And the winner is….Lloyd!

Pete Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo, founders of Lloyd Taco Truck say that “Lloyd” is a figment of the imagination, and can be whatever we want it to be. That mantra has provided them some flexibility in creating their story, which is getting better with each chapter. And their daily quiz of “Where’s Lloyd?” helped grow their brand and drive (no pun intended) their business.

Whenever I hear the name Lloyd I can’t help but think of the scene from Dumb & Dumber where Harry repeatedly tells Lloyd that he can’t triple stamp a double stamp. I’m sure these guys have similar fun on the road, but Chris and Pete are a far cry from Harry and Lloyd, and their taco trucks bear no resemblance to a shaggy dog on wheels.

Instead, these guys are leaders and pioneers in the local food truck and soon-to-be restaurant scene in Buffalo.

Tonight I attended the live viewing of Lloyd Taco Truck on “Restaurant Start Up on CNBC” at the North Park Theatre.

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As a quick aside, how cool that the North Park hosted this viewing party?! I love how they are catering to such a wide audience with their events and viewings and supporting local businesses.

OK, on to the real story.

Chris and Pete pitched their restaurant and business plan to the Restaurant Start Up investors….and WON! A cool $250K (with some strings) to take Lloyd to the next level.

Great news for them, us and for Buffalo!

With their new found investors, it sounds like all the unconfirmed rumors and confirmed rumors and hopes and dreams of everyone within the Lloyd staff and in the line for food may just be coming true. Which I suspect may mean more that just their first brick-and-mortar location (which is coming to Hertel soon!).

Seems like the sky’s the limit for Lloyd’s and I wish them all the best, and I couldn’t be happier for Chris and Pete – a few friends I used to play baseball with back in my grade school days. Great to see them not only achieving great success, but leading and innovating…and having fun doing it.

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The Public House

My friend Charlie calls Buffalo the world’s largest high school. And no, not that pre-pubescent time when everyone awkwardly tries to fit in with the cool crowd in the cafeteria.

It’s really about how everybody somehow knows everybody in Buffalo. Whether directly or once or twice removed, you’re able to identify a common connection to someone in the 716.

Public House 1The Public House, Buffalo’s newest and truest “neighborhood bar” is a perfect example of where those connections come together.

Given a different comparison, The Public House is the welcoming Buffalo version of Cheers. You know, “where everybody knows your name”.

My personal connections to this place are many. I went to high school with co-owner Sara. Her husband and co-owner, Frank, who seemingly everyone in Buffalo knows, grew a following from his time at Papa Jakes. I know bartender Nick from his martini making days at Cecelia’s, who turns out also works with one of my best friends, Sam. And guest bartender Lou, I met him separately through the above mentioned Charlie.

Those are just some of the fine faces you’ll typically see behind the rows of beer taps at the Public House. But then there’s the folks you’ll commonly see on the other side of that beautiful, reclaimed wharf wood bar. The last few times I was there I was able to catch up with great friends Sam and Ami, Katie and Matt, Jay, Kim, Molly, Phil, Allison, and many others.

And I’m not just making up names – these folks know who they are – and I loved seeing them there. (Hopefully they were equally as happy to see me.)

You just never know who you’ll run into. And that’s what’s great about the Public House. It just has that feel.

And when you leave, you’re always glad you came!

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Hertel Pizza Crawl

Confession: We have lived in our North Buffalo home for four years now and in that time, how many times have we ordered a pizza from somewhere on Hertel? ZERO.

Yep, never.

There are two main reasons for such an appalling stat:

  • Despite both of us being Italian and devout lovers of the ‘za, we rarely seem to order it at home.
  • Having grown up in the suburbs, Charlie and I were brought up on Bocce’s and Franco’s so when the need for pizza arises, we tend to head towards Kenmore Avenue and hit up one or the other.

After hearing a friend talk about a Kenmore Pizza Crawl they just completed, I said to Charlie it was the perfect time to tackle something like this for Hertel.

Let the weekly pizza purchases commence!

The criteria:

  • Must reside on Hertel Avenue between Parkside and Delaware
  • Must be a true pizza place, not a regular restaurant (so while La Tavola has AMAZING wood-fired pizza, we didn’t include them in this challenge)
  • Must order a cheese & pepperoni pizza to compare apples to apples (well, pizzas to pizzas)

The list:

  • Bob & John’s La Hacienda
  • Avenue Pizza
  • Zip’s Wise Guys
  • Daddio’s
  • Marco’s Pizza
  • La Pizza Club
  • Just Pizza

If you live in North Buffalo, I’m sure you’re reading this thinking, “Oh man, she better think _________ is the best.” So as not to offend anyone’s pie preferences or local business owners for that matter, I’ll refrain from getting too specific.

For me, based on my preference for spicy sauce, thicker crust and adequate cheese coverage (unlike most Buffalonians I don’t get giddy over a cheese blanket on my pizza), my favorite was Avenue. Charlie’s preference would be Bob & John’s. Without the ability to talk, our one year old gave two thumbs up to all of them.

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Are Avenue or Bob & John’s good enough to cause us to throw in the towel at Bocce’s and Franco’s? Guess you’ll just have to see where our car is parked come Superbowl Sunday.

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Hello Hertel’s 2014 Year In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for our blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The stats within the report put huge smiles on our faces. It’s incredible to see that you fine folks are picking up what we’re putting down.

It was our goal when Karen and I started this blog to share good news, extend positive vibes and just flat out have fun writing. I’d say we’re succeeding.

Special thanks to Meg Vaidya for adding her creative flavour and to our regular referrers: Hertel Avenue (@hertelavenue), NorthBuffalo.org (@NorthBuffaloOrg), ichoosebuffalo.com (@ichoosebuffalo) and whatsgoingoninbuffalo.com (@WGOINBuffalo).

Looking into 2015 we’re hoping to keep building on what we’ve started, and we’d love to introduce some more writers, so if you’re interested in blogging some North BuffaLove, let us know!

Have a blessed and prosperous New Year!

2015

Tom & Jerry: Kid Cartoon or Adult Cocktail?

10868044_10154944837165553_3029915743179346696_nOF COURSE IT’S A COCKTAIL, common now.

It’s the holiday season – the time when ugly sweaters (see my proud display on the right), horrible food arrangements and amazing, soul-warming beverages temporarily make their way into your life.

The classic Tom & Jerry is a sweet and spicy, frothy and foamy, addictive and awesome holiday drink. Overuse of alliteration aside, it’s a great libation to be enjoyed this time of year – whether it be home-made or served to you in the festive company of friends at your favorite local watering hole. Take a look at the goodness served to Karen and I from the Place on Lexington Ave in the Elmwood Village. If you add the warm charm of a wood burning fireplace and some dancing snowflakes outside the window, you’ll really be in a winter wonderland.

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Friend and fellow Buffalo Blogger, Katie Krawczyk, did a bang up job writing words about everything you need to know about Tom & Jerry’s. Finding them, drinking them, making them. It’s all there in her latest Visit Buffalo Niagara blog. (You’ll want to click that link.)

I actually am thinking about giving the home-made recipe a shot…we’ll see how that goes!

The list of locales offering T&J’s within Katie’s blog is extensive, but I thought I’d add in a potential Hertel option because my Hello Hertel contract requires I do so. While not promoted, rumor has it that the bartender at Lombardo’s will stir up and serve a very fine Tom & Jerry, should you ask.

And if by chance he (or anyone, anywhere) says no, just throw your smuggled in moose mug on the bar and ask for some good old fashioned egg nog!

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Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all of you fine folks!