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Don’t Take ReUse For Granted

When I initially posted on Grant Street’s Sweet_ness 7 Café, I neglected to mention a few very interesting reuse/design features. To be honest, the reason that I didn’t mention the intriguing elements was due to the way that they naturally blended into the context of their surroundings. For example, the old world floor was not there originally… according to owner Prish Moran there were four layers of ‘bad floor’ that needed to be removed before timbers from the church at West Ferry and Richmond were laid. And the knotty wood plank floor covering came from a house on the Lower West Side. It was brought in to mimic an original floor. From Prish:

“The tin ceiling, the doors and the wood floor all came from Buffalo ReUse,” Prish told me. “The ceiling came from the new Artvoice building. Then I found a pastry cabinet from an intact butcher shop on Niagara Street. She’s a holdout on the street – one of the last houses on her block that was not knocked down for parking. The bar came from a tavern down on Seneca Street. The chairs and the barstools are from the Little Harlem Nightclub. The brick walls are actually faux finishing – there were so many paint colors that it was impossible to remove them all. I got the shutters from a yard sale on Auburn.”

To see the interior as it stands today, you would think that it was mothballed for 100 years. I was shocked to learn that the brick had been faux painted – from a distance you can’t tell that it’s not the original brick. Many of the once forsaken design elements have been replaced or restored.  Prish has recreated the original look and feel of an old world Grant Street establishment by working closely with Buffalo ReUse while scouring her neighborhood for irreplaceable finds. While it is sad that many of the design elements have come from less fortunate buildings, at least we can see the features come back to life in a building that was certainly in need of a makeover. From Prish:

-wall cabinets… from Vince Kuntz’s storage on Grant… payment to him from customer on Norwood!

-Front and back door…. reuse…. an old store, probably on the east side

-Front door exterior shutters… reuse

-mantle.. reuse

-menu board… gift of Tim Sick and Sal Zambito’s warehouse of treasures… as well as the benches

-benches… old conference table from Seneca Street… magic worked by Pierce Kampke

-community table… existing in the building… Russ’s pastry table used for 40 some odd years for dough… also my wooden work counters were from Russ’s original workroom in adjacent church

-countertop cabinet (register use)… reuse

-3 bay sink… free from Peter Hunt when he rehab’d his Elmwood/Breckenridge location of the old market!

-stove/cooler/pots and pans and utensils… from a restaurant in Angola on the lake

-all metal work tables.and Buffalo china pottery… from the Episcopal Church Home on Niagara

-altar in gallery… Episcopal Church Home

-newspaper rack… yard sale on Clarenden

-pillows/pastry trays… yard sale on Linwood

-antique chalk board… yard sale on Richmond

-awnings… new fabric on existing metal frames.  saved on fabric by scanning warehouse of Custom Canvas leftover fabrics.  Saved tons using existing framework/leftover fabric.  Great company!

-exterior mural design… i tore this photo out of a french magazine in ’96 thinking that it was inspiring for something someday… and then there was that ugly broken up facade on my building. Thousands to return it to its original plan, but $40 bucks at Schuele Paint… It is a design from an ancient wall in Indonesia. It does create conversation, good or bad, but isn’t that what art is about?! No one mentions the ugly windows anymore!!

Lots of odds and ends, but the bottom line is that this project was made affordable by reusing.  A lot of elbow grease to clean things up and the talent of many local craftsmen put it all together.  I haven’t really thought about it much, but I guess that beside my spanking new coffee machines and bathroom furnishings, my whole shoppe is pretty much a reuse. The only figure that I know to be exact is the tin ceiling.  I started to purchase it new, from an original factory in the mid west, WFNorman, new would have cost $13,000 (raw tin, still would have had to faux it) I paid reuse $2500.  I should mention that the tiles scared a lot of people in their purchased condition.  Rusted with layers of peeling paint with 100yrs of soot attached.  I spent probably a month, with a lot of help from City Honors interns, scraping, priming and then faux finishing the panels. Installing is easy, but tedious, though.  Tons of money is saved with the sweat equity.  Loved it though. I have a design degree and am a self taught painter with a faux finishing business of past, so tons were saved doing all of the finishing myself.  All of the stonework on all drywall surfaces, is faux, of course too!
Would love the idea of having an “inservice” on reusing at some point with Michael Gainer and some of the best scourers of estate sales, etc., in attendance.  I think it would be inspiring for many to see how easy it really is to save on the original purchase and then to bring it back to life.  There are an amazing array of books available at our incredible downtown library for faux finishing fans and God knows, the estate sales and big trash days are staples in Buffalo.  Self teaching is the way to go.  Some rules, but mostly instinct in the design and execution of the piece or whole room.

Sweet-ness 7 Café | 216 Grant Street (at Lafayette) | Buffalo, NY 14213

Buffalo ReUse 298 | Northampton St | Buffalo, NY 14208 | (716) 882-2800

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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