Disclaimer: We’ve received no compensation from Romeo & Juliet’s for writing this post. We simply want to highlight locally owned small businesses for their hard work supporting our neighborhoods.
We’ve been going to Romeo & Juliet’s on Hertel for a long time. They’ve been open since 1998, but it had to be at least 2008 before we found it.
Tim & I are pretty social, and we love to be on the go most of the time. Don’t get me wrong, we love to relax too. But often, when we go for a run, a walk, or a bike ride, we enjoy something social afterwards. On Tuesdays after work, we used to go to Delaware Park for a run / walk. After that, we’d head over to Hertel for a bite to eat. One night someone suggested Romeo & Juliet’s, so we went.
Well, we’ve gone back again and again and again. It’s their food, yes. But it’s the friendly, casual atmosphere too. They have a sit down, full service dining room, but they also have a casual dining room, where you order at the counter and they bring it to you when it’s ready. That’s where we’ve eaten most of the time. Mainly because after a run and/or brisk walk, nobody in the real dining room wants to sit next to us! Haha! Seriously though, we’ve eaten in both rooms, and both are equally comfortable in my mind.
Something I Should Tell You
I guess I should have told you this when I wrote our first post about Buffalo food. I feel like I’ve been hiding something from you, so it’s time for me to fess up.
My diet is 90% plant based. I know, I know. I live in Buffalo, and I don’t eat chicken wings? Or beef on weck? Or pepperoni (cups) pizza? And, I’m writing about Buffalo food? Before you get excited, remember I said 90%. Basically, I eat healthy at home. Really healthy. And I do it for my health. Not everyone is blessed with excellent health. I find that this way of eating helps me to stay med free, soooo, I stick with it.
Look, I am from Buffalo. So I do eat meat and (blue) cheese occasionally, and sometimes it’s chicken wings, or pizza. I will, however, confess to never really being a beef on weck girl. I could walk away from that seven days a week. Sorry, Buffalo, you know I love you.
I’m ony telling you this so that in these food posts, you’ll understand some of my choices at the restaurants I’ll be writing about. And fear not meat lovers, you are the reason Tim will be along with me on every one of these forays into Buffalo food. He loves a good roast beef sandwich, wings and pizza. He also loves sausages, (sopressata, summer, Polish, Italian, salami, hot dogs) bacon, subs, clubs, meatloaf, steaks, seafood and more…
The Story of Romeo & Juliet’s
Here’s the story of Romeo & Juliet’s as I understand it. Romeo is Vito Semeraro, a baker, from Brendisi, Italy. He moved to Milan to learn the bakery business. And learn it, he did. Juliet is Susan (Incardona) Semeraro, who worked in marketing and communications, from Kenmore. The two met while Vito was visiting family here in Buffalo.
They fell in love, and married.
They went to Italy for a three week honeymoon and together they travelled all over eating at cafes and bakeries looking for ideas for their own place. Then, they came home and made it happen.
In 1998, they opened Romeo & Juliet’s in its first location on Hertel, and eventually moved to a larger space, where they are now at 1292 Hertel. Their vision of all homemade foods, from the bread, to the pizza dough, to the marinated veggies on their pizzas and in their sandwiches, to their salad dressings, to the fresh (and delicious!) baked goods, proved to be a recipe for success.
So much so, that they opened their second location on Sheridan Drive near Evans, and another one on Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda, with a couple of partners, Josh Guzzetta, and Mauricio Conti, who started as a waiter, and now manages both Sheridan Drive locations. A brief stint in Hamburg didn’t work out so well, it was just too far away.
Let’s Get Into The Food
The food here is outstanding, or I wouldn’t be writing this. Their pizza has won best pizza in Buffalo, I think more than once. For that matter, their salads could win awards. Always fresh, always delicious, and always perfectly dressed. And their panini sandwiches and specials? You get the idea. It’s all good.
All the baking still happens at the Hertel Ave location, and is shipped daily to the Williamsville and Tonawanda locations. I kind of like that. Because it means that no matter where you go, you’re sure to get the same breads and sweets at all three places, including the pizza dough. This is also a big reason the Hamburg location didn’t work out. It’s just too far to deliver to daily.
Let’s talk about the breads and doughs. Vito tells me he proofs the dough for a minimum of three days. He says it’s easier to digest when you do it that way. I like that Vito knows this. He also mentions that he bakes all the bread, with the help of Paulo Tagliaferri, who also keeps the books, and runs the dining room, and anything else that needs doing. Anyway, the breads are amazing! And incidentally, Romeo & Juliet’s were the first in Buffalo to serve foccacia bread – now everyone has it.
Now, this is my opinion, but bread gets such a bad rap now-a-days. Homemade, hand crafted, artisan bread, with good quality flour is the way it was before it became bad. The stuff you buy in the grocery store in bags is definitely not good for you. Even in the grocery store bakeries – ever look at the ingredients list? But Romeo & Juliet’s breads? They are definitely good for you, body and soul. These are authentic breads. As my cousin Steve said recently, there is nothing better than fresh baked bread, warm, with butter. Or tapenade.
Let’s talk about the tapenade first. Like bread & butter at most restaurants, Romeo & Juliet’s gives you olive tapenade with crostini. Fabulous. And I’m not even a big fan of olives. But this tapenade is truly delicious. I look forward to it.
Everytime we eat here, we study the menu and have trouble deciding. That’s not to say we don’t have our favorites. I love the Mediterannea Insalate or the Insalati di Juliet. Oh my goodness, both are fantastic!
And the pizza! Wow! My favorite is Pizza Bianca with garlic, fresh tomatoes, scallions, mozzarella and romano cheeses. So good! Tim loves the Quattro Formaggi and the Pizza San Vito…I can’t argue with those choices either!
Their paninis are creative, flavorful and delicious! I can’t even choose! But if you force me, I’d have to go with the Romeo & Guilieta – spinach, eggplant, tomato and provolone. Or the Alberti – turkey with tomato and provolone. Or…never mind. I’ll say it again. You get the idea. It’s all good! For a look at their menu, see their website.
We’ve literally eaten here at least fifty times. We always leave happy, and almost always with some sweets to go. For me, it’s the cuccidatis. Tim usually goes for carrot cake or cannolis.
