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New location for farmers market up and running with assorted offerings downtown

By Joanne Beck
Lori Schwab displays apples for sale in Schwab Farm Market and Bakery booth at the Genesee Country Farmers Market on School Street, between Jackson and Center, in Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Warm weather, sunny skies and new faces made for a good beginning of a new location of Genesee Country Farmers Market, Manager Rebecca Grela says.

Grela was working the market at its new site in the lot at School and Jackson streets in downtown Batavia Friday.

“And it's a gorgeous day to start the pop-ups in May on Fridays that were allowed by the city. One of our vendors came up with the idea as like a soft opening to get the public used to being in our new location and to work out any kinks before the full season opens on June 7,” Grela said. “I think it's great. We already have new customers that we've not seen before from a few blocks away. They've walked over for lunch this morning, or they said they'll be back for lunch during the different days of the week, we have different food trucks.

“I think we're a little bit closer to Ellicott Street, so we're gonna get some traffic from there,” she said. “I’m very excited about the new location.”

The market has been next to the former JC Penney store at City Centre for years, but that area will likely get more congested with the construction of a new police station at Alva Place and Bank Street and shifting of parking for customers and business employees.

“I think we will lose some foot traffic from the other place. But with the construction and everything going on over there, I think this is also a safer location. And that's not only safer for the vendors, but also for our consumers,” Grela said. “They bring their families or their dogs, and I feel this is a lot safer parking lot than what we had over there. Definitely different traffic.”

She expects to have up to 16 vendors on Fridays once the full market begins in June. And then it will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Right now, it’s 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays through May. 

“And we have anywhere between six to eight, maybe nine, vendors on the five Fridays in May,” she said. “But we will have three different food trucks in May as well.”

Photos by Howard Owens


Downtown business group responds to city parking plan

By Joanne Beck

Sharon Kubiniec, a downtown property owner and spokesperson for a group of businesses affected by construction staging of the new City of Batavia police facility, said Tuesday that a two-phase plan to alleviate a lack of handicap parking is “a step into the right direction.”

City Manager Rachael Tabelski sent the business owners and media a four-page plan and maps that would eventually bring back a first row of parking as one step toward improving the parking situation. 

“The proposed changes will help restore our trust in city government. Going forward we would hope that communication between city planners and  business owners/tenants would be frequent and ongoing,” Kubiniec said to The Batavian. “For instance, we need a plan for snow removal, salting the sidewalks and plowing the sidewalks in a timely matter. We can only hope that as this ever changing situation continues, we are given a chance to be heard. We need some things in writing and we still have some concerns about the final layout.”

Dr. Adam Gregor, a dentist at 180 Washington Ave., said that Phase II “does offer nearby parking,” but that “it’s hard to say that’s an improvement.”

“But, it is the city doing what they originally said they would. And for that, I’m thankful,” Gregor said. “Phase I still has concerns to me. Phase I should only be temporary and will last until June, when the weather won’t have as much of an effect. But I still won’t have any nearby or handicap parking during that time.

“I would suggest one additional curb cut near my office to try to limit patients being dropped off far away or at a potentially dangerous intersection,” he said. “Likewise, I would suggest that multiple spaces near the new access ramp be reserved for handicap parking or patients with limited mobility — they are the ones that need the access ramp the most.” 

City issues two-phase parking plan for new police station construction staging area

By Joanne Beck
Phase I parking plan for downtown
Phase I parking plan for the downtown parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street in Batavia.
Submitted rendering from City of Batavia

Batavia city management sent out a new parking plan Tuesday for the downtown police station staging area in the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street. 

A dozen business owners have been without parking adjacent to their offices on the south side alongside the parking lot for the last three weeks, and some have complained to city management, City Council, local media and through a petition circulating on Those owners have been losing patients and/or getting cancellations and no-show appointments due to the safety issues and inconvenience of parking, they have said.

"Over the past two weeks, City leadership has held several meetings with the construction team and its project representatives, to find options that will allow for use of a portion of the City owned lot on Alva and Bank streets for customers of the adjacent businesses, while still allowing for the Police Station building project to be completed to the scale and scope originally intended,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said in a letter to Washington Avenue and State Street businesses. “Providing patients and customers access to local businesses is a key priority for the City. This past week, the City issued an emergency change directive to replace the current and proposed configuration of the safety fencing.

"To develop a positive solution, it is important to remember that both sides will have to compromise along the way," she said. "I am pleased to share the results of the change directive. In addition to added sidewalks, striping of the adjacent City streets, as well as an added ramp in the existing parking lot, the site safety fence will be moved in two different phases as outlined below as construction proceeds."

There will be two phases to open up a first row of parking by mid-June, which was requested by the business owners for their older patients and those with disabilities. Phase I will begin under emergency necessity, she said, pending approval of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is the department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development and food. 

The entire plan is available HERE.

“Please encourage your staff to park in the JC Penney lot across Alva Place. We also encourage you to share this parking plan with your customers,” Tabelski said.  “We will keep you apprised as plans for both phases move forward. Thank you for your patience as the construction project proceeds.”

Phase II parking plan for downtown
Phase II parking plan for the downtown parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street in Batavia.
Submitted rendering by City of Batavia.

Downtown business owners lose patience and patients, hoping solutions are soon

By Joanne Beck
handicap sidewalk at Canzoneri
A portion of this handicap sidewalk with railing at Dr. Joseph Canzoneri's office is to be removed as part of the new city police station construction, staff says, prompting the doctor to seek out a new temporary space for the next two years.
Photo by Joanne Beck 

John and Debbie Konieczny have been frequent fliers in the downtown medical community for the last twenty years, getting their dental, podiatry and chiropractic needs met there. 

With physical challenges — he has ulcers on the bottom of his 68-year-old feet, and she has had two knee replacements, and both use canes to walk — they are now biding their time that adjacent handicapped parking will be restored next to their doctors’ offices.

“You can’t find parking on Washington, or if you do, you have to climb up the curb to get in, and it’s not safe when the grass is wet. We don’t know what the next step is, if he’s gonna have to be put in a wheelchair, if that’s the case, we won’t be coming,” Mrs. Konieczny, 72, said Monday while waiting for her appointment at Dr. Thomas Mazurkiewicz’s office at 184 Washington Ave. “I’m not making any decision because I know we both need his service, and my dentist is right next door. So there’s got to be something that can be done. They haven’t even broke ground yet, and they’ve got it all fenced off.”

She suggested that the city should have just taken the JC Penney building for a new police facility. However, that site was purchased quite awhile ago by a West Coast developer. According to consultant studies, the current police station at 10 W. Main St. has already been deemed too costly and awkward to retrofit for a police station that would work for all of the city’s needs. 

