Construction Watch: Heritage Point

The two-building Heritage Point project at Main and Scott streets is taking shape. The development by Sinatra and Company Real Estate will include restaurant, retail and office space plus 61 apartments. It is being constructed on the South Aud Blocks located between the Explore & More Children’s Museum and Main Street.

The project includes two buildings with 103,000 sq.ft. of space separated by an open space area following a portion of the route of the former Prime Slip.

Each building will be six stories that includes a mansard roof level and basement level. The project was designed by Carmina Wood Design.

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Big Reveal: Toronto Power Reuse

A stunning redevelopment project is planned in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Niagara Parks is partnering with Pearle Hospitality to transform the Toronto Power Generating Station in Niagara Falls overlooking the Niagara River.  The proposal submitted by Pearle outlines a transformational private sector investment of over $200 million that will restore the National Historic Site while creating an unparalleled visitor experience befitting of its location overlooking the iconic Canadian Horseshoe Falls.  

Proposed uses include several indoor and outdoor public viewing areas, a variety of culinary options, a craft brewery, wellness spa, event space, museum and art gallery, a theatre and educational programming.   Designed by renowned architect E.J. Lennox, Toronto Power is a National Historic Site and former hydroelectric power station built on the banks of the upper Niagara River overlooking the iconic Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Built in 1906, Toronto Power supplied electricity for communities across Ontario before ceasing operations in 1974. Since that time, it has sat dormant.  

Pearle Hospitality brings a depth of experience in the reimagining of notable heritage properties across the province into dynamic, location-defining experiences, such as the Elora Mill Hotel and Spa, the Cambridge Mill, and the Ancaster Mill, demonstrating a meticulous approach to restoration, sense of place and design.  

A Letter of Intent has been signed between Niagara Parks and Pearle Hospitality, commencing a 120-day due diligence phase. The due diligence phase will include consultations, the development of heritage studies (Heritage Impact Assessment, Cultural Heritage Evaluation Report and Strategic Conservation Plan), environmental and archaeology assessments (where required) and contract negotiations.  

“Toronto Power is a globally recognized landmark of Canadian architecture and industry that has stood as a central feature of the Niagara Falls landscape for over a century. Overseeing its preservation and transformation from a dormant heritage building of national significance into a brand-new, one-of-a-kind visitor experience for the benefit of local residents and tourists alike, is the embodiment of what Niagara Parks stands for as an organization. This transformational investment will elevate the entire destination of Niagara Falls, solidifying its status as a global tourism icon for generations to come,” said April Jeffs, Chair of the Niagara Parks Commission.

 Work is expected to start next year and be completed in mid-2027.

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How to Take a Walk—in Buffalo, and Beyond: The Found Object

We continue the series on walking Buffalo, from the intrepid couple who walked every day—no matter the weather—in the first 30 months of Covid. They think (without being systematic) they walked every street in Buffalo, and many in other cities and towns, taking some 20,000 photos, some of which are shared in this series. While not itineraries, we hope to encourage others to “walk the walk,” to see, observe and appreciate Buffalo—and beyond. William Graebner and Dianne Bennett are also 5 Cent Cine’s film critics, here.

Today’s Photo-Essay: The Found Object

I recently submitted several photos for a juried photography exhibition at the Praxis Gallery and Photo Arts Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. The “call” was for photos of a “found object,” defined by the gallery as “a material artifact discovered by chance and assigned aesthetic value in an artist’s hand.” A found object could be something “discarded, forgotten, dropped, or misplaced—such as shoes, a fork, shopping carts, signs, doll heads, abandoned cars, clocks, or momentos….any object…so long as the artist believes that the discovered object possesses a certain aesthetic or talismanic quality stemming from its appearance, social, or personal history.” 

Surely, I thought, we had seen, and I had photographed, hundreds of “found objects” on our walks. Dianne said, “they’re everywhere.” 

As it turned out, they weren’t “everywhere,” even though, after we had the concept we kept a sharp eye out for “found objects” during our walks. And a search through the photo archive revealed surprisingly few objects that met Praxis’ criteria. Here are a few that we thought might qualify. One of them was accepted into the exhibition. 