Seriously, how can you go wrong? You can’t.
Vito tells me Romeo & Juliet’s has pretty much had the same pastry chefs since the beginning. As a matter of fact, a lot of the staff has been around a long time. Servers sometimes come and go, but there is a core staff here who are like family. Vito does everything here from the baking, cooking, serving, and yes, scrubbing toilets. He says he works alongside the staff, because he considers himself staff too. That’s good for everyone.
I continue to be impressed with restaurateurs here in Buffalo. They really know what work is. Vito arrives at work each day by 4:30am to begin the baking. He heads home around 2pm for a couple of hours, and is back for the dinner hour. And he stays until they close, at 8pm on Tuesday through Thursday, and 9pm on Friday and Saturday. Don’t forget that after closing, it’s another hour before the staff leaves. That is a long day. Every day.
And speaking of staff. It sounds like Vito has the best. During Covid, the kitchen staff stood right next to him and worked by his side through it all. The servers had to be laid off when they had to close the dining room, and all but one came back when they could reopen. This is not common. An awful lot of restaurants are struggling to find workers. I believe Vito knows what he has in his staff, and appreciates them.
Vito and Susan’s 21 year old son, Filippo, is interested in taking over the restaurant. Vito advised him, “If you don’t absolutely love it, don’t do it. Because it will become your life.” He looked at me, and said, “Baking is my life.”
It shows in your food.
I know I speak for all of Buffalo when I say that I sincerely hope Filippo absolutely loves it. That remains to be seen.
That said, Vito and Susan have plans to retire to Florida. When that’ll happen is anybody’s guess. Could be next month, next year or in 5 years. But they are going about making their plans. As a matter of fact, Susan was in Florida when I sat down to talk to Vito. Wish I could have met her. Vito tells me she is the idea person, the creative one and the brains behind all of it.
Vito? He’s the baker.
Visit the Semeraro Family, and their excellent staff, at Romeo & Juliet’s Bakery and Cafe at 1292 Hertel Ave, Buffalo.
**Use the ‘contact’ button at the top of this page to email me your suggestions on your favorite Mom & Pops, or locally owned places in and around Buffalo!
So. Trinity Place. I’ve admired this street for a long time now. The first time I walked it was several years ago, with a friend, after breakfast at Betty’s. We found ourselves wandering around the neighborhood checking out all the beautiful old homes. It must have been spring, because I remember all the tulips on the street in front of this particular fence, below. It looked stunning. I cannot believe I was able to find this old photo from that day. I must be getting better at organizing them.
And the person who takes care of the fence is right on with the fall look, 2021. Love it.
The homes here are old. Some as early as 1832. That’s the year Buffalo incorporated as a city! Love it! We’re going to look at all of them. The good, the bad and the ugly. Trinity Place has all of those, and more. Because there are some real treasures here too. Tucked away on this narrow little street that lots of Buffalonians have probably never noticed.
Knowing it was coming up on the list, I turned on it unexpectedly one evening on a bike ride with Tim. He was blown away! He had never seen it before. It’s a cool little street, up and coming, with a few problem areas, but nothing we can’t handle, Buffalo.
Come hike with me.
Those Problem Areas
Let’s get those problem areas I mentioned out of the way first. They are the first two homes on the south side of the street at South Elmwood. They’ve both been neglected for a long time. Ever since I can remember, actually. One is getting visibly worse. No info seems to be available about either one, though. Not that I can find anyway. Anyone?
The one with the for sale sign on it has a South Elmwood address. It’s got a storefront on the Trinity Place side, with what appears to be an apartment above that is probably empty. The rest of this long building appears to be apartments as well. I think some of them are being used, judging only by the cars parked behind it in a kind of large parking lot, that most likely used to be the yard or yards for a house or two that has been demolished. Can’t be sure about that, of course.
Next door to that is the home with the gaping hole in the corner of it, shown above. This is much worse than it used to be, and is so sad to see. The fence you see in the photo is the decorated fence (above) and behind it is the parking lot I just mentioned. There are always cars parked up against both of these homes as they seem to share that same parking lot out back.
It’s sad to see this happening. Especially because of their location at the corner of South Elmwood. The rehab of these buildings could go a long way in helping to bring back this section of Elmwood, which has a couple of bright spots, but could use a few more. Time will tell.
The Rest of the Street
Now, let’s take a look at the real Trinity Place. It’s a gorgeous little street with beautiful old homes. Let’s see them.
First up, these two apartment buildings are getting a face lift. One of the craftsmen told me they’ve both just been completely repointed where needed. Repointing is the removal of a couple of inches of mortar in between bricks and replacing it with new. It’s a big job! He also mentioned that the trim is getting a refresher as well, and the first and second floor doors are next (one door is complete). These two are looking pretty good and getting better!
Love the wrought iron on both of these.
This next one is lovely. Note the leaded glass on the first floor, and those windows in the peak! Nice!
This one, below, is in such great shape that I thought for sure it was owner occupied. But I’m told it isn’t. The owners are good people who care. Love that. Love the color choices here, and check out that light post. Old fashioned and fantastic!
This home, below, is so neat and pretty. I love the windows in the gable with the starburst above!
Did I mention there were treasures on this street? This one has been listed in the NYS and National Registers of Historic Places. Cool! There is a lot going on inside this gem. I could hear it from the street! This is definitely one to watch!
This one reminds me of the homes on Whitney Place several blocks away. It’s an Italianate style home with an Eastlake style porch. At some point, someone thought these two went well together, and they were right. This house is a fantastic city home.
I’m always so happy to see original windows on an old home. This is another Italianate design, (there are quite a few on this street). I’d love to know what type of shingles those are. I don’t think I’ve really noticed these before. The moldings and brackets at the peak and surrounding the porch make this one something special.
The Kinskie / Kinskey Home
It’s at this point that I’m going to tie two of the homes on this street together. This one, below, and another across the street and down closer to South Elmwood. I found a Buffalo Courier Express article from 1928 that discussed the ages of the homes, the street itself, and the city as a whole. It’s always interesting to read old articles like this. To me anyway. They give insight to what life was like in a completely different time. And if you’re like me, they incite daydreams.
