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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Italian Fest Hangover

I just completed the Grand Slam – conquering the Italian Fest all four days.

Yes, I have it easy being just a one block stroll away. But that didn’t appear to stop those that needed to bike or drive their way in. Nor did the weather on Saturday, which still drew a good crowd despite the rain.

As an Italian-American who grew up on so many of the foods and traditions shared at the fest, it’s a great source of pride for me to have the Italian Festival located in North Buffalo – where I call home, and, according to the latest census, more Italian-Americans call home than any other neighborhood in Western New York.

While North Buffalo today is a great conglomeration of people – a melting pot for sure – it’s nice to have the focus on one of the main cultures that helped shape the neighborhood.

To the residents of North Buffalo: you are fine hosts. It’s not a small ask of a neighborhood to close their streets and open their doors so-to-speak to 200,000 visitors. And yet, we wrap up another successful year of showing off “il nostro quartiere e la cultura”. (Google it)

To Campi’s Pizza and Romano’s Bakery: your welcome – I made a significant contribution to your bottom line this week.

To the North Park Theatre: nice touch with showing Italian movies all week!

To The Public House of Buffalo: thank you – your new spot served as a safe haven from the rain on Saturday and your staff, atmosphere and beer list gave me 72 of reasons to come back.

All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the direction the festival keeps heading with each year seemingly bringing more and more Italian traditions and culture to the forefront. There’s so much more to our heritage than just the typical foods and songs everyone can name, and I think that’s really starting to show at the fest.

Can’t wait for next year! Ciao!

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.

 

 

Empire No More

As I sit here moping about not being witness to the Goo Goo Dolls show at the North Park Theatre tonight, I figured I’d post my sadness about the recent news of the closing of Empire Grill.

Empire Grill announced on Sunday via their Facebook page that they have closed for good. The media quickly picked up the story. I guess it was inevitable, as rumors surfaced a few weeks and months ago, which turned out to be accurate, just premature.

It’s not really clear from what I’ve read or heard as to why they closed. All that’s been said is that owner, Nick Kotrides, was looking to sell all three of the restaurants he owns.

Nice to see the Hertel Ave location was the hottest commodity!

I recall so many experiences at Empire Grill, and quite honestly, every single one of them being good. From some corporate and Ad Club events to regular all-you-can-eat Sunday brunches to some epic private New Year’s Eve parties, I can honestly say I’ve never had a bad time or bad meal at Empire.

I know that wasn’t the case for everyone, but for whatever reason, I’m sad to see it close. But to end this post on an optimistic note, it’s great to see things happening so fast. New owners expect to close on the building soon and reopen it by summer. I wish them great success and hope that they put together a unique concept that will regularly fill such a big, but awesome building.