chess

Brandon Parker and chess grandmaster Barry Davis face off in a chess match.

 By Justin Siejak

Brandon Parker has loved chess ever since he was a child, so he decided to open up his own shop to share his passion with others.

A Different World of Chess, 661 Main St., is a brand-new chess shop for fans of chess to come together and celebrate the game that they love.  Owner opened the shop in November 2022.  Parker said it means a lot to him to be able to open his own shop.

            “I’ve been around the game for a while.  It’s my favorite pastime.  To be able to serve as a spot to continue to build the chess community means a lot to me,” Parker said.

            Being one of the few chess shops in Western New York, Parker said his shop has played host to people of all different types of backgrounds.  


Parker, on the process of opening his shop: 



            “We get a wide variety of people who come into the shop.  Older people and younger people.  Just the other day I had a pair of brothers come to the shop who were straight from Germany.  I played against them, and they were strategizing against me in German,” Parker said. 

            The shop serves as a place where chess fans can purchase all the chess necessities such as boards, accessories, chess pieces, and books.  On top of this, the shop is also home to open-play, as well as several chess tournaments hosted by Parker himself.

            “Fridays we have Blitz tournaments that are pretty fast paced.  Those tournaments start at 6 p.m.  Then on the weekends we have tournaments with 30-minute timers on the game,” Parker said.

  Experienced chess players come to the shop to play against each other, however, Parker says the store is also a great place for people who are new to the game and want to learn more.

“Seeing new players learn more about the game is always cool.  To help them out, we have all sorts of minigames and exercises to help newer players understand the game more,” Parker said.

Parker has been close to the game his entire life.  He said that chess is comparable to certain aspects of life.
            “There’s a lot of similarities between the game and life.  There’s always holes in the path that could derail your plan.  Especially coming from the inner-city, that’s how it was for me.  You’re always thinking about your next move,” Parker said.

Barry Davis, who is a chess grandmaster and chess teacher, is a regular at the shop.  He said that the shop has been a great spot for him and his friends to come play the game. 

“This is a great spot.  I always look forward to chatting and teaching about the game.  It’s always a great time when the fellas can meet up here,” Davis said.

            Parker worked diligently to ensure that his new shop was a vibrant, lively spot for all chess fans to enjoy.

            “I didn’t want it just to be plain-Jane. I painted the walls.  I got pictures.  I really wanted to make it look like an art gallery,” Parker said.

            The shop is still in its early stages but has already proved to be a popular spot for chess fans all over Western New York.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Refugee Film Festival marks 5th year


The 5th season of the Western New York Refugee Film Festival is here. Journey’s End Refugee Services is presenting a set of six films throughout the year that tell the stories of refugees from around the world. The next film, "Someone Like Me," follows a young gay man from Uganda leaving everything behind to begin a new life in Canada and premieres remotely at 7 p.m., March 26. The movies are free, but registration is required. Director of Marketing and Communications Kathy Spillman said the film festival is meant to spread the voices of refugees to the public and helps draw attention to the various programs and services Journey’s End provide for those in need. By Andrew DiMartino

Friday, March 3, 2023

Vet plans next book on werewolves


West Side Veterinarian Dr. Timm Otterson visited the Burchfield Penney Art Center on Feb. 16, to discuss his book “All Creatures Weird and Dangerous.” Dr. Otterson is a veterinarian at Summer Street Cat Clinic, 25 Summer St., and launched his book in April 2022. Since the launch of his book, Dr. Otterson says that he is happy with the support he has received. “I think that’s what I’m most pleased about is that my colleagues really are enjoying the book,” Dr. Otterson saids. “And that people who read the book find it very much in the style of the way that I speak and the way I tell stories, it’s like having a conversation with me.”  The veterinarian is working on publishing a short story in the future that focuses on “providing medical care for werewolves.”  By Carly Lawson