She said Mr. Konieczny cannot get to Canzoneri’s office, though, given his issues, he cannot afford to stop seeking medical care.

To be clear, it was fairly easy to walk to Canzoneri’s office on Monday. But there is to be a fence installed right up to the sidewalk, and a portion of the walkway removed as construction progresses, staff said. At that point, no one will have a path for getting into the office as there is no second entrance, and the sidewalk from State Street has uneven blocks of the walk and a hill from the street up toward a more level portion, which will make it difficult for people with canes, crutches and wheelchairs, staff said.

Canzoneri posted a notice on his building door and sent out a press release Monday that stated his business, Advanced Podiatry Associates, is making every effort to accommodate patients during the construction of the city police station. The doctor is currently attempting to secure a new temporary location for his practice with plenty of handicap accessibility and ample parking for the next two years.

Meanwhile, a staff member said there have been several cancellations—about 15 a day—since construction and a lack of nearby parking began three weeks ago. 

Mazurkiewicz’s office staff said his practice lost 10 to 15 patients in that same period, in addition to having more “no-shows.”

Next door is dentist Dr. Adam Gregor, who has been in the space since February 2022. He has a solid clientele of 3,000 people who have remained with him, though frustrated and late for appointments at times, he said. 

“I think to a certain extent, I don't think I've dealt with the same hardships as some other businesses here. I haven't had patients that have had to cancel their appointments that I'm aware of. I think for the most part, some patients are coming in late, understandably so. But for the most part, the patients I have scheduled, I still am able to see them. It's just sometimes they're late. Oftentimes, they're frustrated. But we're getting through it.

I think most of us, as business owners, are on the same page. We're not trying to hang up this project, or delay this project, or stop the project, it's just a matter of, what was presented to us originally, is different than the current situation. If we had been aware of what the true situation would have been, I think we would have been able to give some input or try to prevent some of these problems from developing. So, mainly, it's just a patient safety issue. It's one thing for a healthy patient to make a little extended walk, but for these patients that need handicapped parking or have difficulty with mobility, those are the people we're trying to look out for the most.”

Business owners have met with city management and council members, and Gregor said he thinks “they are aware of our concerns.” He said that the owners have been vocal and issued a petition to garner support from patients and the public, which has at least 300 signatures. But now it seems to be a matter of timing.

“I think they understand how serious of a concern it can be, I think they are listening. It’s just a matter of these measures: how fast can we implement them? Like, we needed them yesterday,” he said. “So that’s the thing: we don’t know how long or what kind of timetable we’re looking at.”

The Batavian reached out to City Manager Rachael Tabelski for an update on the situation and to respond to a business owner’s contention that more parking spots were being removed in the Alva and Bank lot Monday morning. 

“The fence has not moved today,” Tabelski said. “Updates in the next few days with parking accommodations.”

Area next to Millennium Computer being dug up

A patch of grass was being dug up alongside a sidewalk on the south side of the Washington Avenue buildings. Marc Johnson of Millennium Computer had previously offered use of his grassy property for a parking area, and Tabelski seemed to favor the idea. However, nothing official has been announced about that idea.

The bottom line for Gregor and Mazurkiewicz was to restore the first row of parking alongside the parking lot side of Washington Avenue businesses for handicapped parking. Other solutions that still put patients on Washington Avenue aren’t free from issues, such as what Kate, a paraplegic who didn’t want her last name used, deals with on a regular basis.

Kate goes to Mazurkiewicz in her modified truck with a door that opens up like a Lamborghini. 

“And I usually require a handicap spot with the crosshatch lines. Well, of course, the Jerome Center doesn't have those handicapped ones; they only just have handicapped spots. That's it. So how the hell am I supposed to get out of my truck?" she said. "So now I’ve got to drive around trying to find an end spot to get out of my truck, then I have to take my button, go all the way around to my appointment, not to mention right in the middle of trying to get on the sidewalk. There's huge, ginormous stones. So I had to go over those, and one almost got in my tire and stuck in it."

Parking on the street would mean opening that big door onto the street side, she said. And she’s apprehensive about the way people drive while she’d attempt getting in and out of her vehicle if parked on Washington.

“Not on this street. Absolutely not. I wouldn't trust it in a heartbeat,” she said. “People are not paying attention like some of them run through (the stop sign) or just texting and driving or yelling at a kid or something. They're not paying attention.”

She is used to some inconveniences, such as ignorance about giving her vehicle adequate space and respecting handicap rules, and isn’t sure how this whole thing will shake out over the next 18 months.

“That's another thing I hate about people with those stickers because they're taken away from us. Like, it's just not fair. And then I have a thing on my door that says, I have a modified vehicle, you know, park at least 15 feet away. Nobody reads it. And just ignorance. So, like I said, I don't think there's a solution to this,” she said. “And I don't know how long it's gonna take, but I mean, it's definitely like I had to come, I don't know, 25 minutes earlier to this appointment. Usually, I'm in and out in five minutes.”

Beyond the city’s support, another group — the downtown Business Improvement District — has been oddly quiet, some city business owners, including former BID President Paul Marchese said. 

All of the businesses involved in this issue pay BID property taxes and are members of the nonprofit group. Marchese emailed 33 BID members, encouraging them to unite and send a message to the city that what’s happening to those dozen businesses is not right and should be resolved.

A member of the Batavia Town Planning Board, Marchese is familiar with how state environmental quality reviews (SEQR) happen, and believes that perhaps this project didn’t merit a negative declaration, which means there would be no negative impact on the surrounding area and entities due to the project. 

The city filed a negative SEQR. “This is as far from that as possible. We would like SEQRA reopened, and the declaration changed to a positive one. We also request the fencing be removed and replaced with the one shown originally to all affected that provided them with parking in the lot of their respective businesses,” he said.

He also wanted to make clear that “we also resolve we are in full support of the police and all other emergency workers” as opposed to statements made by city leaders implying otherwise. He implored BID members to take a stand and have a voice instead of remaining silent in the face of the ongoing battle between those 12 businesses and city management.

Marchese was not certain who the current BID president was. The Batavian contacted BID Executive Director Shannon Maute for a current list of board members and president and asked if BID was going to respond to the parking issue. She did not return the phone call or email a response as requested.

Downtown business group shares petition, reaches out for answers, airs grievances

By Joanne Beck
Alva Bank parking lot
2024 File Photo of fencing along a row of businesses in the Alva and Bank parking lot block patients from having handicap parking and has prompted the business group to draft a petition for support.
Photo by Howard Owens

The last two days have seen a whirlwind of activity — social media posts, email chains, a petition and attempts to reach out to City Council -- from the group of Downtown Batavia business owners upset and overwhelmed with parking issues due to the new police facility construction staging area and a lack of handicap parking directly in front of their offices in the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street.

