It was in December of ’08 that I witnessed the inspirational opening of Sweet_ness 7 on Grant Street – something that I remember clear as day because of the circumstances that surrounded the event (lead image). It was entrepreneur and social activist Prish Moran that opened the café, dedicated to her son who had passed away (Sweet_ness 7 was the passcode for his phone).
The opening of the business was a game changer for the entire West Side, and dare I say, for the city. Moran had purchased a significant corner building (Grant and Lafayette) that no one else would have touched at the time. And she renovated each of the storefronts, while reserving one of the spaces for her café. That café became a rallying cry for the rebirth of a city. At the time, I wrote this about the opening:
The café setting is reminiscent of what would have been found in an old-world Buffalo neighborhood at the turn of the century. It was magnificent. Months earlier I had seen an empty shell… now the brick walls and the wood floors looked as if the place had been open and cared for since the time the building had been built.
Joel Miller (photo above), Reverend of the Unitarian Universalist Church (W. Ferry and Elmwood), called upon friends and family to gather into a large circle. He then gave a heartfelt blessing which resounded throughout the room, as a soft quiet snow began to fall outside. I felt so proud for café owner Prish Moran – her hard work to recapture the vibrancy of that street corner had finally paid off. Risk takers like Prish are the people who deserve a key to the city of Buffalo.
Singlehandedly, Prish has done what few other would have ever attempted to do in an oft-struggling neighborhood. She has made her claim on the street in hopes that others will follow her lead with their own investments.
For some reason, out of all of the posts that I have written for BRO, this one resonates with me unlike any other. The opening was a long hard journey for Prish, her family and her friends. There are so many important layers to this story – this is a project that could have crashed before it even left the ground.
Over the weekend, I received a message from Moran that she was selling the building and the café. I knew that this day was coming, but it was still a big surprise to hear that the day had finally arrived. “I love my café business and my beautiful building. I love my West Side neighborhood. I truly love my staff and tenants. They are the reason that I have kept this going these past 12 years – but I love my freedom so much more,” said Moran. “I was always a decorative painter. I restored buildings. My degree is in art and design. I bought this boarded, vacant and dilapidated building in 2007 to restore a piece of Buffalo history in a forgotten neighborhood. I never imagined running in so many directions at once when I started this grand restoration of 7 apartments, 5 storefronts, and my own 2 businesses, as well as being a single mother of 2… all on my own.”
Moran has not only been a stalwart change agent on the West Side all of these years, she’s also been a cheerleader. But 12 years of busting one’s butt can take a toll, and it is no surprise that she is looking to shift directions at this stage of the game, especially with the relatively recent opening of The Tabernacle.
“I am out of my league in the bar/restaurant business. Sweet_ness 7 and The Tabernacle have grown to a point that it is so much bigger than me,” stated Moran. “I’m proud to step down and to let a professional take this business to the next level so that I can live free from this huge responsibility. I am 64 years. If not now, when? It’s been grand and I love Buffalo for supporting me. But it’s time to say goodbye. I will always hold Buffalo in my heart – it’s the city that I love most.”
Today marks the coming of an end of an era. This is a real tough one, Buffalo. I have so many mixed emotions, as I’m sure we all do. I am so sad to see Moran relinquish these assets, yet I am so happy for her to be freeing herself up to do whatever it is she is going to do next. At this point, Moran says that the only thing that she is planning is to “ditch her phone”. Knowing Moran… Prish… Miss Prishy… that’s going to be nearly impossible, because she’s become a motherly figure to countless people in the city of Buffalo, including myself.
The complex is for sale for $3 million.