For years I’ve talked about increasing the number of commercial opportunities along Elmwood Avenue, in order to bridge the gap between residential section that hamper walkability. If more residential was converted to commercial, there would be additional spaces for potential businesses that are sometimes priced out of the neighborhood. In the past we have seen a couple of these types of conversions, but no real connectivity has occurred.
It never occurred to me that there was an opportunity that could be an easier lift – one that would take driveways and parking pads and turn them into “pop-up” business enterprises (on properly zoned districts).
A couple of months ago, Elmwood homeowner Mike Petronella decided that he could live without parking his car in the driveway. Instead he wanted to open up a shaved ice stand on top of his parking pad. He applied for a permit, bought a machine to shave the ice, and commissioned (locally) a mobile trailer to be converted into “Big Kahuna”. The stand is fashioned after a refreshing flavored ice stand that you might see at an amusement park. Big Kahuna opened this week, serving $3 shaved ice and $1 bottled waters.
“I park my car on the street now,” Mike told me. “And sell all natural Hawaiian ice – lemon, orange, orange-pineapple, with more flavors to come. Each morning I go to Wegmans and get fresh squeezed juices. Then I add a little organic sugar to sweeten it up (sugar free option coming soon), some shaved ice, and put it in a cup. Customers can eat it on the chairs that I provide or take it to go. I’ve decorated the stand to look eye-catching and fun. So far, people walking by tell me that they really like the idea.”
The addition of the Hawaiian ice stand adds a lot of zest to a section of Elmwood that could use a few more retailers and restaurateurs. I hand it to Mike for turning his driveway and parking pad into a destination on the street. On a hot summer’s day, Big Kahuna is an oasis on Elmwood and adds to the diversity and flavor of the district.
Big Kahuna | 1029 Elmwood Avenue | Buffalo NY