Hertel: Holiday Edition

Off we went, me and my trusty cafe-au-lait (skimmed milk please) from Spot- to take in the sights that Hertel Holidays had to offer.

Wasn’t I cold, you ask?

Parts of Buffalo were buried under seven feet of snow a few weeks ago and made national news- of course I was COLD!! But if you know Buffalo, you should know that the cold never bothered us anyway! And my sentiment was echoed by all the people who came out.


While some came to see their neighborhood all decked out in christmas lights, others were drawn by the carolers Fa La La, and some just wanted a glimpse of the man in red- our very dear Santa Claus.


From the usual staples we have come to expect from Hertel-the ever gorgeous window displays at Room, Mr. Morgulis sharing stories through his Buffalo-themed art, North Park Theater‘s marquee shining in all it’s glory, to some new feathers in Hertel’s cap- a new chocolatier on the block, a very hip decor store, and newly restored stained glass windows of Shea’s North Park.

FullSizeRender-8FullSizeRender-12FullSizeRender-13It was a celebration not just of the holiday season, but of all the people-from the ones who call this lovely neighborhood their home, to those who made this their second home by establishing their businesses here- who bring your Hertel and my Hertel to life.



Happy Holidays!

Another snowball in the face?

Here we go again.

Blizzard of ‘77. The infamous grab a six pack of ‘85. October Surprise in ’06.

Now we have the Snovember to Remember in 2014.

Each of these weather events are every bit as serious as they sound. They demand the attention of government support and national media. They’re damaging to property, city and town budgets, and our image. And not to forget, they can be life threatening.

These are the storms that everyone around the globe hears about and the images of such storms pop into their heads whenever the name Buffalo is mentioned – no matter the time, place or setting. We’re forever associated with snow based on a handful of “big ones”.

So what, right? Yes and no.

As a marketer, it’s a PR nightmare for our region. No matter how hard we try, changing people’s overall perceptions will be a continual challenge. Despite snow events like these ranking far behind catastrophes most other places commonly see (you know, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, wildfires, droughts), for some reason, snow seems to stick in people’s minds the way it does to our rooftops and car windshields.

As a lifelong resident, it can be infuriating. Our opportunities to make the national spotlight are limited; it’d be so much better if we had the chance to fill those timeslots with the billion other great things going on here.

Nobody likes to be constantly reminded of tough times.

I can’t think of anything worse than vacationing somewhere and telling people I’m from Buffalo, only to hear the “is it snowing?” comment. In June.

It’s funny how weather gives people and places a certain stigma if it’s perceived to be always bad and a blatant arrogance if it’s thought to be good.

So where am I going with all of this?

As we dig out of this latest blast, and continue to be the focal point for all of the bad weather that the Northeast ever gets, I urge everyone to think about a few things.

Embrace it. If you’re not in danger, have some fun! How many other natural disasters let you go out and play games in the wake of the storm? Or better yet, enjoy the quality time with your family and favorite alcohol next to a fire.

Be part of the positive story. When the sky gives you slush, make a slushy? You get my point. There’s a good way to handle dealing with things, and there’s the way that adds insult to injury. Give a follow to Visit Buffalo Niagara, which is taking every step possible to see the creative and positive side of the weather, and join in on the fun.

Help someone. We NoBo’s have escaped relatively unscathed here. Take the time, once the roads open up and it’s safe to do so, to help out friends and family that may need a push or hand shoveling or a beer.

And most importantly, remember that all in all, we have it really good. We have four beautiful seasons of weather. OK, three and a half. But still, it’s pretty awesome. And really what it comes down to is we’re surrounded by genuine people, and their best shines through in moments like these.

Where else would you rather be, than right here, right now? Hawaii? Maybe. But I’m just fine in the 716.


Got a double for sale? Jay wants it.

If you’re selling, our friend Jay is buying. Read his 5 reasons on why he should be your home’s next owner.


Dear Residents of North Buffalo:

For four glorious years I was a member of your community.  I worked out at Terrie’s in a cut-off t-shirt and flexed my guns in the mirrors.  I played volleyball at Nichol’s. I hammered down more Poncho Villa burritos at Gramma Mora’s than I can remember, and on Sundays I hazily stumbled a quarter mile to Kosta’s for the best damn hangover food in Buffalo.  Life was good, North Buffalo. And I cherished every minute of it.

But, like a Bills Dynasty, all great things must come to an end.  And today this dispatch comes to you from another part of town.  A lovely neighborhood that lets me run along the water every morning and eat fresh picked cherry tomatoes from my neighbors garden at night.

But I miss you North Buffalo.  I’m older now and I realize that I didn’t truly appreciate your community for the vibrant, walkable neighborhood that it is.  I took North Buffalo for granted.  I’ve matured since then, North Buffalo, and now that I’m ready to buy a home I want back in.  I gaze longingly at the 198 on my drive into work and hope that someday, I’ll be able to call North Buffalo home again.

So, residents of North Buffalo, sell me your home.  A two-family right in the heart of the action.  Forget that empty nest couple looking for an income property and willing to pay $20,000 cash over asking price. You want ME as your neighbor.  I will owner-occupy the shit out of that home and I will be the best neighbor you have ever had.  Below, I have outlined a few of the many reasons why I deserve to call North Buffalo home again.

