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!

Springin’

This year’s first day of spring has me just delighted, and for a reason you may not expect.

The longer days and warmer temps that come with spring are bringing on a slow and flood-free thaw of the snow and ice that blanketed our turf for the past three months. And with that, something so very beautiful is unearthing.

No, not flowers. Yet, at least.

The beauty I speak of isn’t part of the spring renewal in the traditional sense, but it is really a sight for sore eyes and comes with some utilitarian benefit.

So what am I talking about?

CURBS!

Yep, that’s right. The Buffalo curbs are BACK! The reappearance of those small, beautiful, old, rugged rows of stone and concrete can mean but one thing: Cars no longer have to park on an incline in the middle of the streets.

And for that, I am simply delighted.

That is all.

Welcome to Buffalo, Alexandra!

This week we welcomed Alexandra Joy Fashana to the world and to her new home in North Buffalo.

In just a short 15 months, Karen and I have doubled the size of our family! What was 2 became 3 and then quickly 4. We are truly blessed to have a few happy, healthy, meatball kids.

Doing some quick math…I’ve calculated that my beautiful, amazing, strong, incredible wife was pregnant for 18 of the last 24 months. It was a breeze, and though I can’t speak for her, in looking back I’d say that time flew by.

I’m sure her sentiments wouldn’t be quite the same, and she’d say something more along the lines of “speak for yourself Charlie” and/or “give me a damn beer!”.

I’ll buy her a case – she’s more than earned it.

Taking the city perspective into consideration, I’m claiming we’ve done our part in contributing to the population growth in North Buffalo. I’m also predicting a nice ripple affect to be realized by all of our Hertel shops that will help us feed, clothe and entertain our kiddos. We may go broke, but we’ll feel good about it.

And following one of the worst winters in Buffalo history, something tells me that many families will be welcoming newborns into the world around the August – October timeframe. Snowvember babies are coming so for any of you with buns in the oven, best of luck!

Thanks for indulging me here, with this personal, somewhat off-mission Hello Hertel blog. I’m just too proud and too happy not to share.

Cheers and as always God Bless.

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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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