After a couple of false starts, Ashker’s on Amherst Street is up and running. Angelo Ashker and Sarah Nasca have done it again. The new location is pretty awesome, and a great addition to Black Rock. Today (November 5) is the first day that the café is operating according to plan. Service started with breakfast burritos, pancakes, omelets, slow cooked oats, egg & pesto toast, spicy potato rolls, and plenty of breakfast sides.
I was fortunate to pop in yesterday, as Angelo and Sarah were huddled together in front of one of the breathtaking windows, hatching their plan of attack for coming days. There’s something very special about this couple. Not only do they have a great sense when it comes to operating a restaurant, from employees to food, they also sincerely care about the community. While sitting by the gas operating fireplace, munching on a homemade “poptart”, I listened to Angelo talk about their true desire to be a community resource, not just for coffee drinks, and baked items, but as an inspiration gathering place. For example, on Sundays they will be closed. But they plan on opening their doors anyways, so neighbors have a place to meet up after church, or wherever else they might be coming from. “We’re going to pass out coffee and baked goods,” said Angelo. “For free. It’s a way for us to be real part of the community. Eventually we want to do the same thing at all of our restaurants.”
Talking to Angelo and Sarah, one gets a sense about how much they really care for Buffalo, their adopted city that has allowed them to live out their dreams. They’re not in business simply for making money. They want to make a difference in the communities where they open their cafés. And each café is different. There is no “single” formula. Ashker’s Black Rock is about as “old world” as it gets. In the front window, starting soon, someone will be rolling out fresh pasta, similar to what you might see in Italy, or a sleepy side street in NY City. The menu will feature “made to order” pasta and homemade sauce. That’s going to set this location apart from the rest of the spots, even though they will still be serving up their delicious smoothies, pressed juices, sandwiches, salads, hot drinks, etc. “We’re hoping to work with Spar’s across the street,” Angelo mentioned. “We want to use their sausage for our breakfast sandwiches. It’s another reason we love Amherst Street so much. There’s so much heritage here, and a variety of ethnic backgrounds.”
The café serves up super inexpensive espresso drinks ($2 for an Americano!). Hot drinks include a cup of coffee for… $1, and a bottomless in-house coffee for $2!. Hot cocoa is $2 – talk about reasonable prices. Sarah said that they want to keep the prices affordable, so that everyone in the neighborhood has a chance to enjoy their offerings.
The interior of Ashker’s on Amherst Street is “perfecto”. The transom windows, tin ceilings, the rustic wide plank floors, the antique bakery case, the quirky school chairs with desk arms… it’s so simple. It’s a scene right out of a Vermont ski town… or Ellicottville, I suppose. It fits in perfectly with Amherst Street – a neighborhood that I have always considered possessing an “old soul”. It might have taken a while to get open, but the wait was worth every minute.
Ashker’s Black Rock | 414 Amherst Street | Buffalo NY | (716) 235-8328
Monday through Saturday, 6am to 9pm, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.