Eat. Shop. Drink. Shop. Give. Sing. Eat. Shop. Drink. Repeat. 

This is a great time of year for Hertel. Today is Small Business Saturday which is sure to have the avenue abuzz. And next week, seemingly all the shops and restaurants and bars will come together to offer a great holiday experience – one filled with music, refreshments, sales and other surprises.

I’ve learned, maybe because I’m a family man now (or maybe because I’m just getting old) that holiday shopping should be an experience that creates special memories. I’m not talking about the special memories of losing sleep and ditching family gatherings, or even worse, of tragic injuries from the mob scenes of crazed shoppers.

Rather, memories that consist of quality time with friends and family, genuine interaction between store owners and shoppers, feelings of excitement when truly unique gifts are found, feelings of fulfillment knowing your supporting the local community, great food, festive ambiance…the list could go on.

Believe it or not, those things do exist and I think you have a better shot at achieving those memories if you spend your time shopping local. So, as said last year on Small Business Saturday, make it a point to come to the neighborhood, not the mall.

Also, one last suggestion. As you focus on purchasing and consuming, give some thought to helping others that aren’t as fortunate.

During the Hertel Holidays on December 4th & 5th, Daily Planet Coffee Co., Vanity Salon, MAC’s on Hertel and The Antique Lamp Co. and Gift Emporium are all hosting drives and/or taking donations for worthy causes. And bins manned by the WNY Coalition for Donated Goods will be located along Hertel on Saturday to donate new and good used clothing which will benefit local needy families.

Tis the season for a lot of things, and giving is most certainly one of them.

Happy Hertel Holidays!

Hertel Holidays 2015

Frame-worthy Houses

One of the appeals of living in North Buffalo, or the city in general for that matter, is being immersed in the beauty and charm that comes with the 100+ year old houses.

We truly love our 1910 house with all its history and character and curb appeal.

So last year, when our friend Julia sent us a holiday card with a drawing of her house on the cover, we were impressed (and maybe even a little envious). Obviously, at that moment Karen and I both decided it was imperative that we have a drawing of our house done at some point as well.

Here’s where the funny part of the story comes in. I acted quickly and enlisted the services of Karen Matchette, the artist who drew Julia’s house. Our house on Saranac was precisely drawn, double matted, framed and wrapped in August – a solid four months ahead of Christmas! Surely a record for me.

Fast forward to last week, and Karen starts snooping around for the same person’s contact information to have the same drawing done for my Christmas gift.

We are sooo soulmates aren’t we? It was definitely cute that we both had great intentions for the same holiday gift, but it did add an element of stress. In Julia’s frantic attempt to preserve my surprise while staying a loyal friend to both of us, she did the only thing she could do and lied to my wife. Mysteriously, as the story went, the artist upped and moved of town last month.

Yea, not really, but it seemed plausible.

Karen didn’t let it stop her and she immediately reached out to another artist in town who does similar work in her own style – Dana Saylor. Given that I knew Karen was hot on the trail to get this gift for me I pulled an audible and gave her the intended Christmas gift on her birthday Friday. Here’s how it turned out:

Drawing 1

She loved it. We love it. Then we laughed about our parallel journeys toward getting this done. Then we immediately reached out to Dana with an apology and a request to rip up the check she’ll soon be receiving. Then we hung it up. Then we wrote this blog.

In the end, we have a permanent commemoration of our first home that will hang on our wall for years to come. Should we ever leave this old, beautiful house, it’s great to know that, through this picture, it will always be with us no matter where we are. And you as a reader, now have two wonderful references should you wish to have this done for your house!

Drawing 2

Brunch Strikes Back!

Think back to the Empire Grill Sundays. Those filled with bottomless mimosas and an all-you-can-eat brunch that was worth more than your $20.

Well, those days are gone but a kickass brunch at the same, renovated location isn’t. Mac’s Sunday brunch is totally different, and shouldn’t be compared to that of Empire’s. But what is similar is the A-game that is brought to the offering.

I had the pleasure of joining some fine folks for a “Buffalo Brunch Club” meal last week. My Sweet Baby Ray accompanied me and provided the only distraction from our fantastic feast. Cinnamon raisin bread stuff french toast, sticky buns, steakhouse hash with poached eggs and cheese blintzes were the orders for the table. (Ray got a grilled cheese – not sure if you care. Maybe you do. Or maybe the takeaway is that they have a proper kids menu and the restaurant is very much kid friendly.)


The Toast.


The Hash.


The boy.

I’m no food critic, but let me tell you, everything was delish (is that what food critics say?). Seriously, just awesome. The menu is unique and each option – including the coffees and brunch cocktails – comes with a creative take. It’s not your ordinary brunch that’s for sure. Oh, and the bloody mary. The Mac Daddy Mary. Just look at the picture. Bacon! Need I say more?

Mac Daddy Mary

So give it all a try, and if you can pull your attention away from your plate, I recommend staring at the Big Ass Fan.


WANTED: Street Art!

Calling all artists! The North Buffalo Organization has extended their deadline for the Mural Design Contest submissions. This is NBO’s first public art project and the winning submission will be painted on the huge (15′ x 75′) and highly visible wall on the side of the J&L Auto Repair building at 1127 Hertel.

For those that may be unfamiliar with public art, or may even question its significance, please allow me to offer some insight.

The idea of public art is predicated on a few very basic premises: to celebrate art and artists; to beautify neighborhoods and enhance their cultural identities; and to simply connect people and communities.

Public art takes on all shapes and sizes and can come to fruition in a few different ways. You’ve likely seen Shark Girl or the “you are beautiful” signs. Those are just a few of the many exhibits that came from Albright Knox Art Gallery and their Public Art Initiative. Then there’s amazing public/private collaborations like that of Savarino Companies and the Art Services Initiative of Western New York, which brought “Go!” to the side of a Cobblestone District building.

Go-Buffalo-NY-1 - Buffalo Rising

Hertel has even seen some public art courtesy of Community Canvases, a Public Art and Community Development Initiative that has put their mark on many utility boxes along the avenue.

canvas 1

Art lover or not, it’s hard to deny that these exhibits not only add beauty to our community, but character, intrigue and just flat out fun.

The goal for this particular project is no different from any of these and the opportunity is huge for both aspiring and established artists alike. So make the last few brush or key strokes (graphic designers are artists too!) on your work, and submit that masterpiece!

You have until Sunday, September 20, 2015 at Noon.


Above photo credits to Buffalo Rising, Community Canvases, and the North Buffalo Organization.

Room Buffalo, dominating.

You may say this is old news or I’m late in posting this (it’s a whopping three days late). My apologies – it’s been quite a busy month for me!

But regardless, I wanted to put this out there, and in case you missed it, let you know that it was a pretty amazing month for Room BuCelebrating-10-Years-room-buffalo-michael-p-design-buffalo-ny-hertel-avenueffalo.

In addition to celebrating ten years of great success, the high-end Hertel Avenue interior design shop, and specifically, Michael P. as designer, was featured on HGTV’s House Hunters Renovations.

You can read much more detail about it in Buffalo Rising’s article, here.

I just want to offer my public kudos to Michael P. and Room Buffalo for taking their creativity, style and expertise to the national stage and representing North Buffalo so well. Pretty damn cool if you ask me!

I also learned that August 9th was deemed Michael P. day in Buffalo. If I was mayor Brown, I would’ve done that too. Congrats again to them, keep up the good work! And for all of you, stop in and peek around – I’m sure your decor can use an upgrade!