I call this one “Amity Street,” because that’s where we found it—and because the name of the East Side street reminds me of the 1979 film, “The Amityville Horror”:

It soon became clear that a stuffed animal was one of the most common of the found objects. They get thrown out, and there’s something poignant about a big panda in the trash. This guy somehow got trapped upside down between layers of an East Side window:

Another maltreated stuffed animal appeared to have its snout caught in a trash bin—and for long enough to be enveloped by a spider web. One imagines that there was originally intent here, that the toy was put in that position on purpose, but there’s also a sign of abandonment that qualifies the bear as a “found object.”

The found object in this photo isn’t a stuffed animal, but it is stuffed, and rather mysterious, dressed up in a racing suit. We found it in North Tonawanda. 

Even more macabre, we thought, was a discarded doll, enmeshed with other objects, on a dirt and cinder path leading up to railroad tracks in Black Rock. One can’t help but assign the doll a “personal history,” in the words of the gallery call. 

The Praxis call mentioned shoes, and if you walk enough, you’ll come across them. Here are two of our shoe finds, one on a downtown street corner (a pair), the other on an old firebox (a single sneaker) at the corner of Linwood and West Ferry:

Laundry carts were also mentioned in the call, and we found a good example, in the green muck of what was once a group of nicely crafted cement ponds, on the site of what used to be Tee to Green driving range, off Hertel Avenue. The sign on the cart reads, “No Children Permitted in Laundry Carts.” 

At one time a major factory site, Tee to Green is a good place to search for found objects. People like to camp (and even sleep) there. The bed in this otherwise bucolic scene likely has what the Praxis Gallery would term a “social history.” And it may have been “discarded.” Or maybe not. 

An abandoned vehicle seems far too easy a find. We’ve seen dozens (admittedly, most of them in the Rome countryside). We came upon this one—an impressive example, we thought—while walking the Niagara Gorge. 

A screen door used as a storage area for cans is rare; this is the only one we’ve ever seen. And it may be a found object.

We consider this small shelter a found object because it’s a) been abandoned and b) is “talismanic,” a word in the call for work. It’s been abandoned, because it’s likely that its original purpose was to house a religious icon—like a statue of the Virgin Mary—and we know it hasn’t served that purpose since we first saw it three years ago. And it is, or was, “talismanic” (in this case, a representation with protective powers). West Side. 

Oddly enough, our encounters with found objects included two Christian crosses, one fallen—one could say, “dropped” (in the Fruit Belt)—and the other, clearly, discarded (on Genesee Street). 

This “bike on a tree” may not have been discarded, forgotten, dropped, or misplaced, but there’s something aesthetic about it, having to do with its “appearance.” 

We’ve been admiring this West Side “sidewalk trailer” for several years, and this seemed the moment to celebrate it. It may not be a “found object,” but it’s one-of-a-kind.

This one’s definitely a found object. Or rather, a number of found objects—covid masks—discarded by their users, no doubt doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers, shedding their masks after a day at work in the medical corridor, just to the south of where this photograph was taken. The overall found object—the pole and the masks that decorate it—speaks to what we’ve been through. The pole remains, but the last time we walked by, the masks were gone.

© William Graebner

To view more of this series, click here.

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Ujima’s 12 Mo’ Angry Men: A Contemporary Exploration of Justice, Race, and Community in Buffalo

In the heart of Buffalo, Ujima Company is taking audiences on a gripping journey with its latest production—a contemporary and thought provoking adaptation of the award-winning play and film,12 Angry Men, written by Reginald Rose. 12 Mo’ Angry Men, written and directed by Buffalo native TaNisha Fordham, skillfully transports the narrative to present-day America, infusing it with a powerful resonance that speaks directly to the challenges and complexities of our times.

Fordham, an emerging writer, director, performer, and producer, has deep roots in Buffalo. After working on Broadway’s recent revival of Company, she returns to Buffalo with her original adaptation of Rose’s story, asking the audience to consider pressing issues of justice, race, and systemic bias. 

The plot of this production revolves around the deliberations of a jury of 11 black jurors and 1 white juror tasked with determining the guilt or innocence of a white police officer who fatally shot a 16-year-old black teen. In a society grappling with heightened awareness of police brutality and racial injustice, Fordham’s adaptation promises to be an electrifying exploration of the complexities surrounding such cases.

Listen to the Full Interview:

WNY Soundstage
Interview with multi-hyphenate artist, TaNisha Fordham about her play ’12 Mo’ Angry Men’ at Ujima Theatre Dec 1-17



Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 00:38:40 | Recorded on November 27, 2023

Fordham’s inspiration for the piece came during the pandemic. “Most people are familiar with 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose, and during the pandemic I was doing a lot of distance cycling and listening to audiobooks while I was doing it,” shared Fordam.

