It’s hard to think about Grant Street without thinking of Frontier Liquors, a business that has been around for over 70 years. About a month ago, I noticed that there was some serious remodeling was underway, which prompted me to call over to the retailer. I ended up speaking with the store’s manager, Coleen Reeves, who told me that they were still about another month and a half away from completion, mainly due to construction materials being on backorder because of the pandemic. But seeing the work that is underway, is not only refreshing, it’s inspiring.
For years, I have hoped that this prime corner-situated building lot would get a spruce-up, mainly because Frontier is such an iconic Buffalo business – does anyone remember the life-size white horse that once stood in front of the business?
Aside from the white horse, this business itself has been a reliable favorite of the neighborhood for decades. Unfortunately, the wear and tear finally got the best of the structure, which was looking ragtag, with boarded up windows up top, pealing paint, and other signs of weathering, amplified by an overall dated appearance.
Now, those dated days are over and done with, as a new building emerges from the ashes.
“I’ve been living in the neighborhood since 1990,” Coleen told me. “I’ve seen the neighborhood go up and down. It’s starting to pick up again – a lot of businesses are fixing their places up right now. The owner of the Asian market next door just came in and said, ‘Now I have to paint.’ And a couple of other nearby businesses say that when spring comes they are going to spruce up their places.”
I asked Coleen who was responsible for Frontier’s new look, and she said, “The owner is Kulwinder Kaur – she bought the building and the business ten years ago. She waited until the time was right to fix it up – she’s also remodeling the inside of the liquor store by the end of the year. When it’s done, you won’t even recognize it – it’s going to look great. She’s also fixing up the beverage side and remodeling the residential units upstairs. She rents a space to a barber shop on the corner, and to Cricket – Cricket will be remodeling in the spring.”
Coleen told me that Kulwinder got a funding incentive boost from a Grant Street Revitalization Project, but that the project was also a huge investment out of pocket. “She plays an active role too – she comes in every day and the customers love her,” said Coleen.
As for the status of iconic white horse?
“You mean Whitey? The police department didn’t want us to put it out on the sidewalk anymore because it was an obstruction,” Coleen said [chuckling]. “Now he’s going to be going on a sign on top of the building!”
That’s more good news, thanks to the dedication of a business owner that understands the importance of fixing up a significant building in a commercial district that could use more people leading by example. I’ll be following up on all of these developments, as they come to pass, and hopefully even more as other building owners take notice… and stock in their neighborhood.”
Frontier Liquors | 121 Grant Street | Buffalo NY 14213 | (716) 883-6277