Acropoversy

Yesterday, the Buffalo News wrote about the controversy surrounding the Acropolis; a “he said, she said” recitation of the two sides’ accusations against each other. If that was all you read and knew about the situation, you’d have no idea who was telling the truth, and who was lying, or who is being unreasonable.

By contrast, the Dining Rumor has a well-reasoned and persuasive take on the situation surrounding the expansion and playing of music at Acropolis.

“The question here is not about Paul’s character, or whether or not he runs a good business — the issue at hand is how the intended changes will adversely affect the Elmwood Village residential community.” This is the complaint, put as succinctly as possible, and it is this complaint alone that needs addressing. So, how does Paul’s quality of character or quality of business relate to the question of how a “new” Acropolis will affect Elmwood Village living conditions? DIRECTLY. The negative response from “Elmwood Villagers” is emotional, irrational, and just plain fearful if they are going to, as many of them do, concede the points that Paul is a) a man of character, integrity, and upstanding citizenship and b) that he runs a quality business. My question is — how does updating, renovating, increasing, or altering Acropolis’s business imply that Paul will attend to the new aspects of this business with any less quality or integrity than he attends to it in its current form? Will he be less conscientious? Will he care for it less as it grows? If Paul’s a good guy, and he runs a good business, how will the expansion change the acceptable manner in which he’s run his business to this point? Unless this is just lip service, to ease the criticisms of Paul’s business into people’s ears.

The neighbors’ complaints seem to be that Acropolis’ changes may lead to drunken people doing drunken things – something that didn’t happen when it was a postage stamp-sized diner. But, as Dining Rumor points out,

The complaint of drunken rabble, carousing down Elmwood Avenue due to a DJ event hosted by Acropolis is patently ABSURD. In the walkable three blocks of Elmwood on either side of West Ferry there are over a dozen establishments with liquor and late night hours. To say that Acropolis featuring a DJ or serving liquor poses a singular threat to peace, quiet, and clean lawns in the Elmwood Village is ridiculous. The Blue Monk churns out a college crowd hopped up on high octane beer…hipsters, twentysomethings, and thrill seekers rove the streets from Bullfeathers to Thirsty Buffalo to Faherty’s and back again…even Cecelia’s has played host to the occasional late night, out of control frat party. Why is Acropolis being singled out? The names of the owners of those other establishments don’t come up in a discussion of the behavior of their piss-drunk patrons; no one is giving them quite so much hell.

Chris will be writing more about the Acropoversy soon, but make no mistake – it is a parable; the very embodiment of every single thing that’s wrong not just with Buffalo and her government, but frankly with a very small, but very loud, self-important, and entitled minority of people who have anointed themselves as the protectors of some Elmwood fantasyland where peace and quiet reign in one of the most bustling parts of the city.

This is a combination of entrenched political ineptitude and corruption, of myriad regulations that average people are unable reasonably to navigate, of a fundamental difficulty in getting business done in town, and of dealing with people who think they have a right to dictate how a business can and should conduct itself.  You shouldn’t have to hold community meetings to expand your existing business onto an existing second floor. You shouldn’t have to apply for and obtain license after permit after license – many of which the city doesn’t make it clear you need. More importantly, you shouldn’t have to retain the services of a high-priced fixer to navigate the bundles of city red tape. (That’s literally how it’s done in third world countries.) But the real offense comes from people who object to a grown-up place catering to a grown-up clientele, serving booze and playing music in a city environment.  

The notion that the city and alleged “neighbors” are punishing Acropolis before a single noise complaint has been lodged is outrageous. And furthermore, if it’s peace and quiet you’re after, you live in the wrong place.  

62 comments

  • Brought to you by the same self-important protectors of Elmwood Village that screamed bloody murder when Pano’s wanted to knock down a dilapidated house in order to expand. Does anyone even remember what that supposed architectural gem even looked like? Seems to have turned out all right.

    The NIMBY factor is Buffalo is always high. We all enjoy criticizing our local politicians, but quite often it is the citizens of WNY that shoot themselves in the foot.

  • How DARE people try to protect the quality of their neighborhood. Don’t they know they live in the city? If you want that much say in your community, go live in the suburbs pal.
    Serioiusly, why is it when city officials try to reach a compromise with the business and neighbors it is “corruption”, but not when a suburban community tries to block low-income senior housing?

  • Brian – that’s a phenomenal deflection, bringing up low-income senior housing and thus changing the subject. Seriously, well done.