And so one day, I found myself listening to 12 Angry Men, and I was struck. I mean, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. How relevant that piece was and is, in light of what was happening in the country at that time with the murdering of Brianna Taylor [and] Ahmad Arbury. And that’s just like continuing the list of people who have faced all different types of injustices… I always feel like I can’t not do anything… I’m a writer. I’m a director. This is what I can do. And so I wrote in light of that, kind of how I felt that case or deliberation would go if it were happening modern day in Mississippi… in Jackson, because, of course what was required in order for this piece to work where eleven black jurors and one white juror are deliberating on the guilt or innocence of a white officer who shot and killed a black teen, what would be necessary is, like, why would there be 11 black jurors? Like where in the United States are we, that there are so many black people on this case? And so I did research, about what parts of the country have that dense of a black population that that would realistically, that that could potentially realistically happen. And so that’s where we landed in Mississippi.

Ujima Company, known for its commitment to presenting works that reflect the African-American experience, continues to enact its mission with Fordham’s adaptation. The decision to set this classic story in the current socio-political climate amplifies the play’s impact, inviting audiences to engage in crucial conversations about justice, inequality, and the role of race in our legal system.

 “I think at the heart of it, the creation of the piece is about community,” Fordham said. “It’s about how we show up for each other in community, or how we don’t show up for each other in community. It’s about an opportunity to bring people who may not be a part of the community into the fold, and what that would do to heal some of these very toxic repeating cycles. How we’re not going to be able to heal as a world and as a nation without being able to see the humanity in folks first and foremost.  And that doesn’t mean that we don’t still have questions or that we still don’t agree, but that we have to stop and take a second to see like the person that I’m having a conversation with feels as visceral about whatever they feel as I do.” 

12 Mo’ Angry Men has been performed a number of times, and the reaction to the piece has always started conversations.  During the initial run of the play, Fordham would facilitate talkbacks afterward, and was always surprised by the conversations that the play inspired.  Her work truly seems to bring the original intent of the source material into the 21st century.  “Reginald Rose’s son, Jonathan came to our off Broadway run and just said that he felt like it was like honoring the legacy of the work, and his father would have been [proud,] which is always so great to hear,” shared Fordham.

12 Mo’ Angry Men runs December 1-17 on The Lorna C. Hill stage at Ujima Company. Tickets are available here.  

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Some facts, observations, and heard-on-the-streets, including Tim Kennedy’s campaign to replace Brian Higgins, who is heading to Shea’s

December is normally a slow month for local politics but the speculation and jockeying for a congressional seat, potential aftershocks to that event, and the Buffalo Common Council presidency will keep things churning.  There will also be the start of presidential convention delegate petitioning on December 12th and the impending Court of Appeals decision about congressional redistricting to keep the attention of politicos.

Here are some facts, observations, and heard-on-the-streets for your consideration:

The horrific tragic accident at the Rainbow Bridge last week brought out the worst in some Republicans and their allies in the electronic media.  Surprise, surprise, they jumped to conclusions before law enforcement officers provided the facts.  It’s just the latest indication that the party does not know how to lead.

Vivek Ramaswamy outdid himself once again by tweeting:  “we must secure our *NORTHERN* BORDER TOO.  It’s the forgotten frontier of the border crisis in our country.”  What say ye Ramaswamy Deputy Communications Director Stefan Mychijliw?

Shea’s Performing Arts Center has officially announced the appointment of Congressman Brian M. Higgins as its next President and Chief Executive Officer. Tim Kennedy’s campaign to replace Brian Higgins in NY26 is moving along with campaign emails and perhaps sponsorship of a poll that was being conducted by text last week.  As of November 27th he is still the only prospective candidate who has set up an authorized committee with the Federal Election Commission.

Michael Keane’s campaign for Erie County District Attorney is off and running with the Democratic County Committee’s endorsement.  A primary seems unlikely.  Attorney James Gardner of Judge Kenneth Case’s staff is reported to be the Republican candidate, although another potential candidate from a prominent law office might also be interested.

If Kennedy becomes the Democratic nominee for NY26 he would be giving up his 63rd District seat in the State Senate.  That will mean that a Democratic primary might develop.  Petitioning for congressional, state legislative and local offices will begin at about the end of February so candidate declarations and party endorsements are nearly right around the corner.