The business group is seeking at least a thousand signatures on the petition, filed with The petition urges the “City Council of Batavia to take immediate action by restoring promised parking spaces during construction of our much-needed Police Station.”

“By doing so, they can improve accessibility for those who need it most while supporting local businesses that contribute significantly to our city's economy,” the petition states.

The idea behind the document is so that “the city can understand how many people this affects,” property owner Sharon Kubiniec said Saturday. The business group will then present it to city council and pertinent staff involved in the project, she said.

"April 10, they promised one row of parking along the north side of the buildings as well as the west end to be provided by Dr. Canzoneri and Village Physical Therapy. So we’re looking for one row of handicap parking, we’re concerned about our handicap patients," Kubiniec said. “I have been in that building for over 40 years, and very rarely has Washington Avenue sidewalks ever been plowed. And the snow builds up there. December when patients are parking on Washington Avenue, climbing over snowbanks to icy sidewalks, those are accidents waiting to happen, and that’s what we want to avoid.”

When the business owners first learned about a new police station being built in that lot location, “we thought it was great; we would be safer,” she said. But they were never brought to the construction site to actually see the setup. 

Once fencing went up, their patients were shut out from parking close to the offices and relegated to street parking, which many have objected to as insufficient for elderly patients, those with disabilities, and those with walking devices. Business owners have since said they have lost customers due to the inconvenience and hassle and are concerned about their patient's safety.

“The business model shows businesses thriving, we’re not thriving. For us not to be considered is horrible,” Kubiniec said. “They’re trying to make the police department happy, that’s wonderful, but it can’t just serve one sector of the population. 

“I’m not trying to put the blame anywhere,” she said. “Let’s move the fence back 40 feet so we can use that one row of parking. We are trying to amicably solve the problem. We want to be reasonable, we want a win-win for everybody. When Eugene Jankowski says you need to give a little, well they need to give a little as well.” 

City Manager Rachael Tabelski emailed Kubiniec an update Saturday that using a shuttle bus for patients was not going to work because no city employee was available to drive the vehicle, but she was checking on pricing from RTS as another option.

Other updates would be forthcoming as to “the city’s accommodation plans,” Tabelski said, and “we are working on different options to help the business owners on Washington and State and pushing our architects to relook at site/staging layout.”

Although there wasn’t ample detail, it was a response, which Kubiniec appreciated, she said.

“The unknowing is what’s so scary for businesses,” she said. “We need more communication.”

On Thursday, she attempted to talk to City Councilman-at-Large Bob Bialkowski, who informed her that council members were not to discuss the police station issues with business owners. Council President Eugene Jankowski said that all such matters were to be referred to Tabelski as the project lead. 

Kubiniec questions that line of authorization since a letter dated March 8, 2023, related to the state environmental review, states that “City Council of Batavia announced its intent to serve as lead agency on Feb. 13, 2023 …” If the council was the lead agency for the SEQR at that time, she believes council members should have the authority to speak to business owners now.   

Dr. Joseph Canzoneri, who owns his own podiatry practice on State Street, posted his thoughts on social media Saturday morning. He opened with “People of Batavia, you are getting forced a new police station guaranteed to have cost over runs with a budget set at almost $15.5 million today and it hasn’t even started yet?”

“They need one, and I certainly would agree to that. But at what expense to the community and to the taxpayers as well as businesses directly involved in the proximity in Alva Place?” he continued. 

The planning board approved final plans without inviting any of the affected businesses, he said, and no impact studies were done as to the “sheer volume and parking spots needed to continue to do business.”

“Their remedy was to create parallel parking for disabled people and exhausting distances for people to walk just to support the businesses they support for years. They knew what they were doing and when questioned about the disability act they said because they own the parking lot they could basically do what they want,” he said. “Jankowski city council president is hell bent to fulfill his selfish legacy of a new police station. No matter what detrimental affects (sic) it has on the community. He is shameful to call people antipolice as he scapegoats the attention created by the injustice for those that oppose the planning and staging area which destroys valid parking for businesses to survive and safety considerations for patients.” 

He also urged people to remember this during the next election.

Jankowski said that even though Canzoneri “said hurtful things about me I’m confident we can still work something out for all the businesses and their patrons.”

“It’s the right thing to do, and I’m not giving up,” Jankowski said. “The city manager has been working tirelessly on solutions to resolve the business owners’ complaints.  All options are being explored but it does take a few days to make them work.” 

As for the petition, here it is in its entirety:

In the heart of Batavia, NY, a personal struggle is unfolding. Patients being treated by these local businesses are attempting to attend their appointments but find themselves having to park far away from their destinations. Most of these people are elderly and qualify for handicap parking, which has been removed.  This situation is causing undue hardship, with some finding it impossible to keep their appointments. Some are even resorting to double parking on Washington Ave and unsafely exiting their cars.  Other customers have found that they now must carry their heavy computer from the Mall parking lot to Millennium Computers for service.

This issue stems from the City Council's decision not to restore parking in the downtown lot at Alva and Bank Street where the new Police Station is being built. Businesses were promised one row of parking along the north end of this lot, adjacent to their establishments - a promise that remains unfulfilled.

The lack of adequate handicap parking for businesses on State Street and Washington Ave is causing suffering not only for patients but also for clients, employees, and businesses themselves. The current situation threatens both public safety and local commerce.

We urge the City Council of Batavia to take immediate action by restoring promised parking spaces during construction of our much needed Police Station. By doing so, they can improve accessibility for those who need it most while supporting local businesses that contribute significantly to our city's economy.

Please sign this petition if you believe in creating an accessible city that supports its residents' health needs as well as its local economy.

See HERE for prior coverage about this issue.

Bank Street in downtown Batavia to be closed Monday

By Press Release

Press Release:

Please be advised that Bank Street from Alva Place to Washington Avenue will be closed on Monday, April 29, 2024 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We recommend selecting an alternate route to minimize traffic congestion.

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank the public for their patience and cooperation as we work to improve our community.

New owner to take over, transform site of former Artemis spa in downtown Batavia

By Joanne Beck
Kate Willson
Batavia resident and business owner Kate Willson in her new place at 206 E. Main St., Batavia.
Submitted Photo

Kate Willson, owner of Meraki Beauty, has good news for those people disappointed by the closing of the downtown Batavia Artemis Spa and perhaps even better news for customers holding unredeemable gift cards for the now-defunct business that abruptly closed two weeks ago.

Willson has signed a lease for the property at 206 E. Main St. and plans to renovate the interior to correspond with a new look, feel and name of “a new spa and boutique,” she said.

