Tag Archives: Niagara

Page’s Whistle Pig

1 Mar

A recipe:

Business boomed at the little restaurant, where its famous “Whistle Pig” was invented in the 1950s. The delicacy is a hot dog wrapped in a strip of bacon, covered with melted cheese, and served on a fresh roll.

All hail the possibility that the Whistle Pig may be returning to the town of Niagara. I had one of those once about 10 years ago, and I think I’m still full from it.

(Photo Credit Richard Kegler via Flickr)

What Happens in Niagara Stays in Niagara

9 Oct


I get the distinct impression that the Jim/Pam wedding was a shark-jumping moment for the show, but the episode itself was great.

If It Weren't For Pyrrhic Victories…

25 Sep

first-niagara-logo-300x71A few weeks ago, Mark Byrnes wrote a piece excoriating First Niagara Bank for not choosing to locate its HQ in downtown Buffalo, opting instead to remain on the Pendleton side of South Transit Road. He argued:

1. Historically, financial companies like to be located next to other financial companies. So what about being footsteps from HSBC, M&T, Bank of America, and Key Bank-some of the largest banks in the country, and world.

2. Downtown Buffalo is about 10 minutes closer to the airport and there is better public transit options for the airport and higher-speed roads with closer access to a downtown site parcel for the airport (the 33). There are also far better options for business meetings over lunch or dinner or even sporting events.

3. On the most simplistic base…if most of your workforce is in Erie County, then why don’t you locate in the most centralized part of Erie County?

4. Image-wise…how does your site-surrounded by farm land and subpar retail enhance your image as a growing regional bank? Not very well. This ties into #2.


Nothing like seeing significant development continue to pop up in remote, low-density areas while our high-density areas continue to hollow out. This is not to fully blame First Niagara, we have pretty poor local leadership that doesn’t try to make our high-density areas worth investing in. Fist Niagara is just a new example to an old story.

Literally two days later, it was announced that First Niagara was moving its HQ to the Larkin at Exchange complex in South Buffalo. All of the bank’s top management is moving. The Niagara County location will not technically lose any jobs, but will instead switch places with Buffalo to become the new back-office operation. Buffalo will gain 300 jobs, funded in part by you.

This being western New York, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) sweetened the deal for First Niagara, giving it a $1.3 million grant to make the move to Buffalo.

Predictably and understandably, Niagara County is pissed. Niagara County is losing a HQ and the highest earners at that bank. Niagara County loses a bank headquarters. Niagara County also happens to pay taxes to the state, which in turn funds the ESDC. Niagara County’s own money, therefore, was used against it, funding 300 new jobs, none of which will go to the existing Niagara County headquarters.

And what of the LCo building? It’s not “footsteps from HSBC, M&T, Bank of America, and Key Bank”. One of the LCo’s selling points is the fact that it runs a diesel London cab to and from the downtown core for the convenience of its tenants.

There’s no downtown density at the LCo building. It’s not in the downtown core or central business district. It’s an island of adaptive reuse surrounded by ample parking, much of it at-grade. There’s also handy access to and from the I-190 northbound at Smith and Hamburg Streets. It’s completely isolated from the surrounding neighborhoods; its employees, for the most part, drive in and drive out. They shop at the on-site stores, use the on-site dry cleaner, and also enjoy an on-site commissary (featuring Starbucks coffee!).

Seriously, from an urban planning/urban density perspective, this is not at all different from locating it in a nondescript office park in Williamsville. Or, say, Pendleton.

The ESDC shouldn’t be spending money shuffling jobs around the WNY chessboard. How is WNY made better if Erie County poaches high-paying jobs from Niagara County? The state should be poaching jobs from Toledo or Des Moines. It should be looking at other chessboards altogether.

While everyone in Buffalo and Erie County pats themselves on the back for bringing the old Lockport Savings Bank to the LCo, realize that this comes at a cost for our WNY neighbor to the north. How that’s fair and neato-nifty is beyond me. It seems like a pyrrhic victory, and Niagara County has a right to be pissed, Yahoo! notwithstanding.

This is, pathetically, what counts for economic development in Western New York, I guess.

At least there’s ample, free parking.

Pam & Jim Get Married, eh?

25 Sep

The local tourism folks and the Niagara Falls people have been all atwitter about the fact that Pam Beesly and Jim Halpert – two fictional characters from TV’s The Office – are getting married in Niagara Falls, NY.

The team never once considered the Canadian side of the Falls, Berti said. “It never even crossed their minds.”

The funny thing is that they have a phony wedding website up, and it has a “things to do in the area” section.

With the exception of the Maid of the Mist, which is binational, every single “thing to do” is located on the Ontario side.  Waterpark, butterfly conservatory, Bird Kingdom, Casino Niagara, Floral Clock, Lundy’s Lane Historical Museum – like I said, everything’s on the Canadian side.

Except for one.  Dave & Busters.  They listed Dave & Busters – a Chuck E Cheese’s for adults.  There’s only one in the Niagara Falls “area”.  It’s at the Eastern Hills Mall in Clarence.

I’d say that the people in charge of Niagara Falls, NY tourism should take this all as a lesson.  They got a boon – a popular TV show sets a big event in town, but there’s nothing “to do” in the area.  Not even the hot-weather ice rink made the cut. But a Clarence restaurant did.

Sam Hoyt on High Speed Rail Part II

10 Mar

We can watch this in the wake of the Governor’s announcement yesterday of a $10.2 billion high speed rail plan for the state of New York, stretching from Niagara Falls, through Buffalo, and out to Albany, from where it will then branch out to Montreal, New York City, and Boston.

I don’t think this is a silver bullet that will suddenly transform upstate New York into a new boom area. If anything might do that, it will be our supply of fresh water. What HSR may do, however, is let people have an alternative method of intercity transportation that is faster than driving, and more convenient than flying. I thought that Roaring Republican here had a couple of good ideas. There is a travelers’ sweet spot there, and with the right system built right, we could very well hit it.

As long as we consider it in those terms, rather than as some silver bullet, the less we risk it being our version of the Simpsons’ monorail, and Buffalo becoming North Haverbrook.


Ryanair set for £8 flights to US

2 Nov

According to the BBC. Ryanair (website here) flies generally not into the airports closest to the listed destination, but to underutilized airports that are a bit more remote. Which means “Toronto”, if it makes the cut, may very well be served by the Niagara Falls International Airport.

A $15 airfare to Europe (+taxes and fees) sounds just about right to me.

Buffalo Niagara Product Placement

12 Oct

Certainly travelers from Canada come in their thousands across the border to see our scenic shopping malls and Target plazas, buy some tchotchkes and get the hell out of dodge. It would, indeed, be beyond intelligent and one of those oh-gee-why-haven’t-we-been-doing-this-for-decades kind of ideas to put a visitor’s center in the Walden Galleria to encourage shoppers to actually check out some of the other attractions we have – even shopping-related ones. Just like a day-tripper to Toronto may bypass Queen West for the Yorkdale Mall, many Canadians bypass East Aurora for Target.

It is very nice of Macy’s to offer to set up and run a satellite CVB office in the Walden Galleria, but in the customer service section? The place where you go to make returns, go to the bathroom, or pay your Macy’s credit card?

The CVB has a budget, and the mall has kiosks. It would seem to me to be a better idea to put a visitor’s kiosk somewhere on the first floor in a relatively visible spot – much like the new Dippin’ Dots stand. That way, you’re guaranteed foot traffic.

So, it’s all very nice but could probably be exponentially more effective.

Russert International Airport

18 Jun

I was waiting for someone to catch it. Sign the petition, anyway.