Might the interest of some members of the Buffalo Common Council in that seat affect the decision about who will be the next President of the Council?

If Kennedy were to win the NY26 special election then Governor Kathy Hochul would need to schedule another special election for the Senate seat.  That would likely happen in July, which would mean that in some parts of the county there would be four elections in four months.

The state Court of Appeals decision about the redistricting of the state’s congressional districts will be announced in the near future, but the special election will probably be conducted with the lines drawn by the Special Master in 2022 regardless of the Court’s decision.

Even if the 2022 lines continue to be used for the 2024 congressional elections it appears that five New York Republicans newly elected in 2022 will still have a hard time defending the House seats they barely won two years again.  Watching them explain their association with far-right House Speaker Mike Johnson will be interesting.

Actually that will probably be four seats in play with the anticipated expulsion of George Santos from NY3.  Former Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi is coalescing support for a return to Washington.

There will be a Republican primary in the 147th Assembly District currently represented by far-right Member David DiPietro.  Mitch Martin, who is a member of Sheriff John Garcia’s administrative team, will be the challenger.  Will Martin leave his county position for the campaign?  And who might the Erie County Republican Committee support?  They haven’t done so well with primaries in recent years.

Perhaps overlooked a bit on Election night 2023, Democrats in the Town of Aurora, which has a slight Republican plurality in voter enrollments, re-elected Aurora Town Council member Luke Wochensky and newly elected Ray Brazen.  The Town Board has a Democratic majority.  It wasn’t so long ago that Republicans controlled most everything in the town.

“Elections have consequences” defeated Republican/Conservative candidate for Erie County executive, Chrissy Casilio, has been commenting as she tweets about some public issues.  They certainly do, Ms. Casilio.

As a homeowner in the Town of Amherst I am having a hard time understanding the 11 percent property tax increase that the Town Board will impose in 2024.  Although I’m a budgets and numbers person, I admit that I haven’t gotten too deeply into the weeds on this subject.  I do note that Amherst’s two large neighboring towns, Cheektowaga and Tonawanda, both operating relatively large governments like Amherst, are managing to keep their 2024 tax increases below the two percent state-imposed property tax increase cap for 2024.

I note with sadness the recent passing of Gayle Syposs, City of Tonawanda’s Democratic Committee Chair, and Camille Brandon, who held a variety of public positions prior to her most recent work with O’Donnell & Associates.  Both of the ladies served their communities and party admirably for many years.  May they rest in peace.

The Erie County Conservative Party on December 9 will honor businessman Gene Vukelic with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Community Service.  Regardless of Mr. Vukelic’s political activities I have had a positive personal impression of him beginning in the 1970s when I worked at the Erie County Legislature.  One of the most contentious issues of the time was a county “bottle bill,” which was not implemented locally but then several years later became law in the state.  Mr. Vukelic was an honest and gentlemanly advocate in the issue.  That was in the days when such things mattered much more than today.  Congrats Gene!

It looks like the Bills’ loss to Philadelphia Sunday evening, given the difficulty of the remaining schedule, brought an end to the playoffs and Super Bowl chase for 2023.  The 2024 team will probably look a lot different than this year’s version, particularly on the defensive side and with the coaching staff.

Ken Kruly writes about politics and other stuff at

X/Twitter @kenkruly |Threads   kenkruly

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2023 Holiday Market at Fits Books & Waffles

Holiday Markets come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. This holiday season, in downtown Buffalo, Fits Books & Waffles is hosting a curated holiday market on Saturday, December 2, featuring the following five all-star vendors that will be in the shop from 10 to 4 PM:

73 Feathers, creator of stylish clothing and hoodies reflecting the region’s indigenous design culture

Hadas Steiner, offering an array of stunning, well-curated modern jewelry pieces

Alison From Earth, creator of a stylish, upcycled fashion line

Christina Buscarino, maker of unique artisan jewelry and designs

Pigeon House Pots, offering beautiful artisan ceramics

While you’re in the shop, you can inquire about the books that made it onto this year’s FITZ Holiday Book Picks list.

Julia Dzwonkoski’s
Two Eyes in an Environment  – Existential cartoons with ghosts and the occasional rat | Ric Royer’s 
Niagara Falls, NY
– An absurdist excursion through the no-place where the ghosts of honeymoons past meet the ravages of American industry
From Buffalo-born novelist Ed Park comes a wild, sweeping novel that imagines an alternate secret history of Korea and the traces it leaves on the present—loaded with assassins and mad poets, RPGs and slasher films, pop bands and the perils of social media.