I’ll give you a brief synopsis of what the article was about. It’s 1928, and there’s a man by the name of George Kinskey living on Trinity Place in the home above, whose grandfather also lived on Trinity, beginning in 1834, in this home below. His name was Basser Kinskie. (The spelling of their surname has changed slightly over the years.)
Basser Kinskie and his wife came over from Austria in 1834 and purchased this (then) two year old home pictured below. The home doesn’t look all that different today than it did in 1928. The pedimented windows have been replaced. But on the whole, it appears very similar. The plot is still the original 25 feet wide by 200 feet deep it was in 1832, when the home was built.
Changes on Trinity Place
But the article went on to say that a lot had changed on the street since 1834, when the Kinskies moved in. First off, the address of the house was 34 German Street. My best guess is that the street name was changed sometime around World War I. The road wasn’t paved in the 1830s, nor were there street lights, obviously. George Kinskey had tax receipts from 1837 for the original home at 34 German / 51 Trinity Place. The city tax paid was $.75, and the county tax was $1.40. (!) In 1928, when the article was written, the city taxes were $107.24 and the county tax was $21.97. Why the county tax was so much less that year, I couldn’t say. But I can tell you with certainty that the tax bill has gone up since then! Haha!
The city changed as well. The northern edge of the city grew from North Street over to Kenmore Ave. And the population went from 15,000 in 1834 to more than 500,000 in 1928.
The article stated that although George Kinskey’s children wanted their father to move to a more modern area of the city, George wanted to stay through at least 1934, so that members of the family would have lived on the street 100 years. Sweet.
Below is a community garden. I’m told that a lot of neighbors pitch in to grow everything, and anyone can partake of the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. I love this. Community gardens are such a good thing for a neighborhood! They bring people together.
This one, below, is coming around on the opposite side of the street. It has great bones, but could use a little love. I especially like the patios!
This one, below, is a quintessential Allentown home. There is at least one very, very creative person living here. And if the gardens look this good in October, I bet they were amazing in the summer!
Is This Hollywood?
And what have we here, below? This home is so unexpected on this street! Why does it make me think of Mary Pickford? You know, the old Hollywood actress. This house is like a smaller version of an old Hollywood home. I can’t believe this is in Allentown! Love it!
Also, note that the Hollywood home is on a pie shaped piece of land. It falls right at the curve in the street. This is one of those neighborhoods where Buffalo streets converged with Black Rock streets, creating these interesting little twists and turns in our street patterns. Also creating some funky shaped pieces of property, like this pie shaped one, on the inside of the curve. And the one across the street where the community garden is, where there is extra room. It’s part of the evolution of Buffalo. And I happen to think it’s cool.
This next one is beautiful, from what I can see of it. The trees are awesome, and they must keep the porch nice and cool in the heat of summer.
Next – Meet Rhonda
It’s at this next house, below, that I met Rhonda. She lives here with her husband, Dave and two kids, and spoke openly with me about the street, her neighbors and the neighborhood as a whole. Considering that I caught her as she was going down the street to help a friend with a reno project, she was remarkably patient and didn’t rush off. She even allowed me to walk down the street with her while we chatted.
Rhonda moved here 15 years ago with Dave, and their then four month old son. Theirs is a double lot and it’s Rhonda who clued me in to just how deep these properties are. The single lots are narrow, in most cases 25 feet. But they are long and go way back! Rhonda and at least one other neighbor keep chickens in their yard. As a matter of fact, the bucket that holds reno supplies that she’s carrying down to her friend’s house, is topped with a bowl containing three fresh eggs for that neighbor. So unexpected in the city – and yet really cool!
While we chat, she tells me how they’ve watched the street change in the past 15 years. When they first moved in, Rhonda said the neighborhood was “sketchy at times”. I can see that, especially 15 years ago. But they wanted to stay in Allentown so they bought here, and have watched as the street has slowly improved. And I think they may have contributed to that in a much bigger way than Rhonda would have admitted. She spoke about her involvement in the neighborhood very humbly. I like that.
When the home next door, below, sat empty, they went to municipal housing court to complain, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. In the end, Dave and a friend of his fixed the home up and eventually it sold. Rhonda tells me they are beginning to see people who work in the medical field moving in on the street. And why not? It’s a great street! She says the street has changed to a lot more owner occupied homes, and she’s grateful for that.. She pointed out several that are rentals, but they are among the nicest on the street. She’s grateful to have such good landlords on the street as well. It seems that everything is falling into place on Trinity Place.
Rhonda, I love what you’ve done with your property, and the one next door. And I can tell that you are a force on this street, for the good. You, and your neighbors are Buffalo.
Moving Down Trinity Place
These patios look well used. You know I love that. And what a different little dormer! The paint job is very happy, and I like the two separate entrances. This is a very inviting home.
The article I read about the Kinskey family homes was very thought provoking for me. It got me thinking about the changes our city has gone through over the years. This is really a great time to be living in Buffalo, when we’re pulling ourselves up out of the rust, so to speak, to put ourselves back on the map as a beautiful, innovative place to be.
I always get excited when I find a Buffalo house, or a street, or a building I’ve never seen before. Like I said earlier, I found Trinity Place seven or eight years ago now, but I guess Tim had never seen it. When we were on that bike ride I mentioned, I got excited watching him see it for the first time. It’s like I said when I wrote Castles of Buffalo, once in a while, it’s good to see something through someone else’s eyes. Especially when they’re seeing something really cool for the first time.
I still get this feeling on the regular in Buffalo. It’s one of my favorite things. That excitement of finding something cool, learning something new about a place you think you know. That’s why I continue to explore and talk to people. I always learn something. I met a man on an urban hike over on Summit Ave, who recently wrote to me in an email, “…participating in true dialog is one of life’s most outstanding gifts.” How right you are, Frank.
When we stop exploring, stop learning and stop conversing, that’s when we begin to die. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot of livin’ to do!
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Some of you may have been expecting to see a story about an Italian restaurant today. Well, like Mick says, you can’t always get what you want. Things didn’t quite work out the way we expected this week, but we did get exactly what we needed at Eddie Brady’s.
