Rock star musician meets rock star neighborhood

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


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


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

Rock on Hertel!


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.

pizza face

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.

avenue BobandJohns

Got a double for sale? Jay wants it.

If you’re selling, our friend Jay is buying. Read his 5 reasons on why he should be your home’s next owner.


Dear Residents of North Buffalo:

For four glorious years I was a member of your community.  I worked out at Terrie’s in a cut-off t-shirt and flexed my guns in the mirrors.  I played volleyball at Nichol’s. I hammered down more Poncho Villa burritos at Gramma Mora’s than I can remember, and on Sundays I hazily stumbled a quarter mile to Kosta’s for the best damn hangover food in Buffalo.  Life was good, North Buffalo. And I cherished every minute of it.

But, like a Bills Dynasty, all great things must come to an end.  And today this dispatch comes to you from another part of town.  A lovely neighborhood that lets me run along the water every morning and eat fresh picked cherry tomatoes from my neighbors garden at night.

But I miss you North Buffalo.  I’m older now and I realize that I didn’t truly appreciate your community for the vibrant, walkable neighborhood that it is.  I took North Buffalo for granted.  I’ve matured since then, North Buffalo, and now that I’m ready to buy a home I want back in.  I gaze longingly at the 198 on my drive into work and hope that someday, I’ll be able to call North Buffalo home again.

So, residents of North Buffalo, sell me your home.  A two-family right in the heart of the action.  Forget that empty nest couple looking for an income property and willing to pay $20,000 cash over asking price. You want ME as your neighbor.  I will owner-occupy the shit out of that home and I will be the best neighbor you have ever had.  Below, I have outlined a few of the many reasons why I deserve to call North Buffalo home again.

  1. Home Maintenance:  The home I buy doesn’t need to be perfect.  I will lovingly restore my future dwelling.  I will spend hours gently stripping paint off woodwork by hand with a tiny razor.  I will hire the great-great-great grandson of Darwin Martin to come into my home and hand make stain glass windows for my front door.  And when it’s finished I will proudly participate in EVERY Tour of Homes.  I will serve visitors food catered from Joe’s Deli and let them rifle through my underwear drawer while they pepper me with questions about the refurbished knobs I bought at Buffalo ReUse.
  1. Lawn Care: As a member of North Buffalo my lawn will be so perfectly manicured that the groundskeeper for the Buffalo Bisons will hire me as a consultant. In the summer I will spend a minimum 3 days a week outside working on my lawn shirtless.  I will gratuitously pour water on myself to cool down.  Unless you’re not into that sort of thing.  Then I’ll totally keep my shirt on.
  1. Tenants: We can’t have just anybody living in our neighborhood, North Buffalo.  So I will carefully screen all potential tenants.  I’ll require letters of recommendation from at least three sources, a credit check, and a security screening that would make Homeland Security blush.
  1. Buying Local: My home will be furnished with nothing but antiques and items purchased at ROOM.  I will dust off the cut-off and renew my membership at Terrie’s, and when I’m done pumping iron I’ll walk next door and ruin it all on chips, salsa and Poncho Villa’s.  Local businesses will know me better than staff at Cheers knows Norm Peterson.
  1. Hello Hertel: Karen and Charlie insist that I be a resident of North Buffalo before I’m allowed to join the staff of Hello Hertel.  You want me on that staff, North Buffalo.  I will weave beautiful word webs about our community that you will be proud to post all over social media.  I will do nothing but sit in Spot Coffee with my hipster glasses on and write about how awesome it is to be a resident of North Buffalo.

So there you have it.  I humbly ask that you consider my proposal and allow me to move back into our neighborhood.  I miss you, North Buffalo.  Admit it, you miss me too.


For more nonsense follow Jay on twitter @TheBigElevator

Hello Old Friend

I hate goodbyes. I hate goodbyes in the airport. I hate goodbyes at parties. I hate goodbyes at the doorstep of your family or friend’s house that you don’t want to leave. Goodbyes are the worst.

I said goodbye to my friend Beth over seven years ago. Beth was looking for a fresh start so she packed up and headed to the West Coast. A goodbye like that is never fun because you never know when you’re going to see them again. Beth and I did stay in touch over the years thanks to modern technology and we managed to squeeze in a few face-to-face visits.

