The former First Niagara Bank at the corner of Elmwood and Potomac has blossomed into a full fledge neighborhood market. It’s called The Market on Elmwood, and owner Rasheed Ali has done a smashing job of delivering a market concept that is both comprehensive and a delight to support. When I first heard that the bank was closing, I knew that Elmwood had a real opportunity to create a lively corner out of the bland, utilitarian eyesore. And that’s exactly what happened. New windows were installed and a tasteful awning have helped to soften the building’s lower facade, which has long suffered from a pretty bad design butcher job. But it’s the inside of the business that really shines.
It’s surprising how much natural light the new windows allow into the space. The interior’s focal points include nice new flooring, wood and stone counters and cabinets, drop pendant lights, and country-market style chalkboard signage.
There’s a boatload of shiny equipment that Rasheed has purchased in order to turn the market into a one-stop-shop for the neighborhood. Without even asking, he toured me around the milkshake counter, where they also whip up smoothies, frozen yogurt, floats, Italian cream sodas, boats, and myriad ice cream flavors. From there we headed to the pastry case, which is dedicated to Dolci creations, and there’s also a freezer case filled with Dolci gelato (local to Buffalo).
Further down the long line of counter space is where the submarine sandwiches are made, using Costanzo’s bread. It’s also the place to order salads, flatbreads, paninis, wraps, breakfast sandwiches, burgers, melts, sides, tacos, wings, fingers… when I say that this place has it all, I’m not kidding.
Normally when I walk into a corner market, it’s begrudgingly to snag a bag of chips or maybe a six pack. This place is different. Talking to Rasheed, his pride in the place is contagious. As we spoke, he was brimming with joy over each and every aspect of the business. “Next we’re putting in a salad bar,” he told me. “And a hot meal station for people who want to pick up something to eat on the way home. It’s not just going to have your typical meals… it’s going to feature a number of ethnic dishes, such as Indian. Did you see the photos on the wall [pointing]? The photographer is Blake Dawson. He takes incredible aerial shots of Buffalo. We want people to feel comfortable here, and we want to offer them an experience when it comes to shopping in a market. We pride ourselves on our displays, while offering a wide array of goods – from deli meats to customer staples to the craft beer selection.”
When it comes to shopping at the typical 7-11-ish market, you always know what you’re in-store for. It’s a generic experience that leaves the customer flat, with no expectations. The Market on Elmwood is nothing like that. You can still get the basics, but you will also leave with some delicious surprises. Shopping at places like this replaces the hassle with something more uplifting.
If I had any suggestions for Rasheed, I would say (down the line), put in an ice cream window to the street with some picnic benches on Potomac, and replace the ugly gray Spackle-cement facade treatment left over from the days of the bank. Other than that, I am very happy to support this new business on the street and can’t wait to see what’s in store in the future for Rasheed and his market.
The Market on Elmwood | 1000 Elmwood Avenue | Buffalo, New York | (716) 881-0500 | Facebook