    With that said, what right do neighbors have to pre-emptively thwart the expansion of an existing business before it’s been accused of any wrongdoing? Why are you implicitly defending a byzantine regulatory process that essentially requires people to retain the services of very costly professional “fixers” to grease the wheels?

    And how many times have suburbanites been criticized as neanderthal, sprawl-promoting racists who ruin the planet through their rejection of a city’s bustling diversity, yet here we have what amounts to a very suburban-style neighborhood of expensive single-family homes complaining about the very things that make city living city living. The hypocrisy is so palpable, it’s no wonder you tried to change the subject.

  • I was making the case that the word curruption was not necessary. I never heard anybody refer to the Orchard Park town board as currupt when it blocked senior housing. When an elected officials makes a decision you don’t agree with, it’s not necessariily “entrenched political ineptitude and corruption”. What are you purporting did anybody receive in exchange for denying the license? What fixer could have they hired that would have changed the decision?
    The neighbors have every right to lobby their elected officials. That’s what happens in a democracy.
    Also, how does the Bufalo regulatory process fundamentally differ from other municipalities?

  • Maybe the residents are a little upset about a quiet little greek restaurant turning into a hip hop venue

    Hip-Hop Karaoke at The Acropolis in Buffalo – Gang Starr – You Know My Steez – February 5, 2011
    http://youtu.be/XUugNHQG3Ao

    Billy Drease Williams set at Acropolis OPA, Buffalo, NY-12/24/2010 (Part 2 of 2)
    http://youtu.be/oFMo2usgKDY

    Billy Drease Williams set at Acropolis OPA, Buffalo, NY-12/24/2010 (Part 1 of 2)
    http://youtu.be/QoSo5-gm6f4

    Yo, home owners if you don’t like it, just move to Clarence like I did.

    • Why is hip-hop or karaoke inappropriate for an urban restaurant? (And yes, if you don’t like it, move to Clarence).

      Incidentally, in watching those clips, I can’t determine (a) why it’s anyone’s business outside the restaurant what goes on in there; (b) what the volume may have been (if any) outside the restaurant as a result of the karaoke and the 16-minute rap set; (c) how many people were there; (d) what (if any) noise was taking place outside of Acropolis at that time; (e) whether anyone from the surrounding neighborhood complained about it (or heard it). Seems to me some people like the self-righteous sense of superiority of living in a city environment, but only if they can also derive the benefits of suburban quiet. Interesting.

  • ReginaldQMerriweatherIV

    Shorter ClarancePundit…

    OMFG, Black people in the EV! Here’s video!

  • Alan: I agree with you fully that there are too many “hidden” regulations and it seems to be difficult to find out what is actually required. This should be simplified. Hopefully, the Buffalo Green Code will simplify a lot of the zoning requirements, but there is much that could be done towards making a one-stop shop for new business owners to find out exactly what they need to do to stay in the city’s good graces.

    That said: The Elmwood strip has a special zoning overlay that was established in the ’70s to protect the mixed-use character of the street and discourage it from becoming an “entertainment district” comprised mainly of bars and restaurants. This means that bars and restaurants are “restricted uses” that require the discretionary approval of the Common Council.

    My understanding (albeit from hearsay) is that Acropolis has been rather bold in flouting various regulations and laws. I have read that they began construction with no permits (and had to be issued a stop work order, which they then removed and continued construction). I have read that they came to an agreement with the neighbors regarding noise levels, and then promptly declared that they would not abide by the agreement.

    Given that the Common Council is legally charged with using their discretion in deciding whether to approve a restricted use, do you feel that it is inappropriate to weigh the past behavior of an applicant when making this decision?

    I have no dog in this fight: I don’t live in the Elmwood Village, nor have I ever been to Acropolis. I am speaking solely from a perspective of the Common Council’s right to use their discretion in determining whether to approve a restricted use. Perhaps you feel there should be no special zoning overlays and perhaps the Green Code will change this, but as it stands now it seems that Common Council is doing what they are meant to be doing.

    Incidentally, I’m not sure that Dining Rumor’s points are accurate, either. Blue Monk’s opening was held up for months because of questions regarding its owner’s track record with Cole’s. Whether you or I think those questions had any merit, the name of that owner did indeed “come up in a discussion of the behavior of [his] piss-drunk patrons.”

  • Paul should have hired a general contractor familiar with the interminable regulations and permits required to expand/open a business in Buffalo. Instead, he hired a construction manager who specialized in the type of work he wanted done. If he had hired a company like Johnson & Sons, he would be in a better position. J&S knows all the required permits as well as the inspectors and knows how to grease the skids (not in a corrupt manner, they just know how to do things). However, those services are expensive and Paul chose to put the money into the building project.

