That’s a Big Ass Fan!

I walked in to MAC’s on Hertel for the first time on Monday night with no intention of writing about it; mainly for fear that I’d be late to the party. While it’s only been open for a few short weeks, there’s been no shortage of reviews and updates over the interwebs. My friend “Tsuj” from the Buffalo News gave a good one after his first visit there and Buffalo Rising had it covered as well.

Then I saw this big ass fan…
 …and couldn’t resist writing some words about it and the place in general.

The picture does the fan zero justice, but trust me when you see it slowly spinning around the restaurant ceiling like a wind turbine your reaction will probably be the exact same. What’s even better is that I’m told that the fan is actually made by a company called Big Ass Fans. Priceless!

You’ll do a lot of “looking up” at MAC’s because, frankly, there’s a lot to take in. The fan hovers over the open space that is the 360 degree bar area. A billboard size mural of Buffalo from the Pan American Exposition adorns the back wall. TV’s line the dividing wall between the first and second floors.

Clearly, much thought and care was put into every detail and it doesn’t look as if expense was spared either. The MAC’s trolley which offers free rides for groups of 15 or more is evidence of that.

Trolley

I will say I drank more beer than I ate food on my first visit. But of the few appetizers we shared I will say they were glorious in that stick-to-your-ribs kind of way. I’m looking forward to trying out a number of things on the unique, old-time, Buffalo themed newspaper menu…hopefully from the new second floor balcony next time.

Now it goes without saying that I want all businesses to succeed and thrive on Hertel. But I think I want that even more for MAC’s. It’s just too big, too new, too awesome of a place in the heart of Hertel to not be a real destination. Good luck to them, and to each of you, enjoy!

Revisiting the Tower

It’s been a lonely two years for the corner of Colvin and Tacoma.

In that time we’ve seen a fire rage through the roof of the old church, a near full demolition, development plans announced, questions asked, hopes raised, and of course, skepticism.

In that time we’ve done a lot of waiting too. But as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Plans for the development have changed since 2013 but the plan to develop hasn’t.

I had a chance to chat with owner Sam DeFranks a few weeks back. As one of the closest neighbors to the property I have a very vested interest in what goes down there so I try and track him down every few months. Despite me being the least of his worries (maybe because I’m one of his biggest supporters), he always obliges.

He talked about how he’s been fielding many questions, concerns and recommendations from residents near and far. He shared what makes this so much of a process and we mutually griped about what the past two winters have done to our souls and to stall the project timelines.

Sam was also very forthcoming in discussing the project itself. They’ve moved onto a new architect and are modifying the layout and design of the complex. It’s likely the initial plan for 40 units will drop to 27 or 28, allowing for more square footage per unit, larger parking spaces, and less congestion around entry and egress. If all goes well, approvals are received and contracts get signed, we could see work beginning in the next month or two.

To me, it’s very clear that Sam is dead set on getting this project right, and making the Bell Tower Lofts (assuming that will remain the name) a highly sought after residential space.

I remain excited and optimistic. Can’t wait to see that first shovel in the ground!

  

 

Poll Results: Our ‘Hood

A few weeks ago I asked what you thought of the name and brand, or lack thereof, for our beloved North Buffalo neighborhood.

Nearly 200 votes were cast and the results are below.

Poll Results

Not surprisingly, “North Buffalo” was the leader at just under 50% of the votes followed by the common “Hertel” and then a scattering of other connotations. A couple interesting write-ins were “NoBu (or NoBo)”, “Northside” and “Hertel East”.

“The suburbs” – submitted by someone with an Elmwood Village superiority complex and residing less than three miles south of Hertel Avenue – was promptly removed from consideration.

In most polls I’d say 49% is a definitive answer. But it leaves me still thinking we have a problem. That’s one out of every two people calling our neighborhood something different. A lot of chatter around the poll seemed to show some consensus on needing something more specific, memorable, or unifying. To me, absent of that, it makes it tough to build any type of momentum.

Unfortunately this won’t be solved any time soon, but I thought it was fun to think about. Thank you to all of you for voting and joining in the conversation. Possibly those with the time, resources, reach and government connections needed to spearhead a city branding initiative (hint hint HNBBA) will read this and start giving it some thought. I know there are a lot of people that would welcome the opportunity to contribute and we’d all benefit from the outcome.

Until then, call 14216 what you want…just keep supporting it!

Corner Table in a Cafe

You know the warm, fuzzy feeling that you get in a local cafe?

Yeah, the one that comes every time your barista steams the milk for someone’s cappuccino, or steeps a mug of <Insert your favorite here> fragrant herbal tea, or better still, takes out a fresh batch of oatmeal raisin cookies from the oven right when you step inside.

You get the picture, right?

Daily Planet is all this, and even more.

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This beautiful little (actually, not little) gem is conveniently located on the corner of Hertel and Parker, close enough that it was a two minute drive from my house on North Park yet far enough that it seemed tucked away in a quiet corner of the city.

A large (and I mean large) cup of green tea and a corner table by the window later, all my writing paraphernalia spread in front of me – I was ready to write about this new addition to our lovely ‘hood.

Except I walked out of the cafe almost three hours later, with three words in my diary- Daily Planet Coffee!

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Writer’s block, you ask? Oh no! Bloggers don’t have that problem (because we are not aiming for that Pulitzer Prize, nor are we scared out of our wits of “that” New York Times critic).

It was a heady concoction of the soothing jazz tunes, conversations overheard from the next table, the aroma of peppers and fresh mozzarella being sautéed together and my server’s slightly off-center grin- that I forgot what I came in for.

I spent those three hours, tucked away in a corner table, slowly savoring my green tea, watching the evening advance into night fall with soothing jazz being played in the background.

Best three hours I have spent in quite some time, I would say.

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Poll: What do you call our ‘hood?

I’ve been thinking. (insert “uh oh” or “watch out” or “finally”)

There are a ton of areas in the city of Buffalo that are distinctly identifiable by their name. In some cases, that name may be aligned to a main street or “drag” – in others, to something historic or unique. But in all cases, the name comes with an image. It also creates a destination while identifying you with a particular neighborhood.

The name is everything.

Think of the Elmwood Village, Allentown, Canalside, Chippewa, Cobblestone, Larkinville. Each of these have become destinations, filled with restaurants, bars and other amenities, flush with hustle and bustle. They’re marketable locales. They’ve become pockets of pride for the city and even trendy. Basically just places people want to be.

So what about North Buffalo?

It has all of the above and given the flurry of business activity and recent real estate trends, it has become, not only cool but also, a good investment to reside in 14216. But is thinking of it on the “North Buffalo” scale too broad? Meaning, without having focus on the center of the activity, maybe we’re missing out on what could be something even greater.

The above neighborhood names drive people to a place that usually in turn spurs some economic impact. It’s no secret that the backbone of North Buffalo is Hertel Avenue. The marketer in me would love to see us commit to creating something that reinforces just that. Reinforces a unified brand for the core part of North Buffalo – be it our avenue, village, district, borough or ward. Something we can collectively own, celebrate and promote.

Whether you’ve lived in the area your whole life or are a transplant, you’re likely all abuzz with the buzz so I’m sure this resonates with you. So what do you think? Do we need a once-and-for-all name? A brand? What should it be? Share your thoughts in the below poll!