Tim and I used to go to Eddie Brady’s after seeing bands down at Lafayette Square on Thursday nights. Anybody remember the real Thursday in the Square? Well, afterwards Eddie Brady’s would be absolutely packed, with the crowd spilling out onto the sidewalk. Ah, good times.
Nowadays we go there to eat because about six or seven years ago they added a full kitchen. And the food is good. Real good. But, like I promised when I started writing about these locally owned eateries, this is not just about the food. This is also about the history of the place and the people behind the food.
The History of the Building
The history of this place is cool. The property was purchased in 1857 by Nicholas Losson as a harness and saddle shop. He tore town the existing wood frame building, and built the three story structure we know today. It is believed it was built around 1863. Civil War era. Love it. Not the Civil War, that the building is that old.
The Losson family owned the building until 1897, when they sold it to Emil Brombacher. He opened the first tavern on the site. John Lang was the next owner, from 1902 until Prohibition, when the tavern was closed. In the 20s the building was transformed into a candy manufacturing company called Honey Dew Candy Company. Nice.
In the 1950s another reno took place, transforming the building into the Kitty-Cat Lounge, owned by Henry and Eda Korman. This raises the question, was Chippewa, only a block away, a red light district in the 50s? I’m not sure. I mean, maybe the Kitty-Cat was just a men’s kind of bar with good looking wait staff (am I allowed to say waitresses?). I picture an old black and white movie where men meet after work at the Kitty-Cat Lounge for a couple of martinis or manhattans. Once in a while one of them gets a little blotto and makes a pass, and the waitress stalks off in a huff (and rightly so).
Let’s just hope it wasn’t that other kind of lounge. Interesting, this little tidbit. Had never heard this part of the story. The Kitty-Cat was closed in 1968.
Here’s where it gets a little blurry. No more information until 1985 when the building housed another tavern, Bremer’s Pub, which didn’t last long. Then it was a restaurant, Gandy’s.
Finally, we come to Eddie Brady, who bought the place in 1990. And the rest is history. Well, almost.
We gotta give Eddie props for opening this place when he did. I mean, Chippewa was still pretty active, if you know what I mean. Mark Goldman bought the Calumet Building in 1988 and the turnaround had begun, but it took years to get where we are today. Thank you Eddie, for being there from the beginning of the comeback.
Now, to Patrick. In or around 2015, Eddie’s brother, Patrick, came into the business and has since taken over Eddie Brady’s. He expanded the food from just a few sandwiches to a full menu, along with chef Dan Quinn, and has been cranking out fantastic pub food ever since. Patrick also serves up a side of sarcasm and wit along with everything else. As an Irish pub owner should.
Eddie Brady’s is an old time saloon, with dark wood accents and furniture. Lots of exposed brick, a vintage looking bar back and beer coolers all add to the charm of the tavern. There is a definitely a ‘feel’ to the place. Comfortable and friendly.
While on a pub run on which Eddie Brady’s was a stop, Tim and I noticed the Courier Express and Iroquois Beer paraphernalia on the walls. One of the ‘regulars’ at the bar filled us in. Eddie had a Courier route as a kid, and one of his customers was the wife of the owner of Iroquois Brewing. He could always count on a good tip around the holidays at their home. Thus Eddie’s love of the old memorabilia. Patrick confirmed the story.
As a former Buffalo Courier Express carrier, I can attest to the lasting memories of certain generous customers. Love this story.
And I have to say that this trip was the first one for us since Covid, and for the first few minutes, I was the only woman in the place. I thought “Where are all my single friends? This place is full of decent looking men.”
I’ll let you in on an an inside joke Tim & I have shared for years now. When a friend of ours was told her husband was good looking, her response was, “He’s decent.” We thought that was hilarious, and have been using it ever since to describe each other, and other people we think are good looking. So, no offense guys who were at the bar that night. And girlfriends, you know where to go…haha. Everybody else should go too. You’ll all be glad you did. The atmosphere is fanstastic and the food is even better. Be sure to tell Patrick we sent you!
Visit Eddie Brady’s Tavern, 97 Genesee Street, Buffalo
**Use the ‘contact’ button at the top of this page to email me your suggestions on your favorite Mom & Pops, or locally owned places in and around Buffalo!
Back in July, we went to a birthday party at Front Park. On the way there we passed by Columbus Parkway. On the way home, we decided to check it out. Wow! I’d heard good things and remembered reading a few articles about this street, but it’s always so much betterto see it in person!
A Little Bit of History, of Course
Prospect Park is bordered by Porter Avenue at the south, Connecticut Street on the north, and Prospect and Columbus Parkway on the east and west respectively. Hiram Pratt, Buffalo businessman and two time mayor of Buffalo, donated the land in 1836 to the City of Buffalo to be used as a park. At the time the property afforded unrestricted views of Lake Erie and the Niagara River. It was a perfect spot for a park.
Sometime before Olmsted designed our park system, homes were built along the perimeter of the park, blocking the beautiful views. This prompted Olmsted to design Front Park. Between 1855 and 1866, Niagara Street was extended north through the very center of Prospect Park. Albeit a smaller scale, this is just like the 198 cutting through Delaware Park! Why do we do these things?
In 1952, the western portion of the park was renamed Columbus Park. At that time, a statue of Christopher Columbus was placed on the grounds. The eastern half of the park continued to be known as Prospect Park. In July of 2020, it became known about the controversy and general negativity surrounding Christopher Columbus. The statue was removed. In November of the same year, the Buffalo Common Council voted to change the name of the west side of the park back to Prospect Park. Once again, Buffalo has one, cohesive Prospect Park, save for Niagara Street running through it, of course…
I’m told, and have verified, that there will be a new statue to be erected soon, to replace the Columbus statue. It will be of an Italian immigrant family arriving here for the first time. Very appropriate, because this area was once predominantly an Italian neighborhood. Can’t wait to see it.
Let’s Take a Look at Columbus Parkway
I’ll begin by saying that I didn’t take photos of every home on the street, like I usually do. I covered the three blocks between Porter Ave and Rhode Island Street. There are simply too many homes along this stretch to be able to include them all.