“We just put our FITZ Holiday Book Picks list today. It include 9 or 10 Buffalo-related books, a few of which are brand new, including a new novel (Same Bed Different Dreams) that launched, receiving international acclaim. It’s by Buffalo-born novelist Ed Park. [There’s] lots of activity this week and next as we head toward the holidays. This Friday, we’ll host two of our favorite collaborators—artist and writer Julia Dzwonkoski and author Ric Royer—for a double book launch.  On Saturday, we’ll host five fabulous vendors for a Holiday Market.  And next week, we have local legends Mike Mulley and Julian Montague in the shop for book signings on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.” – Aaron Bartley (owner of Fits Books & Waffles)

Of course, while you’re paying a visit to this unique Buffalo bookstore, you’re going to want to try out one of their famous Liege waffles.

Everyone deserves a quality book this holiday season. Therefore, be sure to support our local bookstores that sift through the crud, to bring you the best authors on the scene. Plus, when you support a locally owned, independent bookstore, you support Buffalo.

Fits Books & Waffles | 433 Ellicott St, Buffalo, NY 14203 | (716) 249-0523

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Gloria Grahame Film Noir Series

As the holiday season progresses, one of the best loved movies, “It’s a Wonderful Life” will receive multiple TV airings and local screenings. Most everyone familiar with the movie knows, Gloria Grahame from her first big role as Violet Bick, the town hottie and James Stewart’s suppressed lust interest.   

Grahame went on to star in a number of classic Hollywood Noir films.

To celebrate the gifted Oscar winner’s centennial of her birth year (1923, died 1981) the Screening Room Cinema and Arts Café will screen a consecutive double feature Wednesdays on 11/29 and 12/6 presenting four stylish, suspenseful films featuring co-stars Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Robert Young, Humphrey Bogart, Lee Marvin, Joan Crawford, and Jack Palance.

What adds to the experience is the unique café setting that the Screening Room provides.  Many of the films being shown include nightclub or café scenes that will give the viewer a sense of being  right in the action.

Film directors represented include “Hollywood Ten” figure, Edward Dmytryk, Hollywood renegade, Nicholas Ray (with whom she had a brief but tumultuous marriage), and masterful German transplant, Fritz Lang. 

The films will be introduced by producer and host, Marty McGee with the generously support from Williamsville, NY.   Admission is $6 or $10 for the double feature.

Wednesday, November 29th – the day after her birthday   

Double feature

7:00 PM”Crossfire” (1947) Director: Edward Dmytryk 

8:45 PM “In a Lonely Place” (1950)  Director: Nicholas Ray

Wednesday, December 6 

Double feature

7:00 PM “The Big Heat”  (1953) Director: Fritz Lang

8:45 PM  “Sudden Fear” (1952) Director: David Miller

Also see TCM Comments on Sudden Fear

Location: The Screening Room Cinema & Arts Cinema

Boulevard Mall

1265 Niagara Falls Blvd (Store #207) Amherst, NY   14226

(Separate entrance outside of mall facing Wegmans & Alberta Drive) 

(716) 837-0376

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International Performance Duo Brings Powerful Work-in-Progress Inspired by Kurdish Culture to Buffalo

International physical and puppet theatre duo Audrey Rose Dégez (France/USA) and Daria Holovchanska (Ukraine) are in the midst of writing a brand new physical theatrical performance inspired by Kurdish culture. The actresses are basing this new work off of three main cultural inspirations: the oldest surviving epic poem (Gilgamesh), poetry by contemporary Kurdish poet Kajal Ahmad, and documentary accounts from Kurdish women. The new theatrical performance is set to take place at the Bird’s Nest Circus Arts on December 1 and 2, upon which time the two women actresses will incorporate masks and marionettes to tell the stories. The works will feature work-in-progress performances with audience talk-backs.

“Our project is a beautiful and poetic production that explores Kurdish culture, one of the oldest surviving world cultures,” said Berivan Alothman, Promotional Manager for CP4P International Productions. “Due to its location, a long history of tension in the Middle East has threatened Kurdish cultural transmission for at least 90 years and the fight for the right to exist has been a long and bloody one for the Kurds. With a talented cast and a dedicated production team, we are creating a new, original performance through devised techniques, including work-in-progress performances with audience talk-backs, such as those which will take place in Buffalo, to stimulate curiosity and host dialogue about the Kurdish resistance and struggles for their own identity and also to entertain and inspire the Buffalo community.”

