Hertel Avenue - Table of Contents
Later History - Hertel Avenue
Buffalo, New York
Ristorante Lombardo ... Mighty Taco ... Mastman's Kosher Deli ... John E. Roberts Funeral Home ... Conley Interiors ... Dana Tillou Fine Arts ... Lloyd Taco Factory ... Jimmie’s Shoe Repair ... Bob & John's La Hacienda ... Kostas Restaurant ... Mulligan's ... Checker's Athletic Club ... Parker Pharmacy
History of Ristorante Lombardo
1198 Hertel Avenue
Owners: Thomas J. Jr. & Donna Lombardo
In the spring of 1975, at the age of 21, Thomas J. Lombardo Jr. opened the doors of what was then known simply as Lombardo’s with his Father Thomas J. Lombardo Sr.
Tom Jr. and his father, quickly established the restaurant as a local watering hole and a place for great Italian-American fare that featured well known, albeit ubiquitous, dishes such as stuffed shells and meatballs.
Starting in the 90’s, Tom Jr. and his wife Donna began what would become a lifetime of regular trips to Italy, finding inspiration that has spurred the evolution of Ristorante Lombardo into the restaurant you see today.
1247 Hertel Avenue
Oct. 2018 photo- same site
The 1970s also gave rise to what is likely Hertel’s greatest contribution to Buffalo’s pop culture DNA. Accounts differ of the exact details, but most stories involve a bottle of tequila, a few Vietnam vets and a hankering for the tacos they’d grown up with in Chicago. Four guys scraped together $6,000, and “The Mighty Taco” was born at 1247 Hertel Ave. in 1973.
At first, Buffalo didn’t know what a taco was.
“We’d have old North Buffalo Italian ladies come in and ask what they were,” co-founder Andy Gerovac told The News in 1997. “We’d tell them they were Mexican sandwiches and they’d say ‘Thank you,’ and leave.”
It was with the late-night college student crowd that those “Mexican sandwiches” first caught on, and by the end of the ’70s, Mighty Taco had four locations.
The original Mighty Taco location moved off Hertel to nearby Delaware in 1994. But, just as we remember the Anchor Bar’s Main and North location as the first place chicken wings, hot sauce and butter were mixed, we should remember the original Mighty Taco storefront on Hertel near Commonwealth.
For all that’s new and exciting there, it’s pretty much the same place, though some changes do jump out.
- Steve Cichon, Buffalo Stories, January 23, 2016 (online October 2018)
"The North Park [Theatre] hung on long enough to become an anachronism worth saving, but that wasn’t the case at the home of Hertel’s other famous neon sign. When Jack Shapiro served his last pastrami on rye with a side of gruff and slightly agitated at his beloved Mastman’s in 2005, an era ended as the city’s last kosher deli closed. It followed a handful of other institutions that had been a part of the vibrant Jewish community on Hertel.
"When Shapiro bought Mastman’s in the late 1970s, the matzo ball competition with other delis — like the vaunted Ralph’s — was fierce. Go back to when Max Mastman opened his door at Hertel and Colvin in 1945, and there was even more competition — even from the family of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, which owned Blitzer’s Delicatessen in the storefront that later became Ralph’s. - Steve Cichon, Buffalo Stories, January 23, 2016 (online October 2018) Does not include 2018 photo.
See also: Forgotten Buffalo: MASTMAN'S KOSHER DELI (Online Oct. 2018)
See also: "Magic Buffalo" mural
1361 Hertel Avenue
The John E. Roberts Funeral Home was established in 1932 by Thomas Roberts and his son John E. Roberts, Sr. in the Old First Ward.
Thomas owned a livery service that provided horse-drawn hearses to funeral directors. He was the first in Western New York to own and operate motorized hearses, an idea that was not immediately accepted.
The business later moved to Elmwood Avenue, and in 1955, John Roberts formed a partnership with Raymond Potts at the 762 Elmwood Avenue and the 1357-1361 Hertel Avenue locations. The partnership lasted until Mr. Potts retired in 1964. John's wife Mary, was also active in the John E. Roberts business and in 1949 became one of the first women in the state to become a licensed funeral director.
1425 Hertel Avenue
I have found Buffalo Rising's website online and wanted to offer a quick insight into my time in Buffalo this past week while on business. I came across a true New York City type of business that I cant stop thinking about. Conley Interiors.
I am an interior designer in New York City [Theresa A. Gibbons, President, Salisbury & Manus Interiors] and was blown away by the offering they represent. No one in NYC even comes close to the vast inventory and level of quality they are showcasing. Beyond Amazing. And blown away that they have been in business in the same location since 1925!! Unheard of, given the current economic environment in the Home furnishing industry. I would assume they are the oldest retailer in Buffalo?????
I highly recommend stopping by Conley Interiors if you are not aware of the business. I met Jim Furman—unbelievably pleasant and knowledgeable. It is worth a write up because it gives tremendous validation that Buffalo is not down and out, but alive and bound for something GREAT. They should be highlighted as a jewel in the crown of Buffalo’s cutting edge style!