“This was a way for us to kind of expand our services. So we're looking to remodel the Artemis space and give it a fresh face. We're doing a full remodel to the inside of it and rebranding it under a new name, which we aren't releasing yet,” Willson said to The Batavian Monday. “We’re hoping to open in mid-June, it could be as soon as two months. We’re taking it day by day. 

“We’re kind of giving it a facelift all throughout. So we will be enhancing the treatment rooms and really making them more state-of-the-art. I personally have a passion for the industry and have been to all the spas around, so I feel like I have some great new ideas that we're going to incorporate into the space.”

She said that hair services would remain at Meraki Beauty, which is at 108 W. Main St. That will allow for all other spa services and a front-end boutique at the new site.

“We’re actually going to transform the front of the space into a boutique, so something to kind of correlate with Charles Men’s Shop, but more for the women of the community,” she said. “So we’ll have clothing, small gifting items and we’ll also be featuring small local vendors.”

She plans to also offer an apothecary with Meraki’s own Sorella skincare line, candles, and similar items.

“We're definitely excited to be able to bring in the boutique end of it and more clothing,” she said. “I feel like a lot of our husbands and boyfriends support Charles Men’s Shop, and so we're excited to be able to bring something more local for easy shopping in our community and to kind of showcase those local vendors to show the talent of the community and give them a place to showcase that.”

She said the plan is to rotate three or four of those local vendors in and out so that the offerings will change from time to time. 

Willson has owned and operated Meraki Beauty just a half mile down on West Main Street for five years and has been in the beauty business for the last 13 years. After working in other salons, she decided to branch out to create “a more welcoming space” in a hair salon that treated customers with respect and provided a pampering haven, and Meraki Beauty was born. 

According to her website, meraki means “to put love, creativity and soul into everything you do.”

In the past five years, the business has gone from just Willson to a dozen employees, she said, serving as testimony to its resilience and success. 

Willson and Social Media Manager Brianna Dioguardi agreed that the salon and spa staff's current and future teams will work hard to create “amazing services and a friendly environment” for customers and have already established a solid presence in the hair business. 

They are excited to be jumping into the spa arena, they said.

A few Artemis stylists joined Willson before the spa closed, she said, and now she is excited to bring them back into what she believes is coming full circle with a full spa experience of massage, waxing, manicures, pedicures, and facials.

She is waiting for the legal process of setting up a new business to finish before officially announcing the new shop's name, which will provide “a retail and beautiful sanctuary spa” and boutique experience while hair services will remain at Meraki Beauty. 

“We are doing a full hiring process looking to keep on some of our existing staff and opening doors to new talent. There is a full array for us to expand our services. We’re excited for that for the fact that it is going to provide a lot of new jobs, because we are going to have a full reception team. So there will always be someone in the front of the house to be there for the retail end of things,” she said. “And I do think that is going to be something that helps us take the Artemis to the next level of the spa industry and really provide the best services we can.”

She expects to hire about 15 to 20 people to transform the place into “a spa versus a salon,” she said. A large part of her excitement is taking over the business due to the former site’s “long-lived legacy of 20 years of success in our area.”

“We are very open to finding the right talent and people willing to care for people and provide the right services. Everyone will have to be licensed,” she said of the search for talented massage therapists, estheticians and nail techs. “And we are looking to add to our reception team. And I know for me, I have such a great team around me, so I’m really excited for us to kind of take it and propel it forward and just give it that love that it’s always needed.” 

Services will be by appointment only from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Speaking of services, those with unexpired gift cards from Artemis may use them for 50 percent of the value at Willson’s spa with proof of purchase or the physical gift card. 

“We want to do that as good faith, knowing that people have supported this business for so long,” Willson said. “Obviously, for me taking over the business, I haven't received any of that money, so it's definitely just something we want to do just to really pay tribute to the Artemis and what it's been and treat the consumers in our area who have really supported this and hopefully will continue to.”

For updates on the spa’s progress and/or to connect with Willson to apply for a position, go to

'Sad loss for downtown,' The Spa at Artemis apparently closed

By Joanne Beck
The Spa at Artemis
The lights may be on, but nobody's home at The Spa at Artemis in downtown Batavia as the business has apparently closed by all other appearances.
Photo by Howard Owens

After being established as a downtown staple for all things beauty for the last two decades, The Spa At Artemis has apparently closed up shop under its latest company owner Marian Pautler (Keating). 

Rumors began circulating Thursday about the salon’s closure, and The Batavian reached out to find that no one was at the site during operating hours, and the business number’s voicemail box was full. Its social media site only had a “no content” message online.

Paul Marchese, landlord for the business at 206 E. Main St., Batavia, said that “as far we know, it is closed.”

“It’s truly a sad loss for what I would consider a thriving downtown business,” he said. “We were simply the landlord for the space. We tried to work everything out with her. I have not heard anything from the owner — I have texted her several times, and the last time was March 9.”

Keating left, if that's the case, in the middle of her lease, he said. Efforts to reach Keating have been unsuccessful. A phone number listed to Pautler Keating of Caledonia had a full voicemail box and no message could be left for her to request comment.

The good news is that he hopes to have someone new in there operating a similar business by April 1. However, since it will be a new company, that may be bad news for anyone with a gift certificate from Artemis. 

Keating, then under the name Pautler, purchased the spa in June 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic had just begun and many businesses had been forced to close or drastically reduce hours and services. 

A Genesee CARES Recovery grant program helped out with a $65,000 grant in 2022, which she said at the time would enable her to grow the full-service salon.

“I have quite a big vision for what I want this business to turn into, and this is going to help propel us in that direction,” she said to The Batavian in April 2022.

She planned to make a lot of cosmetic updates, replace equipment, and bring on some new staff members, she said.

Eligibility for the grant was the addition of one full-time equivalent job for up to $25,000, two for up to $50,000, and three for up to $75,000.

Snow is here, December is coming, it must be time for Christmas in the City

By Joanne Beck
Santa in Batavia Centre
December 2022 File Photo of Christmas in the City
Photo by Howard Owens

Christmas in the City — an annual festive tradition that happens the first weekend in December — will be bringing the usual favorites of Santa Claus, hot cocoa, a parade down Main Street and cheery carolers, along with some new additions of a three-set train display and Serendipity Swing at the new Main St. 56 Theater, Pat Burk says.

Of course, the main event at Batavia City Centre runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and will offer gift-giving shoppers plenty of options with 42 vendors and 64 tables so far throughout the concourse, Burk said. (Vendors may register up to Saturday. For more information, go to bataviaplayers.)

“We have more than last year,” he said. “There will be Christmas decorations, wood designs candles, a lot of handmade stuff and Christmas-themed items. I think people are looking for places to exhibit their things, and I think people are realizing December starts this Friday.”