    Brian, are you seriously asking if the regulatory environment is more difficult in Buffalo? Really?! Talk about being purposefully obtuse. Between the bizarre zoning code restrictions, arcane and byzantine building code standards and requirements, and the neighborhood approvals required to do much of anything, opening/expanding a business in Buffalo is a long, hard slog.

    For example, I’m in a partnership that is in the process of opening a new business in the city and we just got to the portion of the code that deals with our external signage. Holy shit, we’ve got ten steps to follow.

    Requirements down to the size of the bolts we use, the size, style and color of signage, requirements for engineering approvals, permit signoff, fees, and hassle. If we want to do something that varies from the strict guidelines by one iota? I’ll need council support, planning board approval and neighborhood signoff.

    It’ll take weeks just for the sign issue and without the help of our general contractor, we wouldn’t be familiar with the steps required as they aren’t readily available anywhere. It’s all a massive pain in the ass that isn’t necessary. Especially since we’re investing in a building that was a massive eyesore for years and helping to rebuild a west side neighborhood.

    The bigger picture is that the city hyper-regulates the existing businesses and those who wish to open businesses, but do little to enforce the rules and regulations on the thousands of vacant properties or large scale property owners in the city (see: Paladino, Carl). Selective enforcement, neighborhood busybodies, and over-regulation are significant obstacles to growing a business base in Buffalo.

  • @Chris – I was asking if it is fundamentally different than Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, etc. My hunch is that it is a tad less streamlined (eg, having to come back multiple times for the same thing)…but the fundamentals (e.g., requiring neighborhood consent, planning board approval, etc.) are probably pretty similar. I could be wrong though.

  • More Buffalo Fail. I have very little recent experience in the Elmwood Strip, but from the late 1960’s (when it was a mini-Haight Ashbury) until the early 1980’s I had quite a bit.
    Seems to me that the strip has been mixed small business, residential and bars/rest’s/entertainment as far back as 45 years ago. In the 70’s the end up by Buff State was WILD. I realize the establishment in question is further down the strip, but…
    The Common Council overseeing the Zoning Board except in the case of an appeal is ludicrous. I don’t know how the Zoning Board get their jobs, but the Board should be independent, using the CC just for advice functions. That’s how it works where I live.

    Once a quarter anyone wishing to appeal a decision of the Zoning Board (which covers the whole county) comes to a dual meeting of the Zoning Board and the Board of County Commissioners. Usually, things get worked out.

    But at the end of the day, if you choose to live in the Elmwood Strip, you should expect a vibrant, active and naturally noisy environment. If you want quiet, there’s Holland, Elma, Marilla, Evans, etc. It’s give and take in the strip. There’s obviously a price for being “trendy”

  • Chris – you are not alone thinking that Buffalo’s codes make it difficult to build here. And you are not alone in not knowing that the codes in other cities are far more difficult to navigate than codes in Buffalo. Out of curiosity I have looked at the codes of Toronto and New York City – cities that are, by most measures, very successful places. Their codes are far more difficult to abide, much more restrictive, and require more steps.

    It is irrelevant to the code that you are working on a building that is presently an eyesore; it should be maintained to the same standards as a building anywhere in the City. Of course that codes are unevenly enforced is not good, not everyone gets stopped for traffic violations either.

    Elmwood is so successful BECAUSE of zoning improvements made over 30 years ago, not because businesses have been allowed to do whatever they desire. Buffalo’s zoning section 511-56 (available online) restricts certain businesses and restricts the size of every business. These zoning codes are the law. The law that differentiates Elmwood Avenue from Delaware Avenue in North Buffalo, and other neighborhoods where zoning is less restricted. Is this bad? I think the vitality of the Elmwood Village speaks for itself.

    Alan – you think that the inside of a business is no one else’s business. The problem is that the wide opening front doors bring the noise from the inside, outside. The Acropolis owner has said that he operates a quiet place, but he also says he has spent $6,000 on soundproofing. Why would a quiet place need $6,000 of soundproofing? Regardless; the open $20,000 doors will make any soundproofing useless.

  • Happily, no one really cares what some overfed, overpaid lawyer from clarence thinks anyway. Brian is right, telling long time home owners in buffalo to move if they don’t like it, but not one peep about the hoohoo caused by a developer trying to put senior housing in Clarence is hypocritical, arrogant and clueless, just what we have come to know and love from the pundit.