This first one was built for Abner Cutler, who owned A. Cutler and Son, cabinetmakers, manufacturers and dealers of furniture. The business was located at 164-176 Pearl Street, which would have been in the block where the Rath building is now located. They also had a factory in Black Rock. Abner Cutler was issued a patent for the design of the roll top desk in 1882. In fact, he was issued seven patents, all pertaining to the mechanics of the roll top. Cool. And a beautiful home to boot.
This home has had some fairly recent renovations. The working shutters have been removed, original windows were replaced, and sidelights and a transom were added to the front entryway. The sidelights and transom were an aesthetic change. But I was sorry to see the windows replaced (they were fantastic). I suppose I understand the cost involved in maintaining them though, and you’ll get no judgements from me. Just observations.
Across the street from the Cutler home is this beauty, below, currently receiving some love. And it looks to me like they are doing it right! I appreciate this. That upper porch is interesting with it’s ‘step up’ (maybe two) or down depending on how you look at it. Either way this place looks like cocktails on the patios to me. Let’s keep an eye on this one. I think it’s going to be fabulous!
I love the arched portico over the entryway with the fan design underneath on this one, below. And the ribbon windows in the dormer. This place has got little touches like the stone walkway, and the tiled stoop. Very nice! And, they’re Bills fans, so yeah, I like this one.
The brickwork is just great at this next home, below. And check out the wrought iron, unusual and beautiful. I’m so glad they’ve kept it!
Mama Mia! This one, below, is beautiful! But before I get carried away, a quick check with the city shows there are eight apartments here. Okay. Coming back down to earth. But it also says both the upper and lower patios are 10 feet wide by 36 feet long. Now, those are patios! This one is a real stunner.
This next home below, is where I met Alexander and his dog, Otis. Alexander, I apologize, but I cannot remember your beautiful Mother’s name. She was using a leaf blower and both Alexander and Otis were having a grand old time chasing the leaves around! Super cute family moment. All three were really enjoying themselves. Mom told me that she loves living on the street. The neighbors are great, and that most of the homes have original woodwork etc. That’s so great to hear!
And More Columbus Parkway
Here are a few more amazing homes.
This one below is really nice with the rounded porch. There are several of those on this street. Also, the rounded bay windows. There are a lot of those on this street too. Love it!
This Queen Anne style home was built for DeWitt Baker in 1883. Oh that gable! Most of the windows appear to be original. And I want to call that finish on the gable pebbling, but on closer inspection, I think it might actually be ‘roughcast’, which is a mixture of small stones, broken glass and cement. That second floor window is beautiful, and the sunburst detail above it is stunning.
Wait till you see this
This next home, below, is spectacular! It’s designed by August Esenwein, of the Buffalo famous Esenwein & Johnson Architectural Firm. (The Calumet Building, the Electric Tower and many, many more.) Just look at those amazing tall (tall!) windows on the driveway side. The scale of this home is incredible! This is one I’d love to go in. Just to see those windows! And what is probably fantastic woodwork and many more details! This one is special!
And what do you think of this beauty, below? I absolutely love it! This street continues to blow me away at every turn. This particular home is so unexpected. Let’s just say, you’re not going to see another like this one today, that’s for sure.
This one, below, is a lovely Second Empire design. I’m pretty sure all the windows (on the front anyway) are original, or at least have been replaced properly. They still have the rounded look and curved top. It looks so nice! The bay window on the first floor is beautiful complete with dentil molding. And I think the sidelights and transom are stained glass. Nice!
And Now This
This home was built in 1880 for Edgar B. Jewett. He was the president of the Jewett Refrigerator Company. And if you’re a regular reader of this blog you may remember that my husband, Tim, worked for Jewett Refrigerator Company early on in his career. Cool. Jewett served two terms as Mayor of Buffalo, became the Vice-President of the Cary Safe Company, and served as the President of the Columbia National Bank here in Buffalo. Busy guy. He lived here with his wife, Elizabeth and their four children before building a home at 210 Summer Street in 1900.
This three story home is incredible! It towers over the corner of Columbus Parkway and Columbus Parkway West. Like many on this street, the owner of this home is a fantastic steward of this true Buffalo treasure.
This Next One
Dr. John D. Naples and his wife, Anne, built this home in 1939. Including the extra wide lot which is 80 feet wide! That’s practically unheard of in the city! And of course, you know I love the wide porch on the driveway side of the house. Awesome place to sit and visit.
This home is absolutely massive! The city has it listed as a three-family residence. And I can see where all three could be very large apartments. The house seems to go on forever. I’m told that a woman named Carole lives here, and that she knows everything there is to know about the street. But alas, she was not home the day I was there. Although I’ll tell you I’m not altogether sure I knocked at the right doors. I do wish I could have met her. Carole, your home is beautiful.
After a little digging, I found that Carole and her late husband Carl raised their children in this home. It was designed by an architect out of Rochester named James G. Cutler. Cutler is better known as the person who designed and patented the office building mail chute. Cool.
Love this next home. Take a look at the sunroom at the front of this house. It’s got leaded glass and I think some of the windows in this home may be original. Not all, but some definitely are. Nice.
This next home, below, is where I met Terry. He’s the one who told me Carole is the person to talk to about the history of the street.
Terry had heard at some point that a senator or a congressman lived in his home. He was right. His name was Anthony F. Tauriello, born in 1899. He was an attorney who served on the Buffalo Common Council from 1938-41, and again in 1948. He was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1949-51, when he came home to serve again on the Buffalo Common Council from 1954-57. He finished off his career as an appointee to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority from 1961-73. Not too shabby. Here he is, below.
Terry, I especially love your entryway at the front of your home. Thank you for taking the time to chat. Appreciate it.
A Few More
There are a few more houses I’d like to share on my way back to Vermont Street before I head home again.
This home, below, is where I met Dave and Chantal. What a beautiful Colonial Revival home they’ve got here. Dave tells me they’ve been here a little less than a year and are in the middle of a kitchen reno. Chantal mentions that she’d like to do some research on the home and the area once the renovation projects are completed. Well, guys, I found that your home was built for Henry Hagen in 1907, but I’m afraid that’s all I was able to find before publishing. I’m sure you’ll be able to see that on your deed, and maybe you’ll find more clues as to the history of the home.
