The Northwest corner of Hertel and Parker is seeing new life, and it’s all due to one local family’s investment into their own much-loved neighborhood. It all started two years ago when John Daly and his wife
Ruthanne were on a walk around North Buffalo. As they passed the then vacant
Parker Hertel Pharmacy, Ruthanne said,
“I hope something good for the neighborhood moves in.”
It got John to thinking: Why leave it to risk? Why don’t we try to make something
happen there? Following the “think globally, act
locally” mentality – because they’re part of that neighborhood – John
thought he may have a solution.
He works in the architectural engineering office of Trautman
Associates, and thought he should be able to take this corner on. “It’s what we preach to all our
clients, ” John says.
“We are big advocates of sustainable design, urban living, walkable
John continues, “Originally the building was designed to
house six small neighborhood shops. I started talking about my idea with the
entire family (we have three teenage girls Elizabeth, Brigid and Patricia).
They were all for it and came up with some great ideas for the shops. The girls
said there were no cool places in the neighborhood to hang out like the Spot Coffee
on Elmwood. The girls said they would love to open an ice-cream and candy store,
and Ruthanne–a closet baker and coffee lover–thought it would be a fun to
combine those passions too.”
John and Ruthanne also thought it would be a great opportunity to
build something worthwhile with their daughters. The idea of the Sweet Shop
took shape as the catalyst that the building needed, to showcase how beautiful
the old shops could be.
The couple bought the building and immediately started triaging
the long list of problems, at first mostly behind the scenes to stabilize the
building. “Thanks, by the way, to our patient neighbors who couldn’t see
much progress other than the lights on into the wee hours, where our only fans
were Checkers Tavern’s patrons who thanked us for working to save their favorite
neighborhood pub,” Daly says. “We learned that everyone who ever went
there in their youth returned in a sort of pilgrimage for Thanksgiving or Christmas
Eve or a reunion. They couldn’t thank us enough for saving their
With Checkers as the anchor tenant, the Dalys set out to build
their Sweet Shop around the corner (to give the kids a little space from the
bar). Coincidently, they soon learned from old neighbors that it was the
original soda fountain for Parker Pharmacy (still painted faintly in the rear
door window), so there was a feel of the evolution of the building going full
circle. “One woman told me her grandfather was a soda jerk there before he
went off to the War (WWII). We tried to bring the feel of the old space back in
the restoration, from restoring tin ceilings to incorporating items from the
pharmacy like the old sign letters, wood work, cabinets even the classic swinging
door to behind the bar,” Daly explains.
The plan worked. There was interest in a little restaurant next
to Checkers (now Butter’s Bistro), and next a baker wanted to move his bagel
operation into a vacant shop next to that (which, by the way, another old timer
said was originally a bakery). The Dalys worked to get all the shops open while
still trying to finish their own.
Finally, this summer, it started to happen. “You could start to see
progress on the street with new patios and storefronts,” Daly states.
“With all that momentum the corner started looking good, and the Veda Yoga
Space joined us as another great addition to the neighborhood.
Daly has one out of six shops vacant, and he says he’s holding out,
looking for another great fit.
Interested parties can contact the Dalys here: Daly330@verizon.net.
Signage-wise, John has employed a deft local sign painter KMCdesign@roadrunner.com, who is working away as this is written. The top-of-building billboard is going to be painted as a mural for now. (We’ll update photos soon because things are happening fast!)
The bottom line for the Dalys (left), is that they’ve seen how important it is to invest in one’s own community. “We’ve seen
how supportive the neighbors are to these new businesses. It’s a quality of
life issue that comes full circle. We hope we can all help each other and keep
the progress moving. We’re all–the entire community–doing our part in a grass
roots kind of way to make the Parker end of Hertel the jewel it was and should
be,” John says.
Thanks to Daly and the talented business people he houses on
this happy corner, you can find Bagelman Inc. Bagels in the sweet shop on
weekends or by order, Butter’s Bistro has fabulous food, Checkers the legacy
lives on, and the neighboring businesses–Hertel Parker Liquor, Lone Star, C-Me
Marine Sales–are also great businesses, and very supportive neighbors who can
use your support.