  • @Clarencepundit: If no one cares, why are you on your second comment in this thread?

    The “hoohoo” caused by a developer trying to put senior housing in Clarence is interesting because it involves (a) rezoning a plot of land that happens to be the same plot of land that was sought by Wegmans; (b) a dramatic change to the town’s master plan – something Buffalo wouldn’t know about, and something the town has been careful in the past to adhere to; (c) the fact that the plot of land is owned by Ralph Lorigo, who was a political benefactor for the current town Supervisor; and (d) the fact that the Supervisor is trying to push the change through, but is hamstrung by the fact that Clarence has its land use not only in order, but subject to strict scrutiny.

    As for your personal insults to me, my email is buffalopundit[at]gmail.com. Let’s compare physiques and paychecks. You name the time & place. K?

  • @Dan Sack, it would seem to me that $6,000 in soundproofing would help make the business quiet, and therefore a “quiet business”.

    I remain intrigued by “Clarencepundit’s” apparent animus towards hip-hop and Karaoke. Not fitting in with the community there in EV, I guess.

  • Geez Alan—The Clarence Pundit is giving you an odd opportunity to feel like I did when you were still on WNYmedia.net. (you and I never had such a colliquy, but you had posters who would mention my name in a post when I hadn’t looked at your blog in a couple of months!) You do work in Buffalo, you do contribute to the tax base, who cares where you actually live if you care about the city?
    I’m 700 miles away and I care.

    The personal attack only serves to show that the one using it has a crappy argument. If clarencepundit had facts to justify his argument, he wouldn’t have to resort to a personal insult.

  • For the record, I was using low-income senior housing as an example to demonstrate a decision that a muncipality makes that doesn’t result in questioning the integrity of the people making those decisions. I don’t know anything about any proposed housing in Clarence but do respect their officials right to make the decision they feel is in the best interest of that community.

  • Alan – if you understand zoning in Clarence then it should be easy for you to understand zoning on Elmwood. Zoning on Elmwood (see 511-55, 511-56) has restaurants and bars as a “restricted use”. Acropolis isn’t even grandfathered anymore because of the remodeling (511-55).

    You think the neighbors “live in the wrong place”? No – it is the Acroplis nightclub that is in the wrong place. Acropolis was a restaurant, no problem; then it became a bar, shouldn’t be a problem; then it became a bar with loud music, DJs, and Karaoke, problem. The evolution of the business went from a place neighbors appreciated to a place that irritated the neighbors. Why should the neighbors be the ones to move?

    Zoning regulations don’t exist to maximize profits for businesses, but rather to regulate the buildings and uses allowed in an area. If a business does not like the zoning in a particular place they should build their business somewhere else, or apply for a variance. Really quite simple. Happens all the time.

    No, $6,000 in soundproofing will not quiet Acropolis. One, because of the wide-open front doors. Two, because the so-called soundproofing Paul described is totally inadequate. This is a subject I know quite a bit about. NRC and STC are quite different. NRC important for interior acoustics, STC important for preventing sound from leaking outside. If Paul really placed 3 layers of plywood on walls (according to Paul at community meeting) to improve the STC, he got bad advice.

    • “then it became a bar with loud music, DJs, and Karaoke, problem.” Not sure I’ve seen much evidence that this has actually caused irritation. Only speculative irritation. Witness the posting of the videos further up the thread.

      As for the city’s zoning requirements. I did a Google search for them. I got a 404.

      I ultimately found it, not without some difficulty.

      In any event, it would seem to me that Acropolis is changing from one type of restaurant to another type of restaurant. It will have a kitchen, tables, and a menu. Whether they have a Karaoke night or host a band really shouldn’t be anyone’s concern until and unless it becomes a nuisance, in which case the surrounding neighborhood has legal recourse.

      But my understanding from Pauly is that you’ve already informed him that you’ll be filing a lawsuit against him in this matter, so your allegations regarding zoning improprieties will have an opportunity to be litigated.

      And the cost of that litigation may very well cost Pauly his business, and the EV will have yet another “for sale or lease” sign on a restaurant that wanted to change into a restaurant.

  • “…Pano’s wanted to knock down a dilapidated house in order to expand. Does anyone even remember what that supposed architectural gem even looked like…”

    Here is a story with picture of the Atwater House
    http://archives.buffalorising.com/story/a_new_home_for_the_atwater_hou#sca

    The house only became dilapidated because Pano did not maintain it, evicted the businesses and invited his son’s friends to have demolition parties at the house, i.e. let’s get drunk and take sledgehammers to the walls.