Fast forward seven years and three cities later on Beth’s U.S. tour, I now get to say hello. Hello Old Friend. In fact I could yell “HELLO!” out my kitchen window and as of today, Beth could probably hear me and shout it right back (or maybe “Hello Hertel!”). My old friend is back in Buffalo, North Buffalo to be exact. Beth is back in Buffalo for a variety of reasons but I’m sure she’d tell you that family, a good job and the buzz about Buffalo on the rise is what actually made her pull the trigger.

What made her choose North Buffalo? I’ll let her weigh in on that:

  • Hertel has a hip/fun vibe.
  • Great access to Delaware Park so I can get my run on.
  • Short commute to work.
  • My bestie lives there and she’s a reliable source on the cool places to live.
  • I want to have direct access to Kostas every day.

Hello Old Friend. Welcome Home.

Congratulations North Buffalo. We got another good one! Who’s next?


Hertel to House World Cup Fever

The arrival of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil marks a momentous time for soccer in Buffalo, and the spotlight will shine on Hertel Avenue as the epicenter of free-flowing futbol and national pride.

The international affair — which could garner even greater local attention than when the Wambach-Morgan-Solo-fueled U.S. Women’s National Team sprinted to the World Cup Final in 2011 — began at 4 p.m. Thursday with the host nation squaring off against Croatia.

Mes Que, Buffalo’s first soccer-only bar, is at the heart of the festivities; co-owner Tony Christiano and his cousin, Left Bank proprietor Mike Christiano, have devoted the last two years to growing soccer’s popularity in Buffalo by televising virtually every meaningful European and American soccer match at 1420 Hertel Ave., earning the trust and business of fans far and wide.

Because this is Mes Que’s inaugural men’s tournament, the bar has an opportunity to set the bar high for future large-scale soccer celebrations. Fortunately for the Christianos, the bar’s mantra for the tournament is nearly identical to its mission as a bar.

“We want Mes Que to be the place where all kinds of people — those from Buffalo and those visiting Buffalo — can share the game together,” Tony Christiano said in a short phone conversation.

Hello Hertel learned some of the specific plans:

  • World Cup at Mes QueMes Que will televise every World Cup match.
  • Two more televisions were added to Mes Que’s existing four inside of the restaurant.
  • A 60” TV has been stationed in the alley behind Mes Que, accessible from North Park Avenue or through the rear of the bar; that space is expected to accommodate between 300 and 400 people. Porter potties will be positioned in the alley.
  • A large TV box was mounted on top of Mes Que’s outdoor patio along Hertel, allowing passersby to catch a glimpse of — or stop briefly to watch — the matches.

Other businesses along Hertel have joined the fray, as Globe Market will air matches on its TVs, while Christiano is hopeful that Gecko’s will take part as well.

For a short time, Mes Que hoped to stream the U.S. games inside North Park Theatre, but when Christiano reached out to FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, representatives explained that such an approach would violate policy.

Mes Que has worked with local soccer supporter groups — from the Buffalo chapter of the American Outlaws to the Buffalo Soccer Council, a group of active, futbol enablers — to drum up interest and assure a raucous-yet-safe environment.

If you’re one of the folks whose soccer appetite is never satiated, the Buffalo chapter of the American Outlaws will host the Sunday Soccer Series at North Park Theatre, where soccer-focused films and documentaries will be shown inside the recently refurbished cinema.

“Victory,” “The Year My Parents Went to Brazil,” “Next Goal Wins” (the story of American Samoa) and a Bob Bradley documentary are just a few of the films that will roll on all Sundays from now through July 13 — excluding July 6, which is Independence Day Weekend.

Although the United States’ first match isn’t until 6 p.m. Monday against Ghana, prepare for soccer mania along Hertel between North Park and Norwalk. Even if you’re not a soccer fanatic, the chance to witness 32 prideful countries — as big as Brazil and as small as Uruguay — vie for the same goal can be a magical experience. And it’s just down the road.

Editorial Note: I can’t and won’t take any credit for this post. Admittedly, I know little about soccer and less about “futbol” – but in recognizing and appreciating its significance in the world of sports, I reached out to a local expert to provide this great Hertel insight.