The Great Lakes and Attica Regional Railroad model train club will be joining the action this year. The club will have three train boards set up with various displays, including a Christmas village and town theme. 

At one end of the concourse, near Hawley’s Insurance, there will be a jolly fellow awaiting visits from kids to whisper their Christmas wishes in his ear. Yes, Santa will be there from 1 to 5 p.m.

Two groups of Batavia Players will be singing holiday favorites at downtown shops and along the streets from 1 to 5 p.m. as well, Burk said. 

That’s not all that will be happening in Downtown Batavia on Saturday. Beginning at 2 p.m., there are several activities scheduled, including: portraits and ornament crafts at Iburi Photography, cookie decorating at Eden Cafe, a Kids Zone at Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union, face painting at The Spa at Artemis, a live nativity, hot cocoa and doughnuts at EverPresent Church, letters to Santa at The Coffee Press, chili tasting at Adam Miller Toys & Bicycles, T-shirt coloring at T-Shirts Etc., sleigh rides at 6 Center St., adult tastings at The Yngodess Shop, cookies and cocoa at Releve Dancewear Boutique, Grinch at GO Art!, brass band and photo booth at Center Street Smoke House, tree lighting at Crossroads House, a scavenger hunt bingo that begins at Iburi Photography and ends at GO Art!, champagne and kisses at My Cut.

Several of the downtown shops will also have holiday specials from 2 to 6 p.m. when the parade is set to begin. 

The Business Improvement District has also borrowed an outdoor ice skating rink from Genesee County for use at the parking lot near Alva Place. Deputy Highway Superintendent Paul Osborn said that a rink can be made with just a couple of inches of water, but the temperature needs to be at least 32 degrees, so here's hoping this wintry weather will stick around for some old-fashioned outside skating.

There will also be plenty to do indoors, which he looks forward to, Burk said. 

"For us, it’s a tremendous event, the theater will be open for tours — they’ll have to enter from Main Street for theater tours. We like to see the support, we like to see people come in. I love to have all the kids here, the kids make my day. It’s a nice community event, and we have a tremendous amount of crafters and vendors that participate and help support the theater,” Burk said. “I mean, that’s the big thing. Right now, every single cent we can make is supporting our new facility and improvements we have to make here. We’re fortunate that every single show that we’ve done since we’ve ben in the new theater has been either sold out or close to it. Extremely well received, but what people don’t realize is shows cost money, so everything we can do to make sure we can solidify our season for next year, including the fundraising events and everything that happens over Christmas, is a big plus for Downtown Batavia with our theater.”

He likes the idea of having the Buffalo-based “little big band” Serendipity Swing at the outermost edges of the evening to cap off and “stretch out” a full day of festivities. The show goes on at 7:30 p.m. in Main St. 56 Theater.

Serendipity Swing is an eight-musician dance ensemble plus a female vocalist that reflects “a musical style from an era of famous dance halls, glamorous ballrooms, classy supper clubs, hot jazz joints and the most elegant of private parties,” the group’s website states.

“Our music is from the Golden Age of the American Songbook through more current favorites. Our music library, with over 400 titles, contains selections that explore and mirror the beauty of the music elements: melody, harmony and rhythm,” the site states. “It is music that is artful, fun, graceful, whimsical, listenable, danceable and enjoyable to hear. The melodies are memorable. The harmonies are soothing and rich in texture. The tempos, and rhythms, are danceable and toe-tapping.

Tickets are $20 at Batavia Players or at the door.

After the feast, get ready to 'shop small' and support Small Business Saturday

By Joanne Beck
Valle Jewlers on Jackson Street, Batavia.
Valle Jewelers on Jackson Street, Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens 

It’s that time of year when most everyone knows the drill by now: it’s feast day on Thanksgiving, followed by Black Friday deals online and at bigger box and department stores, and then there’s the day that not only supports your local community but allows for shoppers to get that personalized touch from smaller, quality businesses.

Yes, Small Business Saturday is right around the corner, and it’s such a great time of year, that Valle’s Jewelers devotes an entire week to it, Carrie Lawrence says.

“We always celebrate Small Business Saturday one week prior by doing eight giveaways and several in-store special sales,” the shop’s co-owner said. “It’s our favorite week of the year to thank our customers for shopping with us all year long.”

Lawrence said that you don't want to miss the eight giveaways this year, as “we do have some really fantastic giveaways.”

“You can just come on in, and each lady gets a ticket, and they can enter in to win all the fabulous giveaways,” she said, adding that shopping local is also important to her as a consumer. “My brother and I, and all of our staff, feel that it's incredibly important to give back to the community that has given so much to us by shopping at all of the local stores. And we kind of feed off of each other at this exciting time before the December rush by sending our customers to the other local establishments as well.”

The opportunity for giveaways will be going on through Saturday, with hours of 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 21 Jackson St., Batavia. 

A walk through the alley between Jackson and Center streets would get you to Adam Miller Toys & Bicycles at 8 Center St., which is loaded with kids’ toys, games, bikes, and accessories. One thing’s for sure, store owner John Roche said, “Small Business Saturday is for us, and not Black Friday.”

“That's totally changed to something different,” he said. “So Small Business Saturday, obviously, is for small business and is very important. It kicks off the holiday season for us.”

The store will begin its expanded holiday hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offer some special promotions, he said, including a buy two, get one free for the large jigsaw puzzles and buy one, get half off plastic model kits.

There will also be a holiday gift basket that shoppers can enter to win. Everyone will get one entry form, and then the more you purchase, the more entries you will receive. The shop also has a holiday gift certificate every year that’s priced as the year. So this year, you can purchase a $30 gift certificate for $20.23. 

Just down the street on the corner is Charles Men’s Shop at 200 E. Main St. A longtime familiar face and part owner, Don Brown, is a proponent not only of customers frequenting the men’s shop but of the bigger picture as to how keeping it local works. When you spend your money in your own community, it tends to remain right here and get reinvested, boosting the local workforce, the businesses that those people support, and the overall local economy. 

“Small Business Saturday aims to create awareness about the impact shoppers have when they buy from locally owned stores and companies year-round,” Brown said. “At least two-thirds of every dollar spent at small businesses stays within the local area, creating returns for the entire community. We encourage people to make a big impact by shopping small on Small Business Saturday.”

Brown is also an owner of Batavia Bootery at 210 E. Main St., which sells an assortment of men’s and women’s boots, slippers, shoes, sandals and other footwear accessories. The men’s shop and bootery will be selling a $100 gift certificate for $20 off as a special this weekend. 