  • So there it is..Hip-hop. When I read that then I knew what the fuss is all about. So that means “The Little Greek” restaurant will have to get the DJ music list approved by the neighbors? (by the way..lots more noise at The Blue Monk and a cheap shot at Pano’s. Love that place.) Thank you Acropolis for your lovely re-model. The place is stunning.

  • Whomever lives directly behind Acropolis is welcome to sell me their house, and they can buy mine. It’s in a very quiet neighborhood, inground pool, and no worries of young whippersnappers playing that ‘rock and roll’ music.

    I’d gladly take the hustle and bustle of living one block off the Elmwood strip.

  • I am not filing a lawsuit. And never told him or anyone else I would or even considered it. Interesting.

    Buffalo zoning code is easy to find. Go to City website, search for “Charter”. All the Charter is displayed in quite a good format. You can search for specifics too.

    511-55 and 511-56 are quite easy to read; I am not a lawyer, and still find it very simple Enlarging a “restricted use” requires Council approval. Doesn’t matter what you or I think, it is the law. If you want it changed – talk to your council member. They make the laws.

    • I read them. I also read the entry under 511-56 for “Eating and drinking places”. Acropolis is changing from an eating and drinking place into…

      …an eating and drinking place.

      So, if that’s the law, Pauly should be all set.

      As for the lawsuit, he’s fully expecting one, mostly in light of the Article 78 you filed that was heard in Whalen’s part.

  • Alan – read them again. You are a lawyer? Tell me what I am missing about:

    511-55 A. “…or extend such a use…or remodel…” And the second floor is changing from a residence to an eating/drinking establishment.

    Maybe there will be a lawsuit, I don’t know, but I do know it will not be by me; regardless of what Pauly or you think.

  • It’s my understanding that the remodel is all approved. The issue is the zoning ordinance you cited, and the fact remains that whatever “changes” are taking place do not fundamentally change the nature of the business – it was and remains an “Eating and drinking place”.

    You don’t need to be a lawyer to figure that one out.

  • I agree that extending the restaurant to the second floor was approved last year. The bar on the second floor was not. Refer to appropriate Council Proceedings for references (use IE, not as easy to navigate as the Charter). If you need help, I can provide the documents.

    Changing the second floor from eating, to eating and drinking is a fundamental change in the second floor. The SLA has not yet approved it yet – but Pauly has built the bar anyway.

    • 1. People can eat at a bar.
      2. The zoning you refer to contains the term “eating and drinking”. Not “eating or drinking”.
      3. The fact that someone needs to go to the common council for permission to do something to the interior of his business is outrageous.
      4. The fact that people can complain and block a business’ expansion based on speculation and hurt feelings is outrageous.
      5. The fact that Pauly is being given the third degree because he didn’t make the right friends in the right way is outrageous.

      I’m no libertarian by any means, and I think you need to have rules to promote a civilized society. But too many rules under the watchful eye of too many people aren’t good for anyone.

      It’s as if you guys couldn’t call the cops or file for injunctive relief on a nuisance theory. Instead, we’re all about prior constraint.

  • Sounds like you are a libertarian or just don’t believe in zoning laws that restrict use. Sorry, it is the law.

    He built a bar so people can eat there? Okay. I have eaten at bars too. But I think everyone except you understands that his application for the second floor bar to the City and the SLA is for drinking (alcohol).

    • No, he built a six foot long bar on the second floor to serve the people who will be dining at the 15 tables on the second floor. Would you rather the servers traipse up and down 17 stairs with trays full of martinis to serve the second floor patrons? Seems unsafe to me. I guess Dan Sack cares nothing for the safety of waitresses.

      The second floor, which I visited two weeks ago in the process of writing an article is nicely designed, allows him to double his table space (thus increasing margin and hiring more employees), and allows him to serve drinks. THE HORROR! The patio is accessed by a door with an automatic closure, there are no speakers on the patio, no windows into the main space from which music would escape, and there is room for three tables of 2-4 patrons. THE HORROR! People eating outside who might speak loudly? I hope Cecelia’s huge patio (two doors down) is also to be revisited as a neighborhood nuisance.

    • The a second floor bar is for eating and drinking, as the zoning law describes.

  • A business doesn’t need SLA permission to build a bar. They only need the license to serve from it. I’ve been in countless places that had fully functional bar areas that just didn’t serve alcohol yet because they didn’t have the license.

