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Big save: Break out the bubbly in Black Rock

Cool-black-rock-Buffalo-NYSue “Frenchy” Cholewa has done it again, and this time it’s bigger and better than ever. Sue (a French teacher) was one of the first people to start picking up properties on Amherst Street in order to fix them up. First she bought an old appliance shop building and attracted Gallery 464 as a tenant. Then she purchased a vacant hardware store and attracted Black Rock Kitchen & Bar. All the while Frenchy has been an activist on the street, helping out with everything from concerts to parades to plantings. Ever since I have known her (and her passion for Amherst Street), she has had one bee in her bonnet. An abandoned old gas station that she said would be a huge victory if someone could get a hold of it and turn around (before it collapsed).

Well, that day has finally come. I paid a visit to Sue’s new (old) gas station yesterday to congratulate her on her purchase/victory. She took me through the building, telling about its history, and how at one point it had also been home to a plumbing business. “Now, I’ve got to figure out what the best fit is going to be and attract a tenant,” Sue whispered to me. “How ’bout a restaurant?” I asked. With that, she gave me a wink, and away we go… onwards and upwards in Black Rock.

The reason that I mentioned “a restaurant” for this location, is that the property just screams “RESTAURANT!” Check out the overhang in front, and the old garage doors for indoor/outdoor seating on the side. It’s a fairly big building with lots of inherent quirky character. It’s also directly across the street from Casey’s Tavern, a popular neighborhood haunt.

The purchase of this building, by this particular person bodes extremely well for Amherst Street and Black Rock. It’s a giant puzzle piece that will take a problem property to a prized property in short order. “The building has been rescued,” said Mark Kubiniec, President Grant/Amherst Business Association and owner of Joe’s Service Station (corner of Amherst and Elmwood).  “She’s going to save this building, and I’m not sure that many people are aware of the magnitude of this development – the building was designed by the same architect who built Assumption Church just down the street – Buffalo architect Carl Schmill. It’s an iconic set of buildings in our neighborhood and it’s a remarkable save for the city.”


Frenchy is planning on hosting a late August open house, in the same manner that she has done with her previous purchases. “I’m looking for a business that will complement the street,” she told me. “I’m already being contacted by interested parties who want to open inside 479 Amherst Street. I have a feeling that there is going to be a tremendous amount of excitement moving forward, especially considering how close we came to losing the building.”

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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