Stores We Wish Were Still In Buffalo
Story by Steve Riter
In today’s fragile economy it is quite difficult for small business owners and mega corporations alike to turn a profit. Having long term success in an area that needs to be thrifty just to pay the bills is no easy task. Business comes and goes like hitchhiking hobos through our town, but some of them have left a hole that is tough to mend. These are 5 establishments that I miss:
A restaurant that invents such an amazing idea as “Pay What You Weigh” and charges you a penny per pound of body weight needs to be on this list. Ground Round was also one of the founders of the idea that it is Kosher to throw peanut shells on the ground when you are eating them, which led to their success and demise which I will get to in a second. Being handed popcorn instead of traditional bread before your meal was another quirky trait that made this restaurant original. As for the peanut shells on the ground, a fatal fire was blamed on those shells which Ground Round was astronomically sued over pretty much toppling the franchise.
For anyone that is too young to have experienced Brand Names it is too bad because this store was very interesting to say the least. You walked in to a setup that is very similar to a game show prize area. Random merchandise was on display throughout the store and in no cohesive order. When you decided that you did want to actually buy something (which in my case was usually a Nintendo game of some kind), you had to fill out a little cardboard order card with the secret numbers out of their catalog and that is when the real fun began. The staff member would then take your card to their back room and look to see if they have it in stock, while you wait in nervous expectation for your gift or bad news.
This restaurant was pretty damn cool, located on Elm Street downtown in a huge 19th century brick warehouse. Inside was exactly like than name implied with a rustic turn of the century warehouse feel and industrial décor. Now being sought after as a potential development for loft apartments the building just has an interesting look and vibe and was a great place to eat a meal. I will admit that I was very young when I ate here, but I was overwhelmed and remember thinking about how I was proud that a place like this exists in the city I live in.
For people that never had the opportunity to experience the Continental I will try to do it justice in the following sentence: It was a bar/concert venue that was a mix between an awful vampire movie, a funeral home and a homeless shelter. The bottom floor had a bar that would serve drinks that tasted like kerosene and a pretty decent sized stage that hosted a surprising amount of good shows. Then if you were brave enough to go upstairs into the gothic brothel you were in for some fun. Any random night of the week upstairs would expose you to a melting pot of weirdo’s dancing with themselves in a room covered in mirrors to music that sounded like Marilyn Manson on Nyquil.
There will never be another store like Home of the Hits, which was located on Elmwood Avenue across from Mr. Goodbar. The advent of free music downloading and CD burning at home choked the life out of this local music store along with many of its corporate competition. This was a place where the people who worked there actually knew what they were talking about. Employed by musicians and local DJ’s along with just interesting people, you could go to HOTH at noon and walk out of there at 2PM with concert tickets and 3 CD’s of bands you didn’t even know walking in. This is part of the demise of music. Cool places like this just do not exist anymore.