By Robert Franke:
Jane Jacobs once said that “cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration” and I was reminded of that notion when walking down Grant Street last week and seeing the many relatively new businesses that have opened on the street. The vast majority of these new businesses express cultural elements of the many ethnicities that comprise our region’s most diverse area and together they are forging a new identity, energy and optimism for the district.
The newest of those businesses, Vineeta International Foods, opens Friday, December 21st and promises to serve as a tipping point of sorts for the Grant-Ferry commercial district’s growing reputation as a source for ethnic foods and wares. The new store, located at 98 Grant Street, will provide a wide range of Indian and Asian food items to both wholesale and retail customers.
In purchasing the building at the corner of Grant and Breckenridge (formerly home to an Aaron’s rent-to-own store) the owners, Raj and Sujata Chauhan have made a major investment in Grant-Ferry. With just under 11,000 square feet, the new store is bright, clean and spacious, and will serve as a true anchor for the rapidly redeveloping Grant-Ferry Neighborhood Commercial District.
The Chauhans are not new to the business, having operated the much loved Lincoln Park Market on Niagara Falls Blvd in Amherst for more than six years, but their shop on Grant Street takes things to a new level. The range of offerings is impressive and includes fresh produce, Indian breads, an enormous selection of rice, flours, lentils and other legumes, fresh and frozen fish, halal meats, teas and other beverages, and the herbs and spices that give Indian and Asian cuisines their special flair. After opening, Vineeta International Foods will complement the many other ethnic food providers in Grant-Ferry to give the district a one-of-a-kind character that will attract shoppers from inside and outside the area.
I asked Sujata why she and Raj chose Grant Street and was much gratified by the response. She told me that the neighborhood’s increasing density and presence of immigrant groups from Somalia, Bhutan, Burma and areas throughout Southeast Asia and Africa made the location a natural. She also noted that while her location in Amherst served some West Side residents, many more were unable to come due to transportation and distance reasons.
Sujata also feels that the environment in Grant-Ferry has improved to the point where perceptions of safety no longer keep people away. She and her husband started with a small shop on West Ferry before starting Lincoln Park Market and they have seen a great change for the better in this West Side community.
Vineeta’s arrival is just another sign that Grant-Ferry, thanks in no small part to the drive, creativity and confidence present in our newest residents, is firmly on the path to reclaiming its status as a vibrant and healthy urban neighborhood and an asset to our overall quality of life.
Vineeta International Foods. 98 Grant Street, Buffalo, NY 14213. Telephone 883-5020. Open Monday-Saturday from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Officially open for business on Friday, December 21. A Grand Opening Celebration will take place starting Wednesday January 23.