- Buffalo Rising, Conley Interiors raises some eyebrows Nov. 22, 2013 (online Oct. 2018)
History of Dana Tillou Fine Arts
1478 Hertel Avenue
"After 50 years conducting his business in Allentown [417 Franklin Street.], Buffalo antiques and fine art empresario Dana Tillou has sold his building and relocated to Hertel Avenue. The longstanding antiques/art dealer, specializing in American and British art c.1800-1940 and period antiques, is downsizing on the antiques, and concentrating more on original works of art. Tillou has officially made a move into the former CooCooU storefront at 1478 Hertel Avenue." - Queenseyes, Buffalo Rising, June 24, 2016 (online Oct. 2018)
Photo courtesy of Buffalo Rising
Lloyd has been an institution in Buffalo since 2010, when Peter Cimino and Chris Dorsaneo – who attended Kenmore West High School together – started the Mexican street food concept. Graduating from Canisius College with a degree in Math, Pete began his career teaching at South Park High School, opening several small businesses on the side. While Chris had the food side of lloyd locked down thanks to his extensive culinary experience, Pete focused on the Marketing & Social side.
Theirs was the first food truck in Buffalo beginning in July 2010. By 2015, they had four trucks.
Their Hertel Avenue restaurant opened in December 2015. The $250,000 prize that Lloyd won on CNBC’s “Restaurant Startup” program was later rejected.
Churn soft-serve ice cream shop opened next door in the spring 2017. Churn produces its own ice cream.
A second restaurant opened in in November of 2017 at 5933 Main Street in Williamsville.
[Masa: dough made from corn flour and used to make tortillas, tamales, etc.]
Jimmie’s real name is Joseph Bavisotto, as was his owner/father’s before him. The elder Joseph bought the business from the original Jimmie at 1516 Hertel, and moved it to its present location in 1959, never changing the name. Joseph says he’s been answering to “Jimmie” ever since.
History of Bob & John's La Hacienda
1545 Hertel Avenue
Jim Hazelet opened Bob & John’s Northtowns location in 1995 when he leased a neighborhood pizzeria at 2071 Kensington Ave. in 1995.
The Hazelet family has owned Bob & John’s since 1972, but the restaurant has been on Hertel Avenue going back to the late 1950s. It is believed to be the oldest restaurant on Hertel Avenue.
Tom Hazelet runs his family-owned restaurant. Besides Bob & John’s, he also owns the Wellington Pub next door.
The building was built in 1926.
History of Kostas Restaurant
1561 Hertel Avenue
Owners Kosta and Elia Pozantidis came to Buffalo from Greece in the 1970’s. Elia started as an 11-year-old dishwasher in one of the Bechakas family’s Lucky’s restaurants, which then had a location on Hertel Avenue.
Elia and his brother Kosta struck out with Hertel Avenue’s Kostas in 1977 when Elia was just 17. Their younger, American-born brother Alex owns Zoe in East Amherst.
27-year-old Yianni Pozantidis runs the kitchen and does the ordering. He started working at the restaurant at 7 years old, toasting 250 slices of bread every 30 minutes during the busiest hours.
"Along Hertel in the 1970s, one place in particular had that feel, and that place was was where the powerful and elite went to have a good time: Mulligan’s. Mulligan’s was the regular night-out home of Buffalo’s great stars, such as OJ Simpson, and Buffalo’s great visitors, such as Cher.
"Mulligan’s was even the scene of an underworld execution: Career burglar Frank D’Angelo was ambushed and shot dead leaving Mulligan’s on Oct. 5, 1974. It’s long been assumed he was killed after not offering mob bosses their expected portion of the profits after a big jewelry heist." - Steve Cichon, Buffalo Stories, January 23, 2016 (online October 2018)
See also: “No Dress Rehearsal. This Is Our Life” mural
1854 Hertel Avenue
Checkers Athletic Club, located In Buffalo, New York is an area running club dedicated to helping runners of all skill levels.
In November 1974, Joe Jordan, owner of Checkers Tavern at 1854 Hertel Avenue, entered Matt Hellerer in the Cole's race, which he won. The following year a team was entered in the Cole's race and the Checkers Athletic Club was founded.
Because of Matt Hellerer and the close proximity of Checkers Tavern to St. Joe's High School, the club was able to get most of the ex-St. Joe's runners.
At the 1976 Blossom Festival held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the club was represented by most of the Syracuse University team.
In July 1977, Checkers decided to hold a 24 hour mile relay to raise money for the Special Olympics.
Team success was not limited to the men. Early Checkers women's teams established Checkers as the area's best female team.
Canadian members also contributed to Checkers successes.
While road racing success has brought the greatest acclaim to the club, not all the members are speedsters. In fact, Checkers A.C. prides itself on being a social and athletic club, and has attracted runners of all skill levels. That is because Checkers A.C. offers several avenues of participation for runners and their family and friends, as well as nonrunners. These include monthly social events, race sponsorship, team competition and club training sessions.
"On the corner of Hertel and Parker, an entirely different business operates today, but the feeling is the same as it ever was. In the ’50s and ’60s, friends and neighbors gathered at the old Parker Pharmacy for a phosphate or an ice cream sundae. Today, people gather in the same building at what might be this decade’s version of the soda fountain: a coffee shop. It’s the same fellowship and conversation — we’ve just switched out the soda jerk for the barista and the 5-cent pop for a $5 latte." - Steve Cichon, Buffalo Stories, January 23, 2016 (online October 2018)
See also: "Daily Planet Mural"