About the house. My favorite thing is that gorgeous rounded porch. Also, the palladian windows at the peaks. There are at least three that can be seen from the street. One at the front, and one at both the north and south sides. And those rounded bay windows on the second floor are beautiful.
And Last But Certainly Not Least
This incredible (and huge) home, below, was built in 1886 for George Sandrock, who was born in Buffalo in 1838. I believe Sandrock was in insurance (Sandrock & Baily, located at 24 Swan Street). He was one of 11 children born to George Sr. & Magdalena Daigler who both came to Buffalo from Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France. The home must have been stunning back then, with the red Medina sandstone lintels, details at the peaks and decorative terracotta here and there mixed in with the brick.
It needs a bit of attention, but looks doable. It’s impressive when you walk by. It’s the way it’s set on the property that is so perfect! The home is on a wide lot (92′ – in the city!) with a large side yard. Plenty of room to spread out. This is the kind of home that makes me want to explore the interior. Well, back in the day when it was a single family home that is. It would be cool to see the original plans. Now that would be something.
The wrought iron fencing out front just may be original. It would take some elbow grease, but it wouldn’t be too expensive to do. I’ll admit though, I wouldn’t want to be the one to do it! Very labor intensive!
All in all, it’s a beautiful Buffalo home.
Columbus Parkway is an almost unbelievable street, and makes me consider the whole of Buffalo. This street is unique in that the homes were built over a period of 100 years or so. Some were built in the 1860s and every decade after, up until the 1960s, and the townhouses were built in 1989. That’s kind of unheard of in Buffalo. There are a few that I can think of offhand, like Edge Park, where some homes were built in one era, and at the other end of the street some were built decades later. Or every once in a while you come across one really old home in the middle of all the others. But this street seems to have had continual building. Very unusual! And may account for the occasional very wide lots.
Historic & Present
The homes built here represented people like George Sandrock, who co-owned a small insurance agency, or the doctors and politicians. These were not the lumber barons or the captains of industry from Millionaire’s Row over on Delaware Ave. This street is representative of successful people like a lot of us, who work hard for a living but also enjoy some degree of ‘success’. I love this about Buffalo.
I have to say that it’s really good to see a young couple like Dave and Chantal moving into this historic neighborhood, taking an interest in restoring their home, and showing the desire to become part of the fabric of the neighborhood. That’s what makes a neighborhood great.
This one seems to be historic, but very present, if that makes sense. Let me try to explain. Everybody I spoke to on the street seems to be very aware of the history here, almost excited about it. But they also seem to realize that while being historic is cool, it’s also important to be present and involved in the here and now. That’s what’s so great about Columbus Parkway.
Next time you’re in the area, make it a point to go see this incredible street.
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We’ve been going to Lucky’s for a while now. Ever since we started doing our ‘church tours‘ about a dozen years ago. You see St. Casimir was on the list of churches we went to that first year. And as was our custom, we’d go out to breakfast after going to mass at whatever church we were going to that week. Because of its proximity to St. Casimir, we decided on Lucky’s Texas Red Hots.
Here’s why. Because we liked the look of it. And because Tim could get his favorite texas hots, and they have all day breakfast on the menu. I love breakfast foods at all different times of the day! But mostly, it was because we liked the look of it. You see, Tim and I love the simple, no BS restaurants. The Mom & Pops. The kind of place you can stop in, get some incredibly good food, even better service, and be on your way. Or if you choose, hang out and read the paper, or talk into the night if you feel like it.
Lucky’s has that look. And we were right, it’s exactly that kind of place. The kind of place that has a story. Been around forever. Run by the same people, usually family. This is Lucky’s.
Our First Time
We were comfortable the minute we walked in the door and the woman behind the counter said hello and told us to sit wherever we liked. She brought menus and coffee immediately, even though most of the booths were full and she appeared to be the only one serving. I also liked that she didn’t get put out when I asked for a cup of tea. Really, believe it or not, some people do. And sometimes, I’m made to feel like I’m asking for something really special. Any fellow tea drinkers out there hear what I’m sayin?!
The food was delicious! And I believe we both had big breakfasts that day. Bacon, eggs, home fries (mountains of them) with peppers & onions and toast for me. And a Greek breakfast for Tim. Everything was perfectly cooked! We would definitely go back. And have, many times.
Lucky’s is owned by Gus Bechakas. Gus was nice enough to sit down with us last Saturday to chat.
He came to Buffalo from Greece when he was 12 years old with his parents. He went to Buffalo schools, and told us his family has always been in the restaurant business. In 1966, he opened Lucky’s on Fillmore Avenue near Glenwood, in the building that is Mattie’s (sadly now closed). Gus moved into Kaisertown, here on Clinton Street 47, years ago. And with that, a neighborhood icon was born.
Gus runs the Greek/American Lucky’s Texas Hots with his wife, Theodora, and two sons, Leo and George. I’m told, by Tim, the Texas hots are fantastic! Texas hots are not a favorite of mine, but I can tell you the souvlaki here is heavenly. In fact, I’ve never had a bad meal here, or bad service. And we’ve made it a point to come back at least a couple of times a year. Theodora, Leo and George seem to be very friendly, kind people. And Gus? Well, Gus is the salt of the earth.
He spoke humbly about starting the business, keeping it going, their troubles during Covid lockdowns, and coming back afterwards. He mentions, somewhat emotionally, that Theodora is battling cancer. But he’s much more comfortable talking about the restaurant with someone like me, who he barely knows. I respect that.
The other diners all seemed to know each other, saying hello as they come in. This is a real neighborhood place.
While taking photos, I met Leonard, sitting at the counter enjoying his breakfast. Not too busy to talk though. Gus tells me Leondard was one of his first customers when he opened 47 years ago. I asked Leonard how he likes the food here, he said, something to the effect of, “Well, I come here everyday, and I’m 96 years old, so they must be doing something right!”
It’s obvious to me, too, that they are definitely doing something right.