    This whole matter is just crazy. I have friends that live on Ashland and Auburn. I’ve walked down Ashland countless times on the way back to their place. There’s more noise coming from some of the houses on that street than the strip.

    The NIMBY is just over the top.

  • I can order a beer at Acropolis today.

    Why is it perfectly acceptable if I do it downstairs, but become a detriment to the community if I walk up a flight of stairs first?

  • Sounds to me that the old people who live around Elmwood want the blayyycks and young whippersnappers to stay out of the neighborhood. Oh, also nice that former aide to Sen. Schumer and legendary pain-in-the-ass, Deborah Lynn Williams, has been throwing her weight around on this as well. Paul is up against some professional obstructionists and bitchy old maids in this fight. Good luck, shoulda built in Amherst, chief.

  • JSmith, the problems with the Blue Monk’s opening had less to do with Cole’s reputation or the Shatzels than it did with a) the reputation of Kevin Brinkworth (a partner, because his family owns the building the Blue Monk is in) and b) the reputation of the address at which the Blue Monk was opening, which was Merlin’s. For whatever reason, the SLA weights location and history of business ownership more heavily than it does the new ownership in their decisions. Additionally there were construction issues with the bar and the entranceway, and all of these together were the significant factors in the Blue Monk’s opening delays.

  • Chris Smith – What about the waitresses carrying trays of hot food with knives and forks upstairs from the kitchen? Would you propose he build a kitchen upstairs? Have you heard of safety problems with stairs at any of the bars that have bars downstairs and a second level with no bar? There are plenty in Buffalo.

    Why not have a bar upstairs? More drinking, more drunks. Which is why there is a 511-56 in the Buffalo zoning code. Which is why Elmwood is so successful.

    I think the purpose of the second floor bar is not in dispute. It is not for eating, though people could eat there. It is not for serving soft drinks, though people could drink them there. Seriously?

    • Those waitresses carrying food upstairs will do so from the service area at the rear of the kitchen and up the dedicated kitchen staircase in the back of the restaurant, where customers will not be found lingering. The bar service area is in the front of the restaurant, on the other side of the kitchen, and would require them to carry drink trays through a busy kitchen, which is also unsafe and disruptive to kitchen staff who are already operating in very close quarters. Or they would have to carry their trays up the narrow front stairway where customers will be. You clearly don’t give a shit about any of that, nor do you know anything about running a restaurant. Having a bar on the second floor makes service more timely, customers happier, and safer for the wait staff.

      Elmwood is successful because it’s one of the few places in this town where there are things to do, places to eat/drink, and stuff to buy. How does Paul’s proposed expansion negatively affect any of that? Do you feel that your bizarre opposition to this project might have a deleterious effect on the neighborhood and its reputation as a place to conduct business? Do you feel that these overbearing regulations and limitations have some causal relationship with the frequent churn of business in the district?

      That you feel you should have any say in this matter is absolutely ludicrous. It was a restaurant/bar that became a restaurant/bar. A quick google search of your name reveals that you live nearly a mile away (well over 4 full blocks) from the restaurant. I’d call you a NIMBY, but this project isn’t anywhere near your backyard.

  • I guess Dan Sack cares nothing for the safety of waitresses.

    professional obstructionists and bitchy old maids

    Uncalled for.

  • More video of the thugs threatening the Elmwood village neighborhood with their Hip Hop Karaoke.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTbMiC0A298

    The facts are as follows:
    HHK was only once a week. 1 saturday a month.
    11pm start with music & performance ending at 1am.
    75% caucasian 25% afr. amer.
    Free admission and free to perform (always)
    Each month a top performer was crowned (every winner to date was a female)
    Not a single fight, argument or incident

    So basically whats threatening the EV community with Acropolis hosting HHK is the normal demographic make-up, enjoying themselves and performing hip hop songs (karaoke style) for 2 HOURS A MONTH. I can see how thats scary for the neighbors.

    In closing, as the host for HHK, I feel horrible about how this has negatively impacted Paul’s business and livelihood, as the intent was to provide karaoke with a twist. Considering how hip hop remains one of the only genres that crosses color lines and age barriers it made sense to bring something to Buffalo that has set other parts of North America on fire with excitement, enjoyment and laughter.

    My HHK partner and I have a long history of nearly flawless, family oriented, peaceful hip hop driven events at landmark establishments ON Elmwood, namely The Albright-Knox Art Gallery and The Burchfield Penny Art Center, but we run into this kind of nonsensical roadblock at an independently run restaurant? Gee-wiz!

