Re:think Buffalo: Alex Heringer

Alex Heringer is a living example of the American Dream fulfilled.

Born in the former Soviet Union, Alex eventually ended up in his family’s home country of Germany around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a teen, Alex became a professional soccer player in Germany.

One day at a bus stop in Germany, Alex spotted a girl in the crowd who stood out. That girl, Rose, also noticed Alex. She was from Western New York and spoke English. Thankfully, her companion, who spoke German, recognized Alex as a famous soccer player and managed to introduce them to one another.

Fast forward six months—destiny had it that they’d meet again—at a bus stop, no less—and from there, love blossomed.

They went on their first date to play pool because, as Alex would tell it, “you don’t have to talk much when you play pool.” There was a connection. They kissed. They stayed out late that night, ‘til 3:30am, and she had to go to the airport at 4am to catch her plane back to the States.

Alex worked hard to learn English, using lots of phone cards to call his Buffalo-area girlfriend for long, long talks. Eventually, he would visit her in the States for weeks at a time and vice versa. So much in love, he and Rose decided to marry and, even better, to call Buffalo home.

Besides playing soccer, Alex was passionate about helping people with insurance and wealth/portfolio management. So he enrolled in college in the Buffalo area, taking just 22 months to earn his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Then, he continued his studies in the Niagara University MBA Program, where he graduated with honors in 16 months. How’s that for German efficiency?

While still carrying more than a full schedule in graduate school, Alex joined Planned Futures Financial Group in Williamsville where he completed his investment and insurance licensing. He got the job because Rose’s dad was friends with Jim Ginnane, one of the owners of Planned Futures. Jim wasn’t planning on hiring anyone, but after meeting Alex and seeing his star potential, he couldn’t pass up the chance to work with and mentor such an ambitious young man.

Today, Alex and his wife live, work, and play in the Buffalo area, and they’re very much “pro-Buffalo.” Alex will tell you how passionate he is to call Buffalo home, how it’s an up-and-coming city in America, and how everything he wants and needs is so conveniently available locally. “And when the weather’s bad in the winter,” he smiles, “we can always take a cheap flight to Florida.” True!

At this time, Alex’s work with Planned Futures Financial Group involves a focus on providing personal and business financial planning for physicians, other medical professionals and professional athletes. His fluency in German, Russian and English makes him unique among area business people.

He still plays recreational soccer. He also volunteers his time for the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, serving on its board.

Alex remembers living in the old Soviet Union, where people were limited in what they could achieve. Here in Buffalo, NY, USA, Alex loves his American wife, his lucrative American job, his friends and family, sports and coffee. As a Christian, he’ll readily mention how he considers himself so “blessed” every single day of his life.

Alex Heringer is unabashedly pro-Buffalo. The next time you think “Buffalo’s dying and all the good ones have left,” remember this article. There are a lot more young, driven, nice people like Alex calling Buffalo home and spreading the word to people in other places about how beautiful Buffalo truly is. –Mark Weber

Advertisements

Larkin Square Buffalo

Larkin Square Buffalo is the place to be for lunch, dinner, or just loungin’ around… This area used to be a ghost town. Now it’s full of life. People come from near and far to visit. Whether you like music concerts, pickleball, food trucks or other fun things, Larkin Square Buffalo is Buffalo’s hottest/coolest place to be.

Mark Weber’s views of Downtown Buffalo, New York

I’ll tell you this: ever since I was born in the 1970s, Buffalo had been stagnant and/or declining. Hundreds of thousands of people left the city for dead. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Buffalo is tangibly on its way back-to-life in amazing ways. If you haven’t been to downtown Buffalo, here’s the news: it has changed a lot since the last time you were there, complete with new streetscapes, buildings, cranes and activity. While still “in development” at the present moment, it’s definitely becoming a hot spot for the whole region, as many older buildings, long vacant, are being rehabbed, refreshed and/or made new. Buffalo is a city in positive transition. The doom-and-gloom cloud that lingered over it for decades has gone away. Despite challenges, or perhaps because of them, Buffalo– including downtown Buffalo– is finally rising again! –Mark Weber

Buffalo’s coolest people

Buffalo, New York has many cool people, and some of them have been around so long that you already know they’re cool, like Jim Kelly. However, Buffalo has a lot of other less famous but equally compelling cool people who are unabashedly working to make the city and its metropolitan region a better place to live, work, play and stay. Here’s the first edition posting of Beautiful Buffalo’s list of cool Buffalo people; if you know of someone you think should be on this list, leave a comment with their name and what they’ve done/do to improve the City, and we’ll consider them.

