For years, we pleaded for Pizza Plant to open in the city. Then, a couple of years ago that dream came true. Urban pod lovers rejoiced that they could head down to Canalside to grab one of their favorite meals (see here). Since that time, business has been growing, despite the lack of dedicated parking for customers. On Sabres’ game days, the place is very busy. But the owners have been looking for ways to increase traffic on non-game days. One way of doing that was coordinating an arrangement with Benderson Development to gain access to parking for Pizza Plant customers.
“We recently acquired the use of the parking lot on Washington and Exchange streets from Benderson, which is great,” said co-owner Dan Syracuse. “And they approved signage, for us to let the world know that parking is now free… except for events like Sabres games – Benderson has use to charge for parking during games, which works for us since we have plenty of customers walking around.”
All appeared to be fine and dandy, until Pizza Plant ran into a roadblock. Apparently, after installing the agreed upon sign, NY State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) took issue with the arrangement.
“The sign has been up for about 10 days,” commented Syracuse. “After it went up the NYSTA that owns the land (Benderson leases) demanded we take it down, claiming that we are advertising. We are simply identifying who can park there! I’ve contacted all the politicians I know, and the Mayor’s office, to petition for us. At this point, it’s still in limbo. We are looking for public support here. After all, Buffalo cannot rise if common sense falls.”
To think, that in this day and age, we still have to deal with this petty and myopic way of thinking. Here we have a business that is a pioneer, by opening up at Canalside. Pizza Plant has taken a big chance, by believing in Downtown Buffalo, only to be harassed by the NYSTA. This is an ‘old Buffalo’ way of dealing with issues – there is no rational train of thought. Instead of working with Pizza Plant, the NYSTA is simply saying “Mine, mine, mine… our way or the highway!”
In 2017, Senator Tim Kennedy worked with the NYSTA to install Canalside signage on I-190 and Rt. 5 in Buffalo. Apparently those same NYSTA players could care less if there are any businesses open when people arrive. “These new signs will be very helpful to first-time visitors who are seeking out our revitalized waterfront this summer,” Visit Buffalo Niagara President and CEO Patrick Kaler said at the time. “We’re grateful to Senator Kennedy and all our state officials who continue to make tourism and visitor friendliness in Buffalo a priority.”
That was then. This is now, unfortunately.