  • Why not have a bar upstairs? More drinking, more drunks.

    Businesses with bars come and go. The building of Talking Leaves books used to be a bar, now isn’t. Some others went out of business and sit empty. Mode and Off The Wall, for instance.

    Where Mezza now is with a bar used to be an ice cream parlor. Solid Grounds Coffee was replaced by a wine bar. Hasn’t Mark Goldman started businesses with bars in buildings that used to not have bars on Allen and recently in Blackrock?

    All of those are near housing. If these opponents weren’t against those on the basis of “More drinking, more drunks.”, now being against the upstairs of Acropolis containing a bar sounds arbitrary or personal against the owner.

    Acropolis might lure some customers who would otherwise go to Cecelia’s, Blue Monk, Mezza, or other businesses. But how would that mean “More drinking, more drunks.”? If people decide to drink irresponsibly, it can be a big problem no matter where it happens. That won’t change by preventing a bar from being in a certain building or restricted to having a bar on only one floor of it. Anything anybody could do on either floor of Acropolis, responsible or irresponsible, they can also do somewhere else nearby as things stand now.

  • mike in buffalo

    Why do businesses need licenses to play music? Is it to protect the welfare and safety of customers? Are we afraid that unlicensed music playing establishments would blow out their customers’ ear drums?

  • Chris, I guess if you don’t like people with alternate points of view, name-calling is an approved journalistic technique.

    Your Google search apparently didn’t catch my efforts speaking on behalf of building projects on Elmwood – like my testimony to the Common Council supporting the Savarino hotel project at Elmwood and Forest, or my efforts to find a solution for the City to divide the land of the former park where Globe Market is. But to some people, any opposition to any project is bad. We should just trust business owners to do the right thing; we see how well that has worked here and elsewhere.

    You may have been convinced by Pauly that the second floor bar is a safety issue but I haven’t seen evidence regarding any problems with wait staff walking upstairs with food and/or drinks at other bar/restaurants.

    • Then again, other bar/restaurants with two stories, (e.g., Laughlin’s) aren’t the size of postage stamps.

    • Paul never once discussed the safety issue with me. During my visit, I reviewed the plans and permits, spoke with his construction manager, took a look at the materials being used, checked out the patio space, the doors and windows, spoke with Paul about how he plans to lay out the second floor dining space, examined the size of the bar, checked out the wiring, the fire escape, and listened to him tell me why he wanted to buildout the way he wanted to buildout. Looking at the facility and having worked in similar establishments, I concluded that having the waitresses serve second floor guests from the first floor bar would be a safety concern as well as a hassle for the customers.

      I don’t care to know what else you stand for, what hastily thrown together coalitions of ambiguously employed and concerned bearded men you’ve joined, what your interests are, if you pay your taxes or if you enjoy long walks on the beach with your principles. None of that matters. What matters is your standing in this particular issue, how you might be harmed by his expansion, and your proximity to the building. What also matters are the questions you didn’t answer.

      Elmwood is successful because it’s one of the few places in this town where there are things to do, places to eat/drink, and stuff to buy. How does Paul’s proposed expansion negatively affect any of that? Do you feel that your bizarre opposition to this project might have a deleterious effect on the neighborhood and its reputation as a place to conduct business? Do you feel that these overbearing regulations and limitations have some causal relationship with the frequent churn of business in the district?

      We shouldn’t just “trust business owners to do the right thing”, if you have any idea about my politics, you’d know I don’t support that. What I do support is a committed long term business owner investing in his building and his neighborhood. A guy who is converting his facility from a restaurant/bar into a restaurant/bar. Who wants to make a cool place for people to dine, drink, and hang out. A guy who wants to double his number of employees, grow his business, and support his family all while meeting obnoxious irregularly and selectively enforced regulations and dealing with busybodies who examine every table placement or musical note that emanates from his facility without demonstrating (beyond asking for prior constraint) what harm will come of his actions.

  • Mr. Sack-

    Let’s cut through the rhetoric here. I’d like to ask you to detail your specific, personal objections to Acropolis’ expansion plans. I’d like to know what specifically they want to do that will affect your quality of life as a resident of the area.

    From your posts so far, the only objection you seem to have is the noise, and considering you live 4 city blocks away from the premises, you have no standing to make this complaint.

  • Mr. Beecher – My “standing”?