In that brief conversation with Leonard and Gus, Gus turned the conversation to Leonard. He told me that Leonard is a World War II vet, was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, and was a prisoner of war for 12 months. I was instantly humbled. I thanked Leonard sincerely for his service to which he looked me right in the eye and barely nodded, before changing the subject back to Gus and Lucky’s. These two men are more than restauranteur and patron. These two are friends. I love it.
My Impressions of Lucky’s Texas Hots
You’re only going to get this kind of experience at a place like Lucky’s. Good food, good people. That’s really all it takes to make me love a restaurant. And it’s awesome when people like the Bechakas family make it look easy. And owning and running a restaurant is incredibly difficult. Especially at this point in history. This family makes you feel like you’re welcome. Like they’re happy you’ve come for a visit. And it’s sincere. They love what they’re doing, and it shows.
Gus – Tim & I will keep you and Theodora in our thoughts and prayers.
Visit the Bechakas family:
Lucky’s Texas Red Hots, 1903 Clinton Street, Kaisertown, Buffalo
*CASH ONLY* ATM on site.
p.s. Try Theodora’s rice pudding – I had some today (10/8) and it’s fantastic!
**Use the ‘contact’ button at the top of this page to email me your suggestions on your favorite Mom & Pops in and around Buffalo!
Elmwood Ave. Where should I begin? I guess at the beginning. But certainly not at the very beginning of Buffalo. Elmwood Ave did not exist then. It wasn’t part of Joseph Ellicott’s design of our city streets. Nor was it planned the way other, larger streets were. Think Main Street or Delaware Ave. Those streets were carefully planned out. Elmwood Ave? Not so much.
Originally, it ran from North Street to just beyond Amherst Street. And at the time, it was more like a series of smaller streets connected up together. There was talk for years about making it one coherent street but it didn’t happen until the city was readying itself for the Pan Am Exposition in 1901. Even then, it didn’t extend into the downtown core (Niagara Square) or north to the growing suburb of Kenmore. It only ran from Allen Street to just beyond Amherst. It was, however, at this time named Elmwood Ave.
It would not be fully extended into downtown until 1912.
Let’s Take a Look
I’ve decided to cover the section of Elmwood Ave between Bryant and Summer Streets. I realize this stretch is not what you probably thought you were going to see today. But I have my reasons for making this my first post about Elmwood Ave. Okay, so I only have one reason.
One of my most faithful readers, Jo Anne, lived along this stretch back in the 1970s, and I’m writing this for her. We’ve become email friends over the past year or so (remember pen pals?). Jo Anne now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but visits on occasion (like a lot of readers of the blog), and enjoys these ‘hikes’ around the area.
This one’s for you Jo Anne. Surprise!
I’m going to begin at Summer Street on the east side of Elmwood. This is the first home I see. What a start to this hike! This Colonial Revival was built around 1888, and is made of Onondaga Limestone. Love the look of this house. Note the pedimented dormers, look at the curve of the center one, I believe that’s called a swan’s neck pediment. Sexy. Just look at the wide wooden trim, accented by the wreaths and ribbons. It’s just lovely. The front door and sidelights appear to be floating above the portico. It’s how they’re set into the limestone. Love it.
In the 1890s, William C. Warren lived in this home with his wife Clara (Davock). Warren was born and raised in Buffalo, attended Yale University and was the editor and publisher of the Buffalo Commercial, a newspaper well known in the area for its progressiveness tempered with sound conservatism. William Warren was very well respected in both Republican and progressive circles, but he never ran for public office. Interesting. If only we could find someone with that kind of balance today – and if we could get him/her to run for public office. That would be great! Just sayin.
This Home, in 1915
In 1915, Judge Charles B. Wheeler was living in the home, and this is what it looked like then, below. It appears there used to be a widow’s walk at the roof, a balustrade on the roof of the portico, and the wreaths and ribbon on the trim are painted a darker color, probably black. Wish the old girl still had some or all of this. I can’t say for sure, but it looks like the front door is recessed just a bit, and I think the modern door is flush with the building. Which may account for the ‘floating’ look. I like it both ways.
The building is now home to a wealth management company. Interesting history here though.
I always wonder how critical I should be when looking at homes. I realize sometimes owners are up against it to keep up these old treasures. The work is so expensive, and can be difficult to keep up with, so I hesitate to be negative. This one, below, has seen better days, but is obviously a diamond in the rough. Would love to see it brought back, even just a bit.
The roof appears sound to my eye. Some paint and then maybe some work on the windows would go a long way here. Look at that bullseye window at the peak. Could be beautiful, but it also looks like not just anyone could fix that. Same with some of the shingles. It’d have to be a skilled craftsman. And those don’t come cheap, with good reason.
This one could come back better than ever. And so I’m going to call it ‘one to watch’.
Take a Look at This One
Next, is this absolute beauty.
The colors are perfect and are perfectly executed. The ionic columns on the porch match the ones on the second and third floor windows, and are amazing, as is the broken pedimented dormer with its half moon window, which on closer inspection has spider webbed leaded glass. Cool!
These Next Few
The word that keeps coming to mind is amazing. Simply amazing.
This first one has been maintained so well. Love the ribbon windows in the peak with the shell trim above – so pretty!
I love everything about this next one, below. The use of Roman brick is spectacular. And the Medina sandstone foundation is very practical, but its use as keystones is fabulous! It ties it all together. Also note the original wrought iron at the front of the home. I see the shape of that railing foundation all over Buffalo, but there are usually no longer railings attached. Most people add newer railings to the actual stairs. Love that these are original!
This home was once a lighting store called Schneider’s Lighting Studio, and was advertised as Buffalo’s largest display of lamps and shades. Neat! Later, in the 1940s, it was broken into several small apartments. It now serves as law offices.
The home below was built for Elbert B. Mann, who was the manager of Flint & Kent, a large dry goods store, located on Main Street.
Below is the home as it appeared in 1915. The original windows really add something, don’t they? Love the splayed lintels above the windows! Also, note the chimneys have been removed (above), as has the balustrade on the portico. Would love to see the windows on the dormers returned to something close to the original windows.
These Next Two
The next two homes are law offices. And the first one is an E.B. Green design! For that reason, I’m going to show it to you as he designed it in 1899, first. And is it ever lovely! It’s everything I would expect from E.B. Green and more! Love this home!