CP4P International Productions develops and tours new, original works with talented refugee artists around the world, inspired by cultures in crisis due to political conflict or ecological disaster. Image: Audrey and Daria rehearsal

Alothman went on to say, “This project is especially timely in today’s events. I believe that the production history makes this story worth sharing. Last year, Dégez invited 5 friends from Ukraine, talented artists and actors who all came from the Kharkiv region to join herself and her 6-month old daughter Lili Maritchka in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a 5-month artistic residency and tour project called Slovo. Theater Group. [The group] fought for Ukraine on the cultural front, gave safe space, working space, and purpose to young Ukrainians and promoted Ukrainian culture during a critical time. 

Slovo. Theater Group’s performance of Mothermotherland

“Due to the overwhelming success of last year’s project, Dégez invited Holovchanska to join her in developing CP4P International Productions, which produces and tours new, original works with talented international artists, inspired by cultures in crisis due to political conflict or ecological disaster. Furthermore, they provide community outreach to the communities where we perform through workshops, masterclasses, sliding scale or free admission to our performances, as well as by hiring additional personnel for our tour directly from the refugee community. 

“The new work, I will dance with those oak trees as long as is currently in process…”

In March of 1988 in Halabja, Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s regime committed an atrocious genocide of Kurdish peoples through the use of chemical weapons. Set in a carpet store at this time, I will dance with those oak trees as long as takes us on a poetic voyage into the life of three Kurdish women, inspired by the poetry of Kajal Ahmad and the characters Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and Ninsun from the world’s most ancient epic poem: Gilgamesh. Carpets, chairs, and strings create the environment in which two actresses interpret the three different women and how they react to a violent and unstable outside world. Accompanied by soundscapes inspired by traditional Kurdish music, this international duo uses objects, puppets, and a multilayered world of reality, dreams, memories, and visions to explore the question of what it means to be a hero when you have no other choice.

I will dance with those oak trees as long as

December 1 + 2, 2023

Doors are at 7pm, show begins at 7:30pm

60 min Run Time, followed by a talk back with the cast

Tickets – $20 online

Limited availability at the door for pay-what-you-can cash option

Bird’s Nest Circus Arts | 66 Fillmore Ave, Buffalo, NY 14210

See Facebook event

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Roux Soup Bar & Café

A café for the “Soup Obsessed” located in the Burchfield Penney Art Center

There’s a new soup bar in town, owned by Jason and Amy Davidson, who know a thing or two about soups. Jason, who also owns The Liberty Hound and The Terrace at Delaware Park, has been flexing his muscles for cooking a mean soup for decades. Now, Jason and Amy’s latest venture – Roux Soup Bar & Café – is undergoing a soft opening at Burchfield Penney Art Center.

Some of Jason’s previous ventures, including Fables Café, Waterline Café, and Roux Café @ Canalside, have all had a strong presence in the soup department. When I met up with him over the weekend, he told me that making scratch soups has always been one of his strengths.

“My son’s middle name is Roux (a cooked mixture of equal parts flour and fat that is a base for a soup such as gumbo),” Jason told me. “It’s also the perfect name for a soup bar. My favorite soup to make is gumbo. We’re famous for out spicy African peanut soup (vegan and gluten free), which won SoupFest twice. At Roux at the Burchfield, we have six rotating soups every day. We’re offering the Holy Trinity of combos, which is a soup, a half salad, and a half panini. Roux is the perfect spot to grab a lunch, or a dinner to take home to the family. We’re perfectly situated in close proximity to the Elmwood Village, and North Buffalo. We are offering delivery through our website, and other delivery services, so that everyone can get their hands on some amazing quarts of soup this winter.”

Now that Jason and Amy’s kids are older, they are spending more time cultivating their restaurant concepts. They are excited to be a part of the Burchfield Penney, especially with everything happening along the cultural corridor, with the expansion of the AKG Gallery Museum and the Richardson-Olmsted Campus. By coming up with this new café experience, they feel that they are contributing to the momentum.