Seamus on the mic at Larkin Square
Seamus on the mic at Larkin Square
Photo credit: Thom Davis

Seamus Gallivan
You’ve probably read his music reviews of concerts in the Buffalo News in the past. This thirtysomething guy is everywhere around Buffalo these days, doing positive things to help others as well as programming Larkin Square’s musical entertainment line-up. In his spare time, he promotes Buffalo with his website, The Good Neighborhood, showing us all what’s good locally.

Nick Battistella
Nick Battistella

Nick Battistella
Walk into a Wegmans some Friday night, or perhaps at an Italian food stand at the Erie County Fair, and you’re likely to hear a voice in the air that sounds so perfect you’ll assume it’s the radio. Wrong– it’s Sinatra & More crooner Nick Battistella. Dressed up in a sharp black tux, he commands an audience’s attention with his rich vocals on classics from Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Prima, Bobby Darin and more. He’s Buffalo’s best wedding singer– the kind of guy you want at your reception, singing classic love songs.

Anita Williams
Anita Williams

Anita Williams
If Mother Teresa was still living, she’d probably like to meet her Buffalo counterpart: Anita Williams. A Christian evangelist with the power to pray for you as if Jesus was physically present in the room with you, Anita has faithfully preached the Gospel on Buffalo’s East Side through her “God’s Ministry of Deliverance.” She’s well-known for her encouraging words on local radio like WUFO, as well as the annual event at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park each August called “Taking It To The Streets.” Because of Anita’s hard work and dedication to helping people in need, thousands of Buffalonians have received school supplies, canned goods, clothing, health care, and more through her efforts and the many wonderful volunteers she gathers to go out and do good things for the community.

Steve Cichon and his wife Monica
Steve Cichon and his wife Monica

Steve Cichon
Known for wearing a bow tie around town, Steve Cichon used to deliver local news on WBEN radio. He served as a producer, reporter, and news director in local media, until he ventured on his own with his latest creation, Buffalo Stories. With a humorous approach to life, as well as an insatiable heart for Buffalo and its history, Steve knows more about Buffalo trivia than you or I. He can tell you pop culture facts about Buffalo, and share numerous stories of the many characters who lived–and live–in our one-of-a-kind city. As the author of three books, including one about the venerable WKBW anchor, Irv Weinstein, Steve is an in-demand guest speaker to liven up otherwise dull events. Steve and his wife Monica live in a 1909 E.B. Green-designed home they’ve been renovating since 2000.

Newell Nussbaumer
Newell Nussbaumer

Newell Nussbaumer
Many people have said Newell Nussbaumer should run for Mayor of Buffalo. He has done more for the City than most people, politicians included. Through his popular website, BuffaloRising.com, Newell shines a light on many great things happening in the area, with an emphasis on the City, and its events, people, places and developments. His list of accomplishments is quite long– where do we even begin? He’s the co-founder of the Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts; Powder Keg Festival that built the world’s largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records); instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina; co-creator of the Flurrious! winter festival; co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer; instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside; founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market; instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside; catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center; and he also offers package tours of Buffalo for groups or individuals.  Maybe he should be Mayor?!

Dana Saylor
Dana Saylor

Dana Saylor
As a professional historical researcher, Dana Saylor likes discovering things about people and places. With an artistic bent, she’s also someone who enjoys sketching local buildings, and she has created sets of greeting cards for sale featuring watercolor paintings of Buffalo buildings, such as ones along Amherst Street on the West Side. On top of that, she is one of the organizers of City of Night, an artistic event held at Silo City (Buffalo’s old grain elevators), where a once-a-year, one-of-a-kind nighttime party takes place each summer.

Joe & Jeanenne Petri
Joe & Jeanenne Petri

Joe & Jeanenne Petri
Barnes & Noble is the Wal-Mart of books, but that doesn’t mean a small, locally-owned book store can’t thrive in today’s digital age. Husband and wife team Joe & Jeanenne Petri opened the cleverly named Westside Stories used book store on Grant Street, across the street from Prish Moran’s Sweetness7 Cafe, helping make that area of Buffalo’s West Side a destination for people who appreciate the written word, a good coffee shop, and the spirit of a lively neighborhood that’s very walkable and filled with people from all over the world. As a bonus, they sell records– remember those? You know, vinyl music discs from the 1960s/70s/80s and such? This cool couple with kids could have stayed in Brooklyn, but they chose to move to Buffalo and start something every cool city needs–a great used book store.