It was built for Philip G. Schaefer, a Buffalo brewer. And as we’ve learned in the past here on the blog, in general, brewers do okay for themselves here in Buffalo! Wink, wink…
And here it is today – every bit as beautiful! Love the dormers and balustrade at the top of the home. Note the sidelights to the windows on the first floor – nice touch EB!
The transition between the two.
And the second home included in the same address. Love the color continuity between the two.
This home, below, once belonged to Dr. A. L. Benedict and his wife. In 1943, he spoke to the Buffalo Courier Express about his family coming to Buffalo via the Erie Canal from Schenectady over 100 years before. His grandfather, the Rev. Stephen van Rensalaer arrived with his wife and nine children on a packet boat, to make their home on Carroll Street, which ran between Washington and Ellicott Streets. Benedict told of stories he had heard throughout the years about the family walking to The Terrace and Main Street to get water (it was the closest pump).
Van Rensalaer came to work as pastor of the First Universalist Church, then at Washington and Swan Streets. Cool story. It seems like Dr. Benedict did alright for himself with this home on Elmwood Ave. It’s a beautiful Tudor. Love the entryway and the porch! Very inviting!
This next one, below, is interesting too. A woman named Alice G.R. Owen lived here when she passed away in 1951, at the age of 80. She was born in France in 1871 to English parents. At 16, she moved to Toronto, and shortly after that Alice came to Buffalo to stay. She studied at Buffalo General Hospital, and completed her studies in 1896. She then worked as a surgical nurse for Dr. Roswell Park! Cool!
During World War I she worked as an Army nurse at Veterans Hospital in the Bronx. After the war, Alice went back to school to become a medical technologist. She came out of retirement to work as a nurse and laboratory technician in the field during World War II. I think I would have liked Alice. And she lived for much of that time in this apartment building (above), on Elmwood Ave. Cool.
These next two photos will be Musical Suites (the name is a nod to the Community Music School which used to be housed in the second photo). The project is being undertaken by Schneider Development. Read more about it here.
Crossing the Street
Here is the first home I come to on the west side of the street near Bryant. This is one I’d love to get into and check out. I’d especially love to see the yard – it’s a double lot! This home is beautiful! In my mind’s eye, there should be a covered patio coming off the north side of the house, and plenty of greenery and colorful flowers in the yard. And take a look at the side entryway with porch above! Wow!
Jo Anne’s Former Home
Now we come to it. The home that Jo Anne lived in during the 1970s.
The structure itself appears to be in really great shape. It’s got good bones, as they say. It wouldn’t take too much effort to get the landscaping cleaned up a bit to bring this house back to its original glory. Love it that the upper porch is still usable, so many aren’t anymore.
Like with almost every home, there is interesting history here too. In the 1950’s, this house was home to the Queen City Chess Club. I found an article in the Buffalo Courier Express from 1970 about a 12 year old boy (described as almost 13) who plays chess against 25 people simultaneously! He won 16 of the games, lost 2, and tied in 7. Young Peter Winston did this while holding a bottle of soda in one hand and making his moves with the other. And the other players were mostly adults who were champions themselves! Wow! Anybody thinking of The Queen’s Gambit right now? Many championships were won and lost in this house! These two brothers, below, were featured in an article in the Buffalo Evening News on October 10, 1955.
During the 1960s and 70s (including when Jo Anne lived here) the building was home to at least two bridge clubs. As in the card game. One was the Buffalo Whist Club and one was a chapter of the Frontier Bridge Club. I found many articles in several local papers about bridge, winners and their scores, where the games were held and who beat whom… It was a big thing, and Buffalo is still host to bridge tournaments. Jo Anne remembers the games going on into the night when she lived at 410.
A Pan American Exposition Connection
In addition to all of this, the Honorable William Buchanan who was the Director General of the Pan American Exposition lived in this home during and after the exposition.
He was charged with the construction, the operation and the dismantling of the exposition. I saw several ads in newspapers offering various expo buildings for sale. Interested parties were to come to this home to sign the necessary paperwork. These were run in local papers all through 1902. I guess I never really thought about who took care of all of that after the expo closed at the end of October. But someone had to, and that someone lived in Jo Anne’s house!
Another Apartment Building
This building had some construction work going on in the courtyard between the two sides, but normally when I walk by, it looks like a lovely place to live.
And one more apartment building.
It’s around here that I met Ron and his dogs. I should say his Mother’s dogs. Sadly, she passed away about five months ago. Ron just moved into this apartment, (home pictured below) a month ago, because his last place didn’t allow pets. He says his apartment is beautiful, and he’s enjoying being back in the Elmwood Village. We’ll have to take your word for it on the inside. We can’t see much of the outside, but the second floor makes me want to see more!
You’re a good son, Ron.
And one last house.
And there’s just one more building I’d like to show you. It’s the Buffalo Tennis and Squash Club. I’ve been past this building a million times and I have to say, I’ve never really noticed it. It’s beautiful. I love how original it is. I mean, those windows and for that matter, the shutters all look original. Love that.
This was a very different hike for me. It’s an area I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in. For me, it’s a pass through spot. You know, the areas that you pass through to get to a specific place. I’ve noticed the big old homes here, but never really looked at them. For this, I have Jo Anne to thank, by letting me know she used to live at 410. After that, my interest was piqued!
Knowing the history of Elmwood Ave really makes me think. It’s one of Buffalo’s busiest, best urban thoroughfares, and yet it wasn’t planned that way. It sort of evolved as the city evolved. And our city is still evolving. The conversation of just exactly how to do that is still a hot topic! And that’s a good thing.
Go See It
For me, when I see these old, grand homes that are now apartments, or offices, I end up daydreaming about the families who once lived in them, as single family homes. They make me want to time travel back to the days when Buffalo was experiencing the so-called ‘gilded age’. These homes make me want to see the stories first hand. But, until someone perfects time travel, I’ll have to be content with the written word, and sometimes a photograph or two.
Like I always say, every home, every building, every neighborhood’s got a story to tell. The buildings are nothing without knowing the stories of the people who built them, lived, loved, laughed and cried in them. That’s what I’m after. Go see your city, Buffalo. Get the stories.
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