Summer on the Avenue

Lately I have been spending most of my weekends in Rochester, which left me feeling distanced from Buffalo. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Rochester; but I love Buffalo more!

So when I finally ditched the Flower City for Queen City, I decided to spend the whole day Hertel-Hopping.

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It all started on the beautiful flower adorned patio of La Tavola. They had me at their beautifully crafted cocktails, but their food was an absolute home run too. And the fact that all the patio flowers were from their next-door neighbor Floral Explorations, it was an icing on the cake.

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Once well fed, it was time for a leisurely stroll on the avenue. And strolling and shopping come hand in hand. Now, don’t stop reading already. I am not going to talk about skater dresses and accordion-pleated skirts (I mean I can..but I won’t).

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On that note, enter Second Reader Book Shop. Now if you are anything like me (translation: book nerd), this place is absolute heaven. Like the name suggests, they sell pre-owned, vintage and collectible books. Buffalo, New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright, comic books from 1950’s, vintage Mustang poster books- you name it, they got it. And I can personally vouch for their collection because some of my very prized possessions were bought here.

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With a bag of books on my arm and a warm smile on my face, I moved on to New Buffalo Graphics. Now if you have not heard of this place; you, my friend, are missing out. Designed by Michael Morgulis, it is the ultimate destination for Buffalo-themed prints and posters. And for the most part, most of his art is lovingly and proudly created at the back of this very store.

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After all the shopping, it was time to quench the thirst. And Caramici’s offered a perfectly cold beer on a beautiful patio with a public piano. I enjoyed my beer, watching the hustle and bustle on the avenue serenaded by the melody of a pianist.

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And then I decided to venture out to Buffalo’s soccer mecca, mes Que. Traditionally a Bills and Sabres fan, I do not really follow the sport. Nonetheless, watching all the soccer enthusiasts, decked in their respective jerseys, cheering for their teams was fun. And the beers only made it more interesting!

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That concluded my Hertel-Hopping. Needless to say, I had a very nice time- all within two blocks of my house.

After all we only get 99 days of summer, gotta make the most of it.

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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.

Oooooh BABY…

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72 and Sunny.

Open Patios and Iced Coffees.

Live Music and Dancing Kids.

Bflo and 716.

It is officially summer in the Buff! (about time, he said)

So when Canalside pulled out the rainbow adirondack chairs, and store owners started hanging flower baskets lining the street of Elmwood, we kicked off the Hertel Summer of 2014 with a banging Shop, Rock and Stroll!

While some red-shirt-clad glad dudes belted out their best tunes under the North Park Theater marquee, folks drank cold beers and bottomless mimosas (Didn’t forget you lovely ladies!) on the patio at Mes Que.

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A couple storefronts ahead, the folks at Room were killing it with their chalkboard humor (isn’t that everyday, you say!), not to mention their gorgeous window displays.

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Right by Belsito on Saranac, another band was busy playing for their most important fans; cute little kiddies, who were laughing and dancing to these melodies.

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And literally, mommies and daddies of NoBo were “strolling” their little ones, for it is the season folks!

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As I concluded my Shop, Rock and Stroll on one of these lovely patios, me and my friend clinked our glasses for a wonderful summer.

I could not help, but extend the toast for a better NoBo, for a better Buffalo!

Hip and Happening

After a long winter, we all look forward to the month of May. May means warmer days are in store, flowers are in bloom and patio beers are in my not-so-distant future.  The fifth month of the year also symbolizes Buffalo’s kick off to the summer travel season.  In my line of work as the Marketing Manager at Visit Buffalo Niagara, that’s kinda a BIG deal.  Most destinations are at their finest when summer rolls around and Buffalo is no exception.

CoverTo mark this momentous annual occurrence, our Buffalo Niagara Touring Guide rolls off the presses and arrives on our company’s doorsteps every May. My role as Senior Editor on the project has me offering insight on content. We can’t include everything so what’s makes the cut? What’s new? What’s hip? What are Buffalonians talking proud about? What would make someone in New Haven, Connecticut get up out of their recliner and make the 437 mile trip to Western New York?  It’s not all Bills games and chicken wings (although it IS the 50th anniversary of our saucy staple).  This year on our Hip and Happening list is Hertel!

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A full page devoted solely to Hertel Avenue. We tell prospective visitors to look for the marquee lights of the newly-restored North Park Theatre, to channel their inner interior decorator at room and to follow their nose to Romeo & Juliet’s. A few more shout-out’s to Mes Que and Modern Nostalgia and that there is how you make your neighborhood famous.

Interested in getting your hands on your own FREE copy? We’ll mail it to you! Request one here.

This year’s guide is truly our best yet, I know I know I’m biased but trust me on this one.

Once it arrives, bring it to Mes Que, we’ll share a patio beer and cheers to Hertel.

 

 

Is It Spring Yet?!

OK, it’s official. I’ve got cabin fever. This year we’ve endured a blizzard, a polar vortex or two, and a lot of snow. Basically just 3 straight months of relentless punishment.

I’m really not one to complain about Buffalo weather. I’ve long said our winter weather is part of what makes us Buffalonians who we are. But there are times when Mother Nature will test our grit, and for me, this is that time.

It’s been tough to muster up the courage to walk down to Hertel with such cold temps and icy sidewalks. Even this weekend’s 40 degree reprieve was diminished by the wind slapping us in the face. For us with a newborn, we can’t take the chance to be outside just yet. A shame since we bought a $4,000 stroller (OK drop a zero but I think you get the point I’m trying to make), and haven’t been able to show it off.

I just long for the fresh air…and patios…like this one:

Mes Que December

If you look closely, you might notice we’re sitting on the patio of Mes Que. You may also notice we’re drinking lovely fresh beers. What the picture doesn’t tell you is that it’s December 7, 2012.

Yes, remember the last few winters? When we could go out without the adornment of a scarf or gloves? We definitely got spoiled and it feels as if this year was the reality check we weren’t looking for.

Oh well. At least I finally own a snowblower.

For now friends, just keep your eye on the prize. The days are getting longer and the warmer temps are nearby. Here’s a Countdown To Spring just in case you’re really grasping for something like I am.

23 days!