Local Chef Brings Fine Dining Destination to Grand Island

Caprese SaladHave an anniversary, birthday or another special occasion coming up? Thanks to local chef and Grand Island resident Sam Reda, you’ll be able to celebrate at a new fine dining restaurant located at 1879 Whitehaven Road in the former home of Baked Cupcakery.

It’s called Zobud Bistro, and it offers a mouth-watering selection of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine in a cozy, welcoming environment.

According to Zobud Bistro’s website, the restaurant’s meals “capture the freshness of the sea with the savory flavor of the island presented with a unique progressive American flair.”

Zobud just held its soft opening last week, but it’s already generating quite a buzz in Western New York’s restaurant scene, and with good reason. Sam Reda has been the head chef at several popular restaurants over the years, including Biac’s World Bistro, Brownstone Bistro and the Buffalo Chophouse. Now, he’s excited to open his own restaurant just a few minutes from his home on Grand Island. Zobud Bistro’s name was inspired by his mother-in-law’s nickname for his daughter, Zoe.

“They were extremely close and Teddie passed away this year,” explained Reda in a recent interview with The Buffalo News. He named the restaurant as “a sort of tribute to their relationship.”

The menu at Zobud Bistro includes a variety of classic brunch fare such as eggs benedict and French toast, as well as larger dinner entrées like seafood paella and chicken Milanese. You can check out the complete menu here.

To learn more about everything that’s going on around our community on Grand Island, stay tuned for the latest updates from the Town Hall Terrace blog!

Redesign Will Transform Buffalo Skyway Into an Elevated Park

Buffalo SkywayFollowing a competition that received more than 100 submissions from design firms all over the world, a jury convened by Governor Andrew Cuomo has selected an ambitious plan to turn the Buffalo Skyway into an eye-catching tourist destination with elevated parks, retail space, pedestrian walkways and more.

Known as City of Lights, the winning plan calls for removing the ramps on either side of the Skyway and turning the remaining bridge deck into “Skyway Park.”

Visitors will be able to access Skyway Park via two vertical structures at Canalside and the Outer Harbor. The structure at Canalside consists of an undulating steel and glass tower with elevators, stairwells, a vertical art gallery and winter garden. At the top of the tower, which extends above the bridge deck, spectators will be able to enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Erie and the surrounding cityscape.

Meanwhile, at the Outer Harbor, a new group of stylized glass silos will be constructed to provide access to the south end of the park. These silos will become a year-round mixed-use destination with a food bazaar, performance space, a hotel and more. The silos will be topped with a green roof and observation deck with outdoor dining areas.

Along the length of the bridge deck, visitors will find designated pedestrian and bicycle paths, shade structures, plantings, furniture and interpretive signage that offers information about the Buffalo Niagara Region. Removal of the rest of the Skyway will also open 12 new acres for development in downtown Buffalo and Canalside.

“This is creating an entire new downtown space,” said Governor Cuomo during the announcement. “It’s a blank sheet of paper.”

Cuomo pledged $10 million to expedite the environmental study for the project, and said that the state would commit to funding 20 percent of the estimated $600 million project. If enough federal funding can be secured to help cover the remaining costs, infrastructure work on the project could be completed within the next five years.

To learn more about the project, including the plan to reroute commuter traffic from the Southtowns, you can view the complete proposal here.

The 10th Annual Buffalo Beer Week Starts Today

Beer FlightJust about ready to crack open a cold one and enjoy the weekend? This week, beer lovers in our area will have a chance to sample a huge selection of craft beverages from breweries located throughout Western New York.

Today marks the first day of Buffalo Beer Week – a 10-day celebration of the city’s vibrant brewing scene.

Since the inaugural Buffalo Beer Week was celebrated in 2010, the number of breweries in Western New York has grown from just three to 38. These days, you don’t have to look far to find great beer from one of Buffalo’s many locally-owned-and-operated breweries.

“The gamut of beers is all over the place,” said Dan Syracuse, a Buffalo Beer Week Organizer and owner of Pizza Plant in an interview with the Buffalo News. “You can get a simple pilsner, and you can get a strawberry-banana milkshake IPA all the way on to the other end of the scale…”

For many local business owners, this event is about more than just beer; it’s about celebrating the unique spirit of community and camaraderie that exists among Buffalo’s breweries as well.

The Buffalo Beer Week Opening Gala begins this afternoon at 5 p.m. at Flying Bison Brewing on Seneca Street. Other notable Beer Week events include the Buffalo Brewers Symposium on Tuesday at the Buffalo Cider Hall and the Ballpark Brew Bash at Sahlen Field on next Saturday.

You can find a complete list of the featured events at this year’s Buffalo Beer Week on this page.

