After years of living with discarded chicken remains washed up on the sidewalk, the corner of Elmwood and Bryant has been delivered a real treat. Gone are the days of smelling the dirty and dysfunctional KFC. No more vagrants sitting on the back doorstep. No more garbage spewing out into the driveway. So long KFC… hello Coffee Culture.
When I first walked into the coffee shop this weekend I couldn’t even believe that I was standing on the site of the former KFC. From the outside, the shop looked warm and inviting. Upon walking in, I was greeted by staff and customers who were clamoring to talk about the business. Random customers offered a ‘hello’ and a ‘isn’t this nice?’ without any prompting. It was as if everyone was in on the secret – everyone was there to show their support for the development and its first tenant.
I ran into developer Karl Frizlen who was at the front counter with family and friends. We discussed the positive impact that the cafe was already making on the neighborhood. The corner was alive with people walking about. Most of the tables were full. The Sabres game was playing on a flat screen above a fireplace towards the back, and Pegula was standing next to the team’s uniformed alum. The smell of coffee wafted in the air, while the menu board boasted bagels, wraps and all of the necessary items that would make for a great breakfast or lunch for a business person on the run or a neighbor looking to settle in for an hour.
For the first time I can actually say that I am somewhat happy with a corner of Elmwood that has been nothing short of disgusting. I’m happy for my neighborhood because I know that the transformation will bring new life to what has always been a dead zone. I hear that a sunglasses business has signed a lease in the second retail location within the building (two out of three)… another good development that we can anticipate.
There are still two corners that need fixing at this intersection. Can you imagine if we could land a development like this down the road? Heck… with KFC gone and Coffee Culture up and operational, anything is possible!