Center Street projects moving along, part II
By Joshua Maloni
Center Street construction projects were delayed last spring by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent “New York State on PAUSE” executive orders. As summer approached and some restrictions were lifted, people expected to see a rush of activity on the village’s main thoroughfare.
However, domestic travel and border-crossing restrictions – not to mention people at home with more time on their hands, eager to renovate – made it more difficult to obtain building materials. There also was the issue of unemployment and how readily available laborers were to resume work.
As such, a lot of activity has taken place behind the scenes in recent weeks – not necessarily in big, showy places or ways for the public to take notice.
In part two of this series, we continue to look at where some of the largest construction projects stand:
442-444 Center St. (Future Home of Brewed and Bottled, Sgt. Peppers, Mad Hatter)
A trio of Lewiston’s most popular small businesses will move from the corner of Center and North Fourth streets (future site of “Gallo 3”) to the rebuilt structure at 442-444 Center St., next door to the Frontier House.
Brewed and Bottled Craft Beer Shop will reopen with the added amenity of a beer garden, while Sgt. Peppers Hot Sauces plans to expand its offerings (think: bacon), and Mad Hatter Tea House will partner products with paintings.
•Brewed and Bottled
“I just ask people hang in there,” Brewed and Bottled owner Chris Budde said. His craft beer shop has been closed since January. The former spot was a hit both with residents and beverage connoisseurs from all over Western New York. “I appreciate all the support and all the continued messages. It’s very easy to forget about a place, especially when it’s been closed for so long. But the fact that we’ve made that much of an impression, and we’ve given people somewhere to hang out, that they’re really comfortable with, means the world to us.”
Certainly, he expected to be reopen by the fall, but, “COVID slowed everything right down, including how many people you could have working on the building and whatnot,” Budde said. “So, as of now, the owner of the building, Al Bax, he’s in lead of most of the construction that’s happening. We’re lining up plumbers for our space, so we can start getting plumbing put into the floor for our certain needs behind the bar and with water and plumbing drainage.
“I would say, we’re in a position where things will start moving faster, but it’s just all about, I guess right now, what’s available for the workers to get, and how many people can be on site.”
He added, “We’re still kind of rough electric, rough plumbing, and like studs. But I do know that shortly – soon enough – it’s going to pick up pace and we’ll start moving along.
“They’re making great progress, though, for what they have to work with and what they’re allowed to do there, in terms of regulations for COVID.”
Prior to shutting down, Brewed and Bottled was “averaging about 25 to 30 brand-new releases a week,” Budde said. “Those are beers that are either seasonal, but mostly beers that are limited release that you might not see in a long time or have never been able to get before.”
Releases will return when the store reopens. In addition, a “beer garden will actually be off Center (behind the building), which it’s kind of a very unique situation,” Budde said. “We’re going to have a partial view of the Frontier House; and I think when that gets restored it’s going to be beautiful and very unique for us. We can see across to the mural that’s over in the Council of the Arts. That’s on the side of the building back there.
“It’s going to be, I’d say, a little more private in the back, and sort of like a little oasis on Center Street – a little more unique than what we had before.
“You’ll come into the building; there’s going to be a shared foyer as you enter, which will lead upstairs and also into our shop. And we plan on having the front area of our store be bar area and retail with some seating. And then you actually have to go up a ramp, about a foot-and-a-half higher to the back area, which will have additional seating and access to the beer garden.”
Budde said he hopes to partner with local eateries.
“We’ve always had to have a food item,” he said. “People never had to eat to drink. But we’ve been talking to a couple places locally, within the Greater Niagara Region, about how can we offer items that are on their menus, that they can highlight at our business.
“I don’t want to give too much away yet, because we’re still developing it. But we’re trying to do more collaborations with food. And, of course, Neil, my father-in-law, and Sgt. Peppers. We’re going to try to work a way into serving some of his items.”
While it’s been a challenge to be without his metaphorical baby, Budde has enjoyed spending time with his actual offspring.
“For the last seven months, we’ve got our kid at home – Jack – he just turned 1 year in September. I’ve been lucky enough to be home with him throughout probably six months of this, and able to watch him,” Budde said. “So, even though I haven’t had the shop, and I haven’t been working, I’ve had a lot of work to do at home with him.
“It’s been very rewarding to me. And it’s actually a really unique situation that not many people get to spend time with their kid within the first year as much as I have, which is awesome. So, in a way, it’s sort of, kind of a blessing in disguise, making memories that I’ll never forget, and I’m getting to share all of his milestones with him as he makes them.”
Like many business owners and event planners, Neil Garfinkel used the COVID-19 “PAUSE” to rethink his business. When New York state eased restrictions, he took portions of the Sgt. Peppers show on the road.
“All summer, we were at Academy Park. Every Saturday. And that was very successful, because I think people wanted to be outdoors – they like to shop outdoors where they’re not afraid of COVID out there as much. So, it was super. We’re going to continue that,” Garfinkel said.
He found success as a mobile merchant at the market, and plans to continue selling foodstuffs in a similar fashion this fall.
Sgt. Peppers’ products will be available for purchase from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Wilson Grand Bazaar, 431 Lake St. At the same time the following Saturday, Garfinkel will be at 1437 Ridge Road (brown building next to Hill-Vue Café). He will then alternate locations until Christmas.
Garfinkel said he’s looking forward to again having a permanent spot in the Village of Lewiston.
“COVID has just, I mean, construction is way backed up,” he said. “… Our heater’s in; our plumbing looks like it’s mostly in. Some of the electrical is done. The outside of the building is almost complete, but I don’t have a store yet.”
That said, “The location is fantastic,” Garfinkel said. “It’s a little bit more central in the village. We’re going to have the Frontier House next door, which, when they finish that … hopefully it’s a hotel. Boy, that’ll be fantastic. I’m going to be the first store they see, because I’m going to be sideways facing that parking lot, and they’ll see me. …
“And we’re going to have Brewed and Bottled – I mean, we’re always collectively doing well together. His customers come in and they buy cheese and stuff like that, and snacks, and they eat out on the patio. We share a lot of customers.”
Though Garfinkel has found success with his sauces, at “Sgt. Peppers, we’re going to start doing a lot more different things – like bacon,” he said. “We sell a ton of gourmet bacon at the market. So, we’re going to change it up a little bit. We’re going to do more bacon and cheese. We’re going to continue with all the hot sauce, but we’re going to include the bacon and the cheese.
“We have about 10 flavors of bacon and some smoked sausages that we get from the Adirondacks. It’s going to be a little different, because it all went over well at the market. So, we’re going to continue with that.”
“We’re gonna have snacks; you know, we’ll have cheese and chips and all different things,” Garfinkel added. “It’s not the stuff you can get at the grocery store, but we’ll have snacks, too.”
Also rejoining the team at the new site is Barbara Gray, who already was a tenant at this particular location before it underwent reconstruction.
“I will be opening soon,” Gray said. “The space will reopen as a combination of The Mad Hatter Tea House and Shawn’s Gate Art Studio. I will be offering bulk tea along with boxed sets of tea and wares. Shawn’s Gate will continue to offer art classes.
“I don’t have a date yet, but things are coming along nicely and the building is beautiful.”
Gray formerly offered a pescatarian menu to complement her high-quality teas.
442-444 Center is being developed by attorney and Town of Lewiston Councilman Alfonso Marra Bax. NFP reached out to him for comment, but to no avail.