    I have lived/invested in the Elmwood Village for 36 years. I believe, but you don’t have to, that development in the neighborhood affects the entire neighborhood. In my opinion the long time activism of Elmwood residents has been beneficial to the area. I’m sorry I don’t have time now to detail all the issues that have come up over the years but I maintain that Elmwood is so healthy, in large part, because of hard-fought battles over building issues.

    I care about this issue for the larger neighborhood and for friends who live very close to Acropolis.

    If you don’t think I should care that is fine.

  • No one’s asking for a resume. Beecher makes the salient point that you ought not have standing to complain about noise from a business that is well out of your earshot. I’m sure those “friends who live very close to Acropolis” have the ability to bring lawsuits and complain on their own behalf.

  • Alan – why do you care?

    • Because I make it a point to expose when businessowners in Buffalo are being treated selectively and unfairly, whenever I am made aware of it.

  • Why Alan? Do you live in Buffalo?

    • No. I live in Clarence and work in Buffalo. I also write food reviews for the Buffalo Spree and take a keen interest in what’s going on in the food scene throughout the region.

  • Alan – So it is okay for you to have an opinion about a business on Elmwood even though you live in Clarence and work in Buffalo. But I should not even care or take a keen interest in my neighborhood.

    • Your complaint is about “noise” you can’t hear and a supposed zoning issue over Acropolis’ dramatic shift from a eatery and bar into an eatery and bar.

      My complaint is about businesses being treated unfairly or selectively.

      No one’s saying you can’t “have an opinion”. But my opinion isn’t costing anyone any money, or obstructing what really ought to be something completely uncontroversial.

  • Alan – correct, you and others aren’t saying I “can’t” have an opinion, but it seems you think I have no reason to express my opinion. You are concerned about a business. I am concerned about nearby businesses and residents. My concern is about investment and quality of life in my neighborhood.

  • I’ve tried not to question your right to have an opinion. You’ve obviously entitled to one.

    I appreciate your dedication to your neighborhood, and wanting to make it better. As a resident of Niagara Falls, I wish we had people around here who cared more.

    My issue with this is simple. If the complaint is noise, the people who would be affected are the ones that should be providing their input.

    It makes as much sense for you, who lives a mile away from the building, to complain about the potential noise as it would for me, who lives in another city. Neither one of would ever hear anything coming from there.

    I appreciate that you’re concerned about nearby businesses and residents, however, if they have problems with this, then they can speak for themselves, unless you’re on retainer to represent them or be their spokesperson.

  • Tom, your wrote, “you have no standing to make this complaint”. Seems you are questioning my right to have an opinion and to state my opinion, as I and other have done. Are responses to these blogs supposed to be geographically limited?

    You have a problem with my helping friends in my neighborhood? That seems strange. No, I am not on “retainer” (?!).

    • Having standing to make a complaint that blocks a business’ right to do business is different from “having an opinion”. What you (and others) are doing are causing the business irreparable harm. I sure wouldn’t do that lightly.

  • Alan – I and others are concerned about the irreparable harm to a neighborhood. I don’t do that lightly. You and others are of the mistaken belief that the business wants to change from a restaurant/bar to a restaurant/bar when, in fact, in a very short time the business changed from a restaurant to a restaurant with a bar, to a restaurant with a bar and nightclub, and now the business wants to increase the size of the restaurant/bar/nightclub. I can understand if you didn’t follow the issue closely enough to understand that, but that is the case. Many bar/restaurants have opened without resistance on Elmwood since 511-56 was passed over 30 years ago. Neighbors have no problem with bars and restaurants, quite the contrary. But the evolution of Acropolis to a noisy nightclub does not fit with the neighborhood.

    • Your characterization of it as a “noisy nightclub” is subjective, and if people go to Acropolis, then your conclusion that it does “not fit with the neighborhood” is objectively incorrect. In fact, someone trolled the thread earlier with “hip hop karaoke” videos that were somehow supposed to be damning. Seemed pretty well-attended, to me. The resistance here seems very selective and quite disingenuous.

  • If you apply the same standard of objection to what Acropolis WANTS to do to what already exists on Elmwood, then by my rough count there are about 8 businesses that Mr. Sack should want shut down.

    Good neighbor indeed.

  • Alan, “noisy nightclub” is perhaps subjective. I believe the City is trying to figure out how to enforce their noise regulations. It is not impossible, but not as easy to enforce as speed limits – which are definitely selectively enforced.

    Tom, I know of no Elmwood businesses that I want to shut down. Not even Acropolis.

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