  1. Home Maintenance:  The home I buy doesn’t need to be perfect.  I will lovingly restore my future dwelling.  I will spend hours gently stripping paint off woodwork by hand with a tiny razor.  I will hire the great-great-great grandson of Darwin Martin to come into my home and hand make stain glass windows for my front door.  And when it’s finished I will proudly participate in EVERY Tour of Homes.  I will serve visitors food catered from Joe’s Deli and let them rifle through my underwear drawer while they pepper me with questions about the refurbished knobs I bought at Buffalo ReUse.
  1. Lawn Care: As a member of North Buffalo my lawn will be so perfectly manicured that the groundskeeper for the Buffalo Bisons will hire me as a consultant. In the summer I will spend a minimum 3 days a week outside working on my lawn shirtless.  I will gratuitously pour water on myself to cool down.  Unless you’re not into that sort of thing.  Then I’ll totally keep my shirt on.
  1. Tenants: We can’t have just anybody living in our neighborhood, North Buffalo.  So I will carefully screen all potential tenants.  I’ll require letters of recommendation from at least three sources, a credit check, and a security screening that would make Homeland Security blush.
  1. Buying Local: My home will be furnished with nothing but antiques and items purchased at ROOM.  I will dust off the cut-off and renew my membership at Terrie’s, and when I’m done pumping iron I’ll walk next door and ruin it all on chips, salsa and Poncho Villa’s.  Local businesses will know me better than staff at Cheers knows Norm Peterson.
  1. Hello Hertel: Karen and Charlie insist that I be a resident of North Buffalo before I’m allowed to join the staff of Hello Hertel.  You want me on that staff, North Buffalo.  I will weave beautiful word webs about our community that you will be proud to post all over social media.  I will do nothing but sit in Spot Coffee with my hipster glasses on and write about how awesome it is to be a resident of North Buffalo.

So there you have it.  I humbly ask that you consider my proposal and allow me to move back into our neighborhood.  I miss you, North Buffalo.  Admit it, you miss me too.


For more nonsense follow Jay on twitter @TheBigElevator

Our Lonely Tower

There she stands. Quietly overlooking North Buffalo.

Lonely Tower

An empty plot of land surrounds her, and many months have passed since the former Korean Methodist Church sat in tact, keeping her company. It’s been even longer since there was activity at that corner.

To me, this nearly demolished space is a reminder of the “old Buffalo” – blighted and defeated. But, if you look at it from a different angle (and I suggest you do), this very tower symbolizes the movement we’re seeing all around town. One of promise, hope, and revitalization.

This tower is destined to return to glory. Just like those grain elevators downtown and the countless turn of the century warehouse buildings we’re seeing slowly reborn.

You may have read a prior blog of mine showing the plans to build high end apartments around the anchor tower. Time may have passed, but the plans haven’t changed.

The good folks at Saranac Central Block Association reached out to the owner of the planned development, Sam DeFranks, this month and got this update:

  • The project is moving forward but at a slower pace than planned. The harsh winter caused a series of delays for most contractors.
  • The design and intentions remain the same and the goal is to have foundations poured and framing/building shell construction start late this fall/early winter.

In general the following tasks will take place in the coming weeks:

  • Parking lot will be privatized and fenced/secured (by Halloween)
  • Job trailer will be located in parking lot (by Halloween)
  • Concrete foundations will commence (November)
  • Framing/shell construction will follow foundations

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Sam a few times and his position has always been the same. He’s excited for this project and for North Buffalo. He’s a bit apologetic for the length of time it’s taking to get a shovel in the ground. And most of all, he’s thankful for the patience and support of the community.

Hang in there folks, good things are ahead!

Tower photo courtesy of Chris Bordeleau Photography (@buffcleb). 

Be a Good Neighbor

A letter to our neighbors:

Within the past month our beautiful corner of the city was ravished by two devastating fires – one on Lovering Ave and the other on Saranac Ave.

Today, a drive by either of these houses will leave you in tears. Putting a moment of thought into “what would I do if this was my house?” will probably leave you feeling helpless and hopeless.

Well, we can’t speak for either of the families that fell victim to these fires, but we’d assume that’s how they’re feeling. So as residents of the City of Good Neighbors, now is our time to step forward, like we always do, and help our fellow citizens.

Separate efforts are underway to help these families get back on their feet.

For Ms. Flynn of Lovering Ave, City of Good Neighbors tee-shirts are being sold with full proceeds going to her and her family. The website asks that you do your part by buying a tee and then sharing the link. “Kind of like the ALS Ice Bucket challenge but helping out a Buffalo neighbor in need!”

For the Siwirski Family of Saranac Ave, a donation site has been set up through gofundme.com. Incredbily, but not surpisingly, over $5,500 in donations have been received in less than 24 hours.

Please visit both sites to learn more and help out. And if nothing else, spread the word to your neighbors. Our thoughts and prayers go out to both families in this time of need. God Bless.


Charlie, Karen and Ray Fashana