Along with a host of soups, salads, paninis, wraps, and combos, Roux is proudly serving up a signature “Burchfield” blend of coffee from Premier Gourmet. Plus, Jason is currently rolling out a “Soup-Oh-Gram,” where people can submit an order of chicken noodle soup to be delivered to “someone in need.” An order consists of a quart of Nanna’s Chicken Noodle with fresh bread and a “get well note,” delivered directly to someone’s front door. 

Other combo offerings include:

Duett of soups | Choice of two soups with small salad & bread

Perfect Pair | Choice of soup with half salad or half panini

Eat in, take out, get it delivered (5 mile radius), or sit out on the second floor patio (when the weather is nice). This all-season café is just what the doctor ordered, especially for all of the soup fiends out there.

Roux Soup Bar & Café @ Burchfield Penney Art Center

1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14213 | 716.878.3253

Visit for days and hours, and to place an order

View menu

Paid admission to museum not required

Plenty of parking in large lot for $1 per hour

Easy pick-up in roundabout (no parking fee)

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Nostalgia and Holiday Cheer come to The Lancaster Opera House Stage with the play A Christmas Story!

THE BASICS: A CHRISTMAS STORY, A comedy adapted by Philip Grecian, based on the motion picture “A Christmas Story” written by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, Bob Clark, directed by David Bondrow, starring John Scherer, Carter Riccio, Kelly Bove, Ray Boucher, Vivienne Gaetanos, Lauren Teller, Connor Brown, Austin Leumer, Clara Pitcairn, Emerson Disch, and Mason Williams. Nov 24-Dec 10, Thurs-Sat 7:30pm, Matinees Saturdays and Sundays 2:30 (Note Saturday 11/25 matinee only after Fire Truck parade; no evening performance), Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave, Lancaster, NY 14086 (716) 683-1776 

RUNTIME: 120 minutes with a 15 minute intermission

THUMBNAIL SKETCH: Set in Hohman, Indiana, in the 1940s, Ralph as an adult (John Scherer) narrates the story of his childhood as Ralphie Parker, himself at 9 years old (Carter Riccio), takes on the quest of getting a genuine Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. He plots to drop hints subtly to his mother, known as “Mother” (Kelly Bove), and his father, known as “The Old Man” (Ray Boucher), so his little brother, Randy (Vivienne Gaetanos) doesn’t get any ideas of wanting the same thing, therefore ruining his whole plan.

When asked what he wants for Christmas at the kitchen table Ralphie blurts it out anyway and gets the same response from Mother, as well as later in the story from his teacher, Miss Shields (Lauren Teller), and even Santa in the Higbee’s Department Store – “You’ll shoot your eye out!” The story follows Ralphie’s vibrant imagination and many nostalgic moments from the beloved motion picture like his friend and classmate, Flick (Connor Brown) getting his tongue stuck to an ice cold lamppost after a triple dog dare to try it, The Old Man winning a lamp shaped like a woman’s leg (and displaying it proudly in the window for all to see), and of course the school bully Scut Farkas (Mason Williams) who is known for twisting arms behind the other kids (mostly Flick’s) backs. Ralph as an adult narrates throughout the whole play, looking back on these moments from his childhood with almost as much fervor as when it happened to him as a kid.


The making of the play A Christmas Story’s journey begins with Jean Shepherd’s memoir “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” about his life growing up in the midwest in the 1940’s. In 1983, the Motion Picture by Turner Entertainment Co. was created based on this book and became a beloved Christmas classic. In 2000, the story was adapted by Philip Grecian into a stage play comedy.

The play begins with one man in front of the stage in a sweater vest, which we will soon learn is Ralph as an adult, played by John Scherer. He comes out to make announcements which then takes a smooth transition into the script. Descriptions of the holiday season along with actual garland and Christmas lights along the balcony of the theater give you the warm and fuzzy feeling of the joys of the holiday season, which is now upon us.

Scherer returns to Lancaster, his hometown, to play this role after playing several roles on Broadway since 1994. Scherer’s impressive repertoire of experience shows through his performance as he doesn’t skip a beat narrating the entire play, and even assuming the voice of a couple other minor characters throughout the show – his voice interpretation of Mrs. Schwartz will have you in stitches! Throughout the play he retells the stories as if he is still child Ralphie matching his enthusiasm and disappointment to young Ralphie’s as he relives the memories.