Brown wants customers to know that Charles Men’s Shop has a tailor shop on the premises, free gift wrapping and free parking behind the store. That’s another perk of shopping in a smaller downtown such as Batavia — free parking lots, no paid garages, and accessible spots close to shops. 

He understands that people may go online to shop for certain goods such as supplements or batteries, but when it comes to specialty items, that’s where the small, customized business shines, Brown said. He is also a big believer in shopping local himself.

“I am a big fan of shopping local, and creating relationships,” he said.

Charles Men’s Shop will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and The Bootery from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Senator George Borrello will be doing his part in forging those relationships with business owners and constituents on what has become a yearly trek in Downtown Batavia followed by a trip to Wyoming County for some small business shopping. 

Borrello plans to hit up six shops in the city, browsing everything from handmade chocolates and fine jewelry to men’s clothing, comfy footwear and children’s games. Businesses are the “heart and soul of our communities,” he said, which is why he advocates for them in Albany and is a staunch supporter of them locally as much as possible.

“Independently owned businesses make our downtowns more vibrant, spur additional growth, employ our neighbors and contribute to our tax base,” Borrello said to The Batavian. “In addition, every dollar spent at a small business has a greater multiplier effect. Many local shops rely on local suppliers and services and also contribute to local charities and community organizations."

When it comes time to buy gifts for family and friends, he and his wife always shop at small businesses, he said. After all, it takes one to know — and appreciate — one.

“We are small business owners ourselves, and we want to support other entrepreneurs,” Borrello said. “But we also ‘shop small’ because that is where we are most likely to find truly unique, high-quality items that will be enjoyed long after the holidays. Big Box stores typically don’t have those one-of-a-kind gifts."

And should you feel like a bite once out and about,  there are several individually owned restaurants to choose from in Genesee County, including Eli Fish Brewing Co., 109 Main St., and T.F. Brown’s, 214 E. Main St., Batavia. 

Jewelers carrie lawrence
Carrie Lawrence, co-owner of Valle Jewelers.
Photo by Howard Owens
Valle Jewlers on Jackson Street, Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens
Valle Jewlers on Jackson Street, Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Adam Miller Toys and Bicycles on Center Street Batavia
Adam Miller Toys and Bicycles on Center Street, Batavia
Photo by Howard Owens.
Adam Miller Toys and Bicycles on Center Street Batavia
John Roche, owner of Adam Miller Toys and Bicycles, Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Adam Miller Toys and Bicycles on Center Street Batavia
Photo by Howard Owens.
Adam Miller Toys and Bicycles on Center Street Batavia
Photo by Howard Owens.
Charles Mens Shop Batavia NY
Charles Men's Shop on East Main Street, Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Charles Mens Shop Batavia NY
Orion Hiler, shop assistant at Charles Men's Shop.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Charles Mens Shop Batavia NY
Charles Mens Shop Batavia NY
Batavia Bootery Batavia NY
Don Brown and Kevin Stone, Batavia Bootery on East Main Street, Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Taking walkability to the street: finding ways to make crosswalks safer

By Joanne Beck
bank street walkability demonstration 2023
A pop-up demonstration Friday in downtown Batavia showed pedestrians and motorists alike ways to slow traffic and make crosswalks safer. 
Photo by Howard Owens

Ann Falco made a special trip to visit downtown Batavia Friday afternoon to share her many thoughts about sections of Bank Street being safe to cross -- or not.

Members of a county health committee had set up displays of potential future curbing, lights and artistic license to demonstrate ways to help slow down traffic and make crosswalks a more viable way to cross over from the east and west sides of Bank Street at three points between Main Street and Washington Avenue. 

“I came just for this,” Falco said as organizers were wrapping up their survey stations. “It’s a joy to drive down Park Road. I want to see that replicated here.”

Falco said that she didn’t want to use the crosswalk leading closest to the Senior Center, and therefore she spoke to The Batavian as organizers were on the opposite side of the street moments before it began to rain.

She had given the matter careful time and consideration, writing down a page's worth of notes about what’s been done on Park Road at the crosswalk in front of Batavia Downs Gaming. Falco appreciates the small, young trees every five to six feet along the road, the speed bumps before and after the crosswalk, yellow warning cones with reminders to “stop” when pedestrians are in the walk — three of them at the Downs — and decorative street lamps and flags, she said. 

In similar fashion, why can’t Bank Street have speed bumps, more warnings to motorists, and decorative embellishments, she wondered. She hopes that her suggestions will be taken.

Emily, who asked that her last name not be used, was pleased with the new look on Friday. She takes that crosswalk all the time to YMCA, and she liked the new, albeit temporary, setup.

“It definitely made me go slower when driving and definitely alerted me of the crosswalk,” she said. “I work at the Y, and one of the worst parts is crossing the street. Anything they can do to make it safer is a good thing.”

She was one of the 94 people that gave positive feedback during the nearly four hours the Genesee Orleans Health Department staff surveyed walkers.

GO Health workers
GO Health staff Meghan Sheridan, Emily Nojeim and Cora Young.
Photo by Joanne Beck

“Everyone loved the set-up. They said the greenery was really pretty,” Emily Nojeim said. “They want safer places to walk.”

She had ticked off 93 people by about 1:45 p.m. after beginning at 10 a.m. She and fellow staff members also asked why people chose that crosswalk over another makeshift one set up several feet north, and most people said because they parked directly across from it in the lot. 

Parked on the sidewalk at the other crosswalk, County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari had tallied up 70 pedestrians. 

“They said it was more functional, and it’s a pretty artistic crosswalk. With the bump-outs, it’s a shorter distance to walk, they said. ‘It’s about time’ we had this, and ‘this is where I used to jay-walk,’” Oltramari said. 

There were two people that said his group members were wasting their time and that people will cross wherever they want to, he said. A delivery driver suggested that they reconsider the turf with straw curbing directly across from the Senior Center, as it makes a convenient place to park the truck for deliveries, and a grassy area may not be optimal for that, he said. 

bank street walkability demonstration 2023
Felipe Oltramari, left, works the other side of Bank Street during the pop-up demonstration Friday. Pudgie's Lawn & Garden donated the use of more than 250 plants to help out with the beautification effort.
Photo by Howard Owens

So how did this all begin?
“We had a 10-week course that was funded through the Health Department. And it's to help with reducing instances of chronic disease. So the health department received this grant, it's actually funded originally from the CDC, and it goes through this not-for-profit organization. Five of us took this 10-week online course to learn how to promote walkability in our communities,” he said. “And this is kind of like our final project, we're required to do a popup demonstration somewhere. So we took an existing site design that the city had proposed for this road. And we decided to implement that with temporary materials like we got turf donated from Batavia Turf, and we got straw wattle, that's got straw inside to kind of show where the curbs are. And we got lighting, to show where the new street lighting would be, and planters, to sort of present where some of the things like trees might be, and the new curb extensions. It helps promote walkability but makes it safer to walk across Bank Street and more enjoyable, also, to walk down on the sidewalk.