Nate Salter
Nate Salter

Nate Salter
Kids today need someone to look up to, and Nate Salter is one of Buffalo’s outstanding guys who cares about the City’s kids and people in general. A music minister at Greater Refuge Temple on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, Nate also owns and runs Salter’s Christian Music, which not only teaches kids from all over Western New York how to play instruments like piano, drums and guitar, but also hosts an annual Summer Youth Music Camp in East Aurora. Nate is the author of the book 7 Things Singles Should Accomplish Before Marriage as well as a prolific, internationally-touring recording artist. His latest CD, No One Above You, reaches a diverse audience with rock elements, a little opera singing, and even some dance tracks. He’s passionate about seeing Buffalo thrive, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more optimistic guy in the City.

Drew Ludwig
Drew Ludwig

Drew Ludwig
He’s originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but Drew Ludwig has become an important part of Buffalo since he took over Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (at Elmwood Avenue) in Buffalo several years ago as its Pastor. How does Drew describe himself? “Post-Evangelical, progressive, Jesus-loving, Bible quoting member of the PC(USA), with some anabaptist tendencies (and facial hair). Roman Catholic/Evangelical/Presbyterian roots, Lutheran/American Baptist Education. I’m an ecumenical mess.” His church is somewhat unconventional, serving people other churches might be intimidated by. Even more interesting is that Drew is part of ComedySportz, the local improv comedy troupe performing weekly, making stuff up and making audiences laugh.

Howard Goldman
Howard Goldman

Howard Goldman
He lives in the big old house next to Statler City with his wife Mary (a popular writer for The Buffalo News), has an appreciation for fixing up classic cars, and studies with lounge pianist Jackie Jocko to be the best lounge pianist he can be– he’s Howard Goldman, one of Buffalo’s most unique characters. He has his own web TV station! You can also see him in person, tickling the ivories inside Statler City, or (on occasion) playing piano at E.B. Green’s Steakhouse at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo.

Joanna Pasceri
Joanna Pasceri

Joanna Pasceri
As soon as she graduated college, Joanna Pasceri went right into TV news, working at an Elmira station for a couple years before coming home to the Buffalo area and working for WKBW, Channel 7. Working her way up in TV news over the years, she went from being a behind-the-scenes news writer to becoming co-anchor with Keith Radford, a job she faithfully does night after night so we all know what’s going on in Buffalo. Married with two daughters, Joanna’s a fine news reader, but it’s her personal interviews with people that touch people’s hearts in particular. Through Channel 7’s “Women In Leadership” website section, she talks with strong female leaders making a positive impact in Western New York and helps them share their stories– a very cool thing to do. Follow her on Twitter here.

Mari McNeil
Mari McNeil

Mari McNeil
Here’s a woman who did the unthinkable: she gave up her high-paying corporate job in Buffalo to become a…jazz singer. And you know what? Good for her and it worked out! Ever industrious, Mari (pronounced Mah-ree) books her own gigs, gets a band together, and is releasing her first CD this year. She’s doing what she loves– and doing it in Buffalo. Her blog is a fine example of how honest a typical Buffalonian is with the world– you can read about how she was told to get a nose job, but she realized that her nose has character and she’s fine the way she is. By the way, she’s a great entertainer!

Brooklyn artists move to Buffalo

Attention hip, young twentysomethings who live in Brooklyn: you don’t have to pay $3,000-$4,000 a month in rent to live in a cool ‘hood with coffee shops, art galleries and food trucks. You can discover Brooklyn-Lite, aka Buffalo, at the other end of the state, where there’s a fresh new scene with positive energy and momentum happening for a lot less cost. From Brooklyn to Buffalo? Yes.

Forbes magazine just named Buffalo–yes, Buffalo–the most affordable city in America.

Buffalo is not every person’s cup of tea, but for those tired of the rat race of ZOO YORK, and who wouldn’t mind a more laid-back vibe, much easier commute, and a much bigger apartment and/or actually OWNING a house, Buffalo’s not a bad choice. It’s not that unusual for people to make the move from Brooklyn to Buffalo because it’s cheaper to live in Western New York.