The clever set design by David Dwyer enables Scherer to start by standing in front of the stage and then he heads up the ramp in front of the stage to head into the home which is the main set throughout the show. The ramp serves as the enter and exit point for scenes outside of the house, and lighting is used to further this creative dimension. The wings of the stage are mainly used for the front door entrance to the house and the door to the backyard. The house is cleverly angled so you can see three different rooms in the house – the kitchen, the living room and Ralphie’s bedroom.

The lights come up and soon the family is all introduced to the audience. Mother is wearing a light colored dress with a bright blue apron, bringing a pop of color to the kitchen and tying together the color of the walls in the living room, giving you a very visually appealing view of a traditional 1940’s home. 

Carter Riccio really takes on the role of Young Ralphie with exceptional acting, as well as looking the part with his thick-framed glasses. He is up in his room looking through a magazine when he becomes enthralled by an advertisement for a genuine Red Ryder BB gun which is when he decides that is what he wants for Christmas. The plot mainly revolves around his desire for this gun. Despite seeming to be a timid boy in front of others, Riccio shows the many personality traits of Ralphie’s character by giving us a glimpse into his head throughout the play, through his enthusiasm for persuading the adults to let him have the gun, his cool and confident posture during his imaginary fantasies about protecting his family with the gun, and his hilarious exclamation of “Oh fudge!” when he drops the lug nuts helping The Old Man change a tire. He is a kind and thoughtful character who looks up to his father, carefully considering what to get him for Christmas, running upstairs to write down the things his father mentions.

Kelly Bove plays “Mother” with the many traditional traits of a 1940’s mother – the cook, the caretaker, the discipliner and the obedient wife. She proves to be very intelligent but she ultimately lets her husband make the decisions, and Bove does an excellent job showing this so the audience knows, without rubbing it in to “The Old Man.” The audience was especially excited about the classic moment of Mother putting soap into Ralphie’s mouth after getting into a fight at school. Stern with the boys when she needed to be but also soft and protective of them by making sure The Old Man isn’t too mad at Ralphie for getting into a fight.

The Old Man, played by Ray Boucher, is a businessman who is always trying to strike a deal or win in a competition. He wins a prize that he is so proud of winning that he can’t even see it is ugly, he is just so happy he won and he’s excited to show it off. Boucher plays this role well by showing his character’s sometimes dumb side, sometimes obnoxious side, but also his love for his wife and children. He takes a beating to the busted furnace with his golf club shouting all sorts of words that sound like expletives – sounding frustrated but not overly angry.

Miss Shields, played by Lauren Teller, is a recent graduate from SUNY Fredonia and plays a wonderful teacher who gives her students tough love, being stern, but caring. One of my favorite moments in the play was her interpretation of the Wicked Witch during one of Ralphie’s fantasies. It was nice that some of the fantasies allowed her to get out of her demure teacher kind of role and show multiple sides of her acting abilities – dramatic, funny, and sometimes evil. 

Photo by Gary McBride

Some of the other character’s notable moments include Randy, played by Vivienne Gaetanos, Ralph’s little brother, known for saying “I gotta go wee wee,” Flick played by Connor Brown who is constantly picked on and gets his tongue stuck to the ice cold lamp post, another friend and classmate, Schwartz, played by Austin Leumer, who gets blamed for teaching Ralphie an expletive similar to the word fudge – although he vehemently denies teaching him it, classmate Esther Jane Alberry, played by Clara Pitcairn, who has a very obvious and adorable crush on Ralphie, genius classmate Helen Weathers played by Emerson Disch, who has fooled the majority of scientists with her 3rd grade science project, and school bully Scut Farkas played by Mason Williams, often lit up in red showing off his wicked evil laugh.

The use of a fight director is obvious through the fighting scenes, the kid’s smooth rolls and somersaults, and realistic-enough punching and arm twisting scenes. Cutos to Steve Vaughan for his expertise in this show and the many others in the WNY region. 

The use of props stays simple with repurposing the kitchen chairs to represent the car as well as the kitchen table with a chalkboard behind it to indicate the classroom. Despite a few lighting snafus, it was well done overall. Sometimes I felt some of the characters could be mic’d better as Ralphie and some of the other characters were slightly hard to hear at some points. 

Starting and ending with the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with the season, whether you love the classic movie or have never seen it, A Christmas Story is sure to get you excited for the approaching holiday joy and the nostalgia will get you laughing like Saint Nicholas himself, but you will especially love it if this story is one you look back on fondly from your childhood. Don’t miss it before it’s over – A Christmas Story is up until December 10th – and get your ticket now before they’re sold out!

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

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