Every Buffalo district needs a champion. Now, one has emerged in Riverside. This past May, Justin Dahl opened Queen City Fine Arts. The guy dumped his life’s savings into the investment, unsure if it would ever pay off. But he took the chance, along with his wife Kelly. The two not only purchased a building, restored it, and opened a gallery and artisan and art gallery, they also built out a ceramics studio in the basement.
While these investments were beyond what most would undertake, Justin immediately realized that in order to protect the investment he would have to bolster the spirit of the district, which has been a bit despondent over the years.
If we take a moment to think about the overall successes in our urban districts, they usually have someone – a champion – pushing hard for the collective. Along Grant Street we have had Prish Moran. In Black Rock, I would have to say it’s Sue Cholewa and Doreen DeBoth, Sue’s predecessor. These people are drivers, who tend to get everyone else onboard via their inherent passion for wanting a better quality of life for all. These are the property and business owners (sometimes both) that understand that they just can’t simply sit back and wait for neighborhoods to turn around.
The neighborhood champions are also curious. They want to know who else is out there making investments of any kind, whether it’s the residents or the business owners. They set out to discover the history of their districts, by talking to those who have been around for decades. They also strive to help the young investors who might need a little hand holding. In the end, it’s all about developing a team, or network, so that everyone can participate in the incremental success.
This past summer, I ran into Justin Dahl at the corner of Amherst Street and Niagara Street, where he was helping to install an interactive community play park. It was then that I realized that he was entrenched in Riverside and Black Rock. I’ve seen this same sort of passion and drive from others over the years. Justin is a believer that rising tides float all boats. And when I refer to ‘boats’, I’m talking about myriad businesses that have suddenly sprouted up in Riverside (especially) that I was not even aware of.
As part of a recent Blizzard Bazaar holiday event series (this past Friday), Justin gave me a tour of up and coming Riverside, and pretty much blew my mind. There were so many recent success stories that I was not aware of, from a killer new sandwich shop to a young creative who has undertaken his dream of opening an impressive and spacious art studio. I was originally going to write one comprehensive article, featuring all of these fresh new faces, but then I realized that the laundry list was way too long. So over the next couple of weeks, we are going to feature a number of these new entrepreneurs in a series that we’re calling Riverside Revival – Riverside, through the eyes of Justin Dahl.
Queen City Fine Arts | 1111 Tonawanda Street | Riverside NY | (716) 222-1920
All photos are of Queen City Fine Arts | Lead image courtesy Justin Dahl