“So hopefully, some of the comments and the feedback that we get as a result of doing this pop-up will inform the decision makers at the city that will finalize the design for the street when it gets finally redone in a year or two.”

There’s an expected surge in traffic on Bank Street with the impending new police facility right on Bank and Alva in the next year or two, and the Healthy Living campus on the opposite side behind where the current YMCA is now to be completed by the end of 2024. City officials have an infrastructure project planned to coincide with the developments, at which time there would also be upgrades to the streetscape layout. 

Given that this was a county-led project, why was it only implemented on Bank Street?
“We needed to come up with this because walkable places are usually located in villages or cities. The county really doesn't have jurisdiction over those roads. We don't have anything as a county that we could implement on a road like this. So it was just an opportunity that we had,” he said. “So if the village or another village or hamlet or something like that wants to do something like this before they finalize their final street design, we can sort of roll this up and do it in a different community. So that's part of the process; the grant setup was basically to create a committee that could serve to be as kind of informed decision makers along in other parts of the county that might have designed something that will have other communities to kind of take advantage of their knowledge.”

So what’s the next step?
“So we have to create a report. We'll present that to the city as well, just as a document for them to review. And then, hopefully, they'll take that into consideration as to the design of this road,” he said. “And then, like I said, hopefully, other communities take advantage of the knowledge that our team has gained through going through this process, and maybe we can implement this somewhere else in the county.”

bank street walkability demonstration 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.
bank street walkability demonstration 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.
bank street walkability demonstration 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.
bank street walkability demonstration 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.
bank street walkability demonstration 2023
Photo by Howard Owens.
bank street walkability demonstration 2023
Aerial photo courtesy Genesee County.
bank street walkability demonstration 2023
Aerial photo courtesy Genesee County.

Six-week countdown until the first BID Cider Walk kicks off summer

By Joanne Beck
febrewary 2023
File photo of the 2023 Febrewary beer walk by Steve Ognibene.

Somewhere between February’s beer walk and October’s assortment of wines, the Business Improvement District skipped right over a summer beverage for Batavia’s downtown walking events.

That’s now been resolved, says Shannon Maute, BID executive director, with the first-ever Cider Walk.

“It’s from 4 to 8 p.m. June 17, and 18 downtown businesses are participating,” Maute said. “Only 300 tickets are being sold. Top cideries will be pouring.”

Similar to Febrewary’s beer walk and the Fall Wine Walk, this one will feature 18 hard cider tastings at different stops throughout downtown locations.

New York State cideries will be featured, Maute said, and participants can sample “an amazing assortment of ciders, snacks and specials” during the four-hour event.

Tickets are $30 each, and there will be a discounted price of $10 for designated drivers. All participants must be at least 21 years of age.

“This walk will not disappoint,” she said.

As with each of these walks, she encourages folks to buy their tickets early as they tend to sell out before the event date. 

To get yours, go to BID Cider Walk.

Tickets still available for Febrewary this Saturday

By Joanne Beck


There are still some tickets remaining for the 2023 Febrewary beer walk Saturday in downtown Batavia, so grab your coat and gloves and head out for a cold one. 

General admission tickets are $30 and include a collectible snifter glass, snacks along the way, raffles and giveaways, and tastings from 5 to 8 p.m. VIP tickets are $40 and include all of the regular features plus an extra hour, from 4 to 8 p.m., an exclusive tasting and a food station.

Designated drivers will be able to partake of the specials, raffles, snacks and non-alcoholic tastings for $10.

Tickets may be purchased at Event Brite, and there will be a limited number of paper tickets available at Adam Miller Toy & Bicycle shop on Center Street and Yngodess on Main Street, Batavia. They will also be available for purchase on Saturday. For more information, go to BID Febrewary

City's P&DC approves market rate apartments, exterior improvements for downtown Batavia

By Joanne Beck


There was nary a peep of concern or complaint from the public about plans for upper-level apartments at 97 Main St. in downtown Batavia during a public hearing Tuesday evening at City Hall.

That didn’t really surprise applicants Victor Gautieri of VJ Gautieri Constructors and Stephen Fitzmaurice of Hunt Property Solutions. After all, the plan falls in line with what other business owners have done already to transform their properties lining Main and Jackson streets — operating shops, restaurants, breweries and the like downstairs while renovating upper floors for living space.

Members of the city’s Planning and Development Committee, however, had a few questions and areas of concern.

Member Ed Flynn asked for clarification about a window that looked on a site plan to be the size of a door. It wasn’t a door but, in fact, a window, Gautieri said.

Plans were to replace some of the windows with double-hung versions so that they could open for better ventilation; to add a terrace at roof level with a 42-inch-high railing leading to that terrace; an exterior dumbwaiter to haul up groceries or similar bulky items from the alley; and a tote enclosure for trash and recycling storage, he said.

All materials used would be in keeping with existing colors and aesthetics, he said. Chairman Duane Preston asked if anyone could access the dumbwaiter, and there will be a lock on it solely for tenants’ use, Gautieri said.

“It’s very small … for a few grocery bags. There’s a lockable door,” he said.

Members liked the look of the rooftop terrace, but had concerns about the area’s wind: would furniture be weighted down or otherwise secured? It would most likely be secured, Gautieri said, as he and Fitzmaurice then suggested that perhaps tenants could bring their own chairs up there with them and then bring them back downstairs.

They also discussed whether the terrace could be seen from street level, and Gautieri said not from Jackson or Main streets, though probably from a distance as people were farther away. Other questions confirmed that the units would be one-bedroom each, the remaining windows would be left intact, a replacement side door would be a dark bronze and augmented with an awning, and the integrity of the historic architecture would stand.

Member Rebecca Cohen was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough totes — two for trash and two for recycling — for four apartments.

“I feel like with tenants in four units, you're gonna end up with garbage bags sitting in front of it on garbage night,” she said.

Gautieri conducted his own informal study, he said, and feels confident in his conclusion.

“We have 10 apartments, three two-bedroom and seven one-bedroom apartments. And we have a very small, the smallest you can get, Dumpster. And that is filled to a quarter or a third. We're not counting people who throw stuff in there from outside the apartments, but we're lucky the only time that ever got any more than that was really around Christmas time. So that was my recommendation with Steve, and I tried to give him some information on what was happening with our property,” Gautieri said, as Fitzmaurice shared his perspective. “Among other properties that we manage, we just took over a condominium on the west side of Buffalo. And we went through the same thing. We got everybody a full-size trash bin and a recycling bin. And after about two months of that, people said, can you get rid of half of them? Because they were just empty and bulky and so on and so forth. So that's what we did. So my experience is the same as Victor’s. The apartments just don't seem to generate a whole lot of trash."