Brooklyn_to_BuffaloHaving lived in Brooklyn, I know what it’s like. I know that the tiny apartment I called home with two roommates cost $1,500 3 years ago, and that was for one of Brooklyn’s non-trendy ‘hoods where hardly anyone spoke English. Friends of mine who lived in Brooklyn’s industrial-turned-artistic Williamsburg, the epi-center of hipster coolness in the entire universe, were/are paying $3,000- $5,000 a month for a tiny apartment there. Whoa.

If you read the blogs and various websites about New York City, you’ll find that the artists used to live in the East Village/Lower East Side until rents went up. Then they migrated across the river to Williamsburg and now THAT place is getting to be too expensive. Buffalo, while not necessarily as “cool” as Brooklyn, has a lot of amenities that Brooklyn has at a fraction of the cost.

Brooklyn_to_Buffalo
Typical Buffalo houses

Think of it this way: Brooklyn is $4,000 a month average rent for a 2 bedroom while Buffalo is under $1,000 a rent for something similar. Both cities have subway/bus systems, but Buffalo’s a lot less congested. Traffic jams are not typical in the Buffalo area. Also, Buffalo has had a vibrant theater district for decades– many venues to see (or star in) plays, musicals and concerts. Bonus: tickets are always cheaper in Buffalo than in NYC. Buffalo is also known for sports, partying, tens of thousands of college kids, lots of wise senior citizens, bars that stay open late, boating, scuba diving Lake Erie, skiing, shopping and more free concerts and festivals each summer than you could ever ask for. Why not make the Brooklyn to Buffalo change in your life?

I think Brooklyn artists who are tired of paying the big bucks to live there should at least fly JetBlue or take Amtrak to Buffalo for a weekend or week-long visit and see the good stuff happening in the “City of Good Neighbors.” There are a plethora of art galleries to visit, and a lot of historic old buildings (pre-1939) that look nothing like the bland suburbia the rest of America has become.

Buffalo's Allentown art festival
Buffalo’s Allentown art festival

The hot spots for artists to live, work and play in Buffalo are “Elmwood Avenue,” “Hertel Avenue,” “Grant Street,” “Allentown,” and “Main Street.” If you want really cheap rent for a place to do your art, rent on the East Side of Buffalo along “Bailey” or “Jefferson.”

What would cost $500,000-$1million elsewhere can be had for $50,000-$100,000 in many parts of Buffalo, so now’s your chance to get a good deal before gentrification takes over. $250,000+ buys you a mansion in Buffalo.

Oh, and one more thing: Toronto is 2 hours away by car should you need to feel like you’re in New York City now and then.

Now is the time to move from Brooklyn to Buffalo. –Mark Weber, BeautifulBuffalo.com

 

Buffalo Botanical Gardens

Buffalo_Botanical_Gardens
Under the main dome of Buffalo’s botanical gardens

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens offer an oasis from Buffalo’s cold winter weather. Located in South Park, in South Buffalo, why not make a day of it, by visiting the gardens, followed by Our Lady of Victory Basilica, and then something to eat at Curly’s? If you’re bored and/or cold in Buffalo, you haven’t been to this area yet! It’s a warm oasis full of greenery. I love the Buffalo Botanical Gardens. –Mark Weber

Ski Buffalo

Ski_BuffaloSki Buffalo! Buffalo, New York is fortunate to have several ski resorts in its vicinity, including Holiday Valley, HoliMont, Kissing Bridge and several others. Oftentimes people complain about cold, snowy winters. These people do not ski. There’s nothing else quite like skiing down a mountain– the adrenaline rush is something everyone from toddlers to Seniors can appreciate– if they’re fearless.

Here are some pics from HoliMont, taken by BeautifulBuffalo.com’s Mark Weber, a skiier. HoliMont is North America’s largest private ski area devoted to family skiing adventures. The public can ski there weekdays during daylight hours, and there’s rarely any lines to get on the lifts. Other areas WISH they had a nice ski resort like HoliMont, a 45 minute drive south of the City of Buffalo, located in Ski Country, aka Ellicottville, aka “The Aspen of the East.” If you want to ski Buffalo, December thru March is the time of the year to do so.