New App Allows Grand Island Parents to Track School Buses

Back to SchoolSchool is back in session in the Grand Island Central School District, but this year local parents have access to a handy new tool that makes it easier for them to make sure their kids get to and from school safely each day.

Starting this week, parents can download a free app called My Stop that allows them to track their children’s bus routes from a computer or smartphone.

The My Stop app works in conjunction with the GPS tracking devices installed on every school bus in the Grand Island Central School District. Using the app, parents can monitor the progress of their children’s bus in real time and view the estimated time of arrival at their bus stop. In the event of a delay in a bus’s arrival, the app will also provide parents with details explaining the cause of the delay.

“We’re taking safety and putting it in the palms of parents hands,” said Grand Island Central School District Transportation Supervisor Theresa Alizadeh in a recent interview. “Parents want to know where their students are.”

My Stop can be accessed by both students and parents using a unique Student ID that serves as a user name. Currently, the app is only available for morning and afternoon school bus routes – not for field trips, activity buses and other non-public school routes.

Although this is the first year My Stop is being used on Grand Island, it’s already been successfully deployed in several other school districts around Western New York. Parents interested in learning more about how to get the most out of My Stop can visit the school district’s web page here.

Labor Day Weekend in Western New York Has Plenty to Offer

Fort Niagara BarracksThere will be no shortage of events and activities for Western New Yorkers to enjoy on this Labor Day weekend. In fact, with so many things going on in our area, it can be hard to decide what to do with your long weekend! That’s why we’ve put together a short list of a few of our favorite Labor Day events to enjoy around our community at Town Hall Terrace.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Fest

It wouldn’t be Labor Day in Buffalo without the National Wing Festival! The festival returns to Sahlen Field for it’s 18th year this weekend, offering a stunning variety of chicken wing options from both local restaurants and others from all around the country. This year, ranch dressing will be available at the festival for the first time in its history!

Hop Harvest Festival

Beer lovers can celebrate our region’s rich brewing history at the Hop Harvest Festival in Mumford, New York. Located at the Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCV&M), this festival gives attendees the opportunity to see how hops are grown, harvested and brewed into some of our favorite beverages. You can even sample one of GCV&M’s signature ales while you’re there!

War of 1812 Reenactment at Old Fort Niagara

For more local history, consider visiting Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown! This weekend, the 300-year-old historic landmark will transform into an authentic encampment from the War of 1812.

According to Robert Emerson, Executive Director of the Old Fort Niagara Association, “The upcoming encampment shows and tells the story of the surrender of the fort to the British, which was the last time Fort Niagara was engaged in military conflict on our Turf.”

Activities at the encampment will include battle reenactments , children’s games, military music performances and more!

For even more great Labor Day weekend ideas, check out this list from Step Out Buffalo!

The Grand Island Bridge Will Become a Movie Set This Weekend

Grand Island BridgeThis summer, film crews have transformed several communities in Western New York into the backdrop for a new movie from writer, director and actor John Krasinski. For more than a month, A Quiet Place 2 – the sequel to last year’s highly-successful thriller – has been shooting scenes in Akron, Olcott and several other locations throughout the region.

This weekend, Grand Island will become the latest place to make an appearance in the film.

From midnight to 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 25, the northbound lane of the South Grand Island bridge will be closed for Krasinski and the rest of the crew from Paramount Pictures. Drivers can expect to encounter significant delays during this period, as northbound traffic will be diverted to a single lane on the southbound bridge. Meanwhile, New York State Police will be performing periodic traffic slowdowns and stoppages during the filming as well.

Near the end of the bridge, onlookers may be able to catch glimpses of the cast and crew on Sunday morning. Even if you’re not able to get a good look at the filming process, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to spot the Grand Island Bridge when the movie is released on March 20, 2020.

In addition to borrowing from the scenery of Western New York, the filming of A Quiet Place 2 is expected to inject a significant amount of capital into the regional economy as well. According to Empire State Development, the film will hire over 400 people and invest more than $10 million in our area.

If you miss this shoot, Paramount Pictures will be back in September to shoot more scenes at the Stenzil Street Baseball Field in North Tonawanda.

The Erie County Fair Starts This Week in Hamburg

County FairSummer fair season is in full swing here in Western New York! The Erie County Fair is set to kick off tomorrow, bringing 12 days of rides, entertainment, food and more to the Hamburg Fairgrounds. In addition to the usual lineup of attractions, the county fair will welcome several new entertainment options this year, including one ride that longtime residents of the area might remember from their childhood.

The Sky Wheel is a fan-favorite attraction that was a regular feature at the county fair from 1963 until 1994.

Now, after more than 20 years, this 80-foot-tall double Ferris wheel will return to the fair to entertain a whole new generation of guests.