Fitzmaurice added that they can always add more totes later if necessary.

“I hate to see the city get a problem of pest control, now that we're building apartments downtown,” Cohen said.

Concerns aside, all members — Cohen, Preston, Flynn, David Beatty and Derek Geib — approved the request for a special use permit. That was needed to change the current status of Commercial zone C-3 to Residential R-2. A start date was listed on the application as Feb. 1; however, Gautieri said that a beginning and ending date will depend on when final pricing comes in and when National Grid and National Fuel can be arranged for setup.

“Let’s say we begin on March 1, then count five months from then,” he said.

The apartments will be set at market rate, which would be approximately $1,500 per month, but that’s not set in stone at this point, he and Fitzmaurice said.


In other committee action, a project by owner Brad Trzecieski to make exterior alterations to a mixed-use building at 327 Ellicott St., Batavia, was also approved. The property has a commercial use in the front and residential in the rear of the site.

Top Photo of Victor Gautieri, left, and Stephen Fitzmaurice representing an apartment project at 97 Main St., Batavia, during a city Planning and Development Committee meeting Tuesday at City Hall, by Joanne Beck. Photo above, 327 Ellicott St., Batavia, gets approval for exterior renovations during the committee meeting. Photo by Howard Owens.

Christmas in the City brings holiday cheer to downtown Batavia

By Joanne Beck


Carter Ianiro, 2, shares some special time with Santa Claus Saturday at Santa's Village in Batavia City Centre. 

Downtown Batavia was bustling with visitors and shoppers during the annual Christmas in the City Saturday at Batavia City Centre and along downtown streets. Hosted by the Business Improvement District, this year's indoor activities featured Santa's Village, with a workshop, carolers, dancers, and the jolly ol' elf himself, Santa Claus.

As with any successful event, planning and hands-on help make it happen. And Christmas in the City is no exception.

“We spent a week here decorating and setting up the chairs for people,” BID Executive Director Shannon Maute said. “And there’s face painting, cookie decorating, ornament making, and we’re trying to get people to the horse and buggy from 3 to 6, and then it will swing by and pick up Santa and me for the parade.”

Morning long rain slowed down by the afternoon, which should make for a drier horse and buggy ride up to 6 p.m. That will take off from Center Street Smokehouse on Center Street, and tickets may be purchased at Adam Miller Toy & Bike shop.

Batavia City Centre was filled with kids playing games, people shopping the many vendor items, eating and drinking, and, of course, some whispering in Santa’s ear.

“I am very excited about the turnout. I thought it would be busy but didn’t know it was going to be this busy,” said Maute, aka Santa’s elf. “Most of the kids are saying they just want to have a happy Christmas, they’re not even asking for gifts. This is great, it’s not great weather out, so I’m glad we had a backup. Hopefully, the wind calms down for the parade. It has been a really nice turnout, with lots to do, we have a kid's zone where kids could play with the toys.

“And having it in this space really brings everyone together, and they’re having a really great time,” she said.

The parade kicks off at 6 p.m. and runs from Jefferson Avenue to Summit Street along Main Street.


BID Executive Director Shannon Maute, aka Santa's elf.










Christmas in the City draws plenty of visitors to Batavia City Centre Saturday for some shopping, games, face painting, woodwork crafts, musical entertainment, a live nativity and Santa Claus. The vendor fair goes to 8 p.m. Photos by Howard Owens.

This year's BID Wine Walk brings the 'dead' to life

By Press Release

Press Release

The BID Wine Walk Committee announces this year’s event which will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 1, 2022. Only 600 tickets are available for this year’s event. Tickets may be purchased online, or at YN Godess, Adam Miller and Empire Hemp.

General Admission tickets are $30, VIP $40 and DD tickets for $10. All VIP ticket holders get into event 1 hour
early at 4 PM, a special gift, raffle tickets and more! All ticket holders will enjoy a tasting of several Wines and Ciders at over 23 local businesses throughout our Downtown. This year’s theme is Dead Celebrity!

For more information contact the Batavia Business Improvement District at 585-344-0900 or Shannon Maute at

Mangia! was the theme of Italian Fest, with food, shopping, fun offerings

By Joanne Beck


You could say that Don Antinore took his job seriously Saturday on School Street in Batavia.

He was one of three volunteer judges for the first-ever Italian Fest sauce contest. Antinore, Jay Steinbrenner and Paul Figlow carefully tasted, observed, and dripped each sauce off the spoon during their deliberations of the top three winners.

After they reviewed each type and style of sauce, the judges were ready with their selections. That is after they conferred with one another for several minutes. The Batavian remarked how soberly they were approaching the task.

Antinore, whose business card lists him as an American Academy of Chef's Culinary Hall of Famer, and an educator and coach for Hospitality Solutions, said they were giving the job due diligence for the eight contestants.


“We're doing this because these people took the time to make these sauces,” he said.

The contestants were mostly made up of home chefs with family recipes. The contest was a first for Stephanee Surabian of Batavia. She didn’t exactly have a choice in entering, she said.

“My kids decided to push me toward it,” she said, watching her three pots of varied sauces. “They think mom’s is the best.”

She had a pesto alla trapanese, made with tomatoes and freshly ground almonds; fra diavolo, whose name translates to the devil’s mouth, and includes a spicy concoction with red pepper and red chili flakes; and a parma rosa, featuring a creamy base of tomatoes with melted cheese.

Lucie Griffis of Le Roy entered her Nanny’s Italian sauce, made with canned tomatoes, sausage, pork, homemade meatballs and fresh basil. The secret to a good sauce? “Not burning your garlic and onion at the start,” she said, “is key.”

To her left was Ken Kline from Oakfield. His recipe is cooked down from fresh roma tomatoes for three days on low heat, he said. He uses fresh parsley, oregano, basil, Italian sausage, homemade meatballs, stew beef and hard-boiled eggs.

“It’s thick and not runny,” he said. “You gotta love the sauce, you gotta love the family recipe.”

The recipe comes out during special occasions and, at times, just when the mood strikes him and his family, Kline said. Handed down from great-grandma from Palermo, Sicily, it’s a favorite that depends heavily on fresh roma tomatoes, he said.

Home chef, but with a background of working in the family restaurant in Denver, Colo., Sam Prinzi of Batavia believed in slow-cooking his ingredients, many of which are home-grown in his Batavia yard.

“Slow cooking, good seasoning and cooking it down,” are