The Hertel Brand

Maybe it’s a happy coincidence. Or maybe the folks at the Hertel Business Association were inspired by my two-part blog series posted a few months ago focusing on the area’s brand, or lack thereof, and how people refer to the Hertel neighborhood.

If you look at some of the points I tried to make, it came down to just two things. The first was that people call the Hertel area all sorts of things from the common “North Buffalo” and “HerteI” to the lesser knowns like “North Park” and “Northside”. And that point led into the second, that the core business district was lacking a true identity; a marketable name that can translate beyond the city limits and help spur additional traffic and economic activity.

So it looks like HBA, the group in the best position to take the lead on a branding effort, is now working to address that. Refer to their latest press release, which reveals an agreed upon name, a new logo, and also gives some detail on the background and thought process that went into the decisions.

Sure, maybe I would’ve liked to seen this come about in grander fashion with a big reveal and launch campaign, but that’s likely not realistic. (I’m used to the big budgets that come along with marketing for a bank.) And if I had more time, I would’ve volunteered to help lead the effort, but I’ll settle with thinking I was a part of it via this blog.

Hertel, I’m happy things are starting to happen.

Happy (716) Day at the Fest!

Today begins the annual four-day celebration on Buffalo’s finest avenue of the Italian heritage and everything that comes along with it.

Coincidentally, it’s also the celebration of Buffalo Day: 7/16. So in the spirit of helping fest-goers while finding cool ways to use our area code, I’m going to give you my recommendation on what to buy at the Italian Festival if you had exactly $14 in your wallet.

$7 – Steak and Dandelions from Lombardo’s. Don’t be scared of the dandelions. They’re sauteed in butter and garlic and are glorious. The cuts of steak are well worth the price too.

$1 – Bottle of Water from Bing’s. The coldest, purest, wettest, purified spring mineral water around. OK maybe not, but a buck is definite the cheapest. Stay hydrated people, it’s hot out there.

$6 – Stuffed Pepper Roll from Molinaro’s. Sausage and stuffing with three cheeses, rolled in dough and deep fried. Healthy AND delicious!

An alternative could be to find one more dollar and blow it all on three slices of Campi’s Pizza. Just throwing that out there. Oh, and by the way, they have TWO Campi’s Pizza stands this year – one at Commonwealth and the other at Virgil. Mind blown.

So there are some options for you. Hopefully you have more than $14 because there are a lot of incredible eats to be enjoyed…and I didn’t even talk dessert! The usual bakery suspects are all there filling and serving their cannoli, feel free to reference the extensive research done in 2013 to help with the choosing.

Buon appetito! God Bless Buffalo. Go Bills.

716 Fest

Rock star musician meets rock star neighborhood

Thursday: Mick Jagger asks for “the best Italian in the city”. Mick Jagger goes to Ristorante Lombardo.

Jagger2

Friday:  Mick Jagger asks to go sightseeing. Mick Jagger goes to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House.

Jagger

Rock star musician eating rock star Italian, admiring a rock star architect while taking in a rock star neighborhood.

Rock on Hertel!

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!