“The double Ferris wheel is one of the most requested bygone attractions that fairgoers continually ask us to bring back,” said Erie County Fair Marketing Manager Marty Biniasz in a recent interview. “. . . It also has a deep Buffalo-Niagara connection as the Sky Wheel ride was once manufactured by the Allan Herschell Co.”

Other new attractions at the 2019 Erie County Fair include an interactive camel exhibit, a mind-reading show and an “extreme trampoline” performance where athletes will perform dazzling acrobatic feats at heights of 25 feet or more in the air. The fair will also offer several new food options this year, such as pierogi poutine and a loganberry funnel cake corn dog that both kids and adults will be sure to love.

Admission to the Erie County Fair costs $12 for adults and $9 for seniors (60+). Children aged 12 and under, meanwhile, can attend the fair for free! The fair opens at noon tomorrow and runs every day until August 18.

Visit the Newly-Restored Darwin Martin Complex This Summer

Frank Lloyd WrightHere in Western New York, we’re lucky to have a few stunning examples of the work of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright right in our backyard. Until recently, however, the most notable of these structures had fallen into disrepair.

Originally constructed between 1903 and 1905, the Darwin Martin Complex is a sprawling estate that consists of a single-family home, a carriage house, glass-roofed conservatory and several other smaller structures connected by a covered walkway. Although the estate became well recognized as a shining example of some of Wright’s best work, years of neglect had taken a serious toll on the property by the early 1990s.

In 1992, the Martin House Restoration Corp. acquired the Darwin Martin Complex from the University at Buffalo and set out to restore the property to its former glory.

Now, after more than 20 years and $50 million in both public and private investments, work on the historic Darwin Martin Complex is finally complete. In addition to completely renovating the home’s interior, HHL Architects also reconstructed three buildings on the property that had been torn down during the 1960s. The final phase of the restoration effort, which involved renovating the property’s Wright-designed landscaping, was completed this month.

If you’ve never had a chance to tour the Darwin Martin Complex in the past, now is the perfect time to visit this beautiful historic property in the heart of Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood. You can choose from several different tour options, including landscape tours, twilight tours and more. View the complete list of tour descriptions here!

The Grand Island Farmers Market Has a New Home

Farmers MarketLooking for some fresh produce to enjoy at your next summer get-together? You’re in luck! Starting this afternoon, you can find the Grand Island Farmers Market every Thursday at the Western New York Welcome Center on Alvin Road. This year, the farmers market is collaborating with the welcome center’s Taste NY Store to offer a variety of locally-grown fruits and vegetables, prepared foods and artisan products to shoppers from throughout the region.

You can even enjoy live music performances while you browse the many fresh food options at the farmers market!

“Taste NY was launched to create opportunities for farmers and local producers to showcase their goods at retail locations,” said Taste NY manager Renee Day in a recent interview. “The farmers market at the Western NY Welcome Center provides us with a new outdoor venue to achieve this goal.”

With the help of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, the farmers market will also host a variety of activities that focus on agricultural education. If you’re not sure how to prepare some of the food you find at the farmers market, local experts will be available to answer questions and offer suggestions! Meanwhile, children and families can enjoy spending time in the nearby playground, dog park and picnic area as well.

The Grand Island Farmers Market will be at the Western New York Welcome Center every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. from now until October 10. Be sure to check it out so you can get a taste of everything our local farms have to offer!

The Allentown Art Festival Returns for Its 62nd Year

Street FestivalWith temperatures creeping into the 70s and the annual Allentown Art Festival about to begin, it’s finally starting to feel like summer in Western New York. What began as a small gathering of local artists over 60 years ago has become one of the most popular events of the season, with more than 350 vendors lining the sidewalks of Delaware Avenue, Franklin and Allen in Buffalo’s historic Allentown neighborhood.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on this Saturday and Sunday.

Among the many vendors at the festival, you can expect to find photographers, painters, sculptors, glass blowers and more. You can also enjoy performances from local musicians and sample festival food favorites such as fried dough, lemon ice, kettle corn, spiced nuts and cotton candy. With so many guests from all over the region in attendance, people watching at the festival can be an event in itself, too.

Meanwhile, west of Elmwood Avenue, a smaller alternative festival called Allen West will be happening right down the street from the main festival area as well. This mini festival tends to attract more buskers and local artists than its more well-established older sibling.

You can easily spend an entire day exploring the Allentown Art Festival, but be sure to bring your sunscreen! The forecast is calling for sunny skies and warm weather all weekend. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the festival or this is your first time attending, you can always find new things to see and do each year.

Best of all, this is just the beginning of a long season of fun summer activities in Western New York!