There’s a new coffee house and roastery coming to South Park Avenue, not far from the Buffalo River and the Cobblestone District. Right off the bat, the fact that the business will be taking over a defunct funeral home will add some interest to the project. Playing off the unusual location, the owners decided to come up with a name that they felt best suited the scenario – Undergrounds. The name is a bit morbid, funny and ultimately uplifting as it culls from the building’s past use and its future use at the same time.
“The name encourages a lot of different ideas for things,” said Sara Heidinger, who owns the business along with Bill Metzger (McCarthy’s and Brewing News), and a third partner who has been a barista for a decade. “Bill and I are on the board of a local community center in the Old First Ward. After swimming at the center on numerous occasions, we wanted to grab a cup of coffee, and there was nowhere to get one. So we decided that we would open up a place. Then we noticed that the funeral home was for sale. Seeing that the property is centrally located, we felt that by opening a business we would be helping to grow this part of South Park into a business district. When I was young, there were a lot of places to walk to. I want to help make this a walkable district again.”
Listening to Sara describe her yearning to create a walkable neighborhood was very inspiring. She told me that she moved back from NYC four years ago because as a photographer she was limited by lack of funds that would allow her to travel. Living in Buffalo could afford her to do the things that she wanted, and today she is not only traveling, but opening a new business in the neighborhood where she grew up. When she was younger she was a waitress/bartender at The Swannie House, so she knows a thing or two about the service industry (and the neighborhood).
In order to be at the top of their game, Sara and Bill took a trip to Costa Rica to source beans. At the same time, they don’t want to be a stuffy coffee house. “We want to be accessible to everyone,” said Sara. “We don’t want to be intimidating. When my dad walks into a coffee shop he wants a simple, house cup of coffee. So we’re naming a cup of coffee after him – Just A Cup. We’re going to be somewhere in the middle of cutting edge and a place that serves a simple cup of coffee. We will also offer a light breakfast and lunch, and snack stuff. When I came back to Buffalo I wanted to be a part of the resurgence, not just for me, but for my family. It’s an awesome feeling knowing that I’m making a difference in the neighborhood where I grew up.”
Undergrounds is expected to open late December or early January opening.
Undergrounds Coffee House and Roastery | 580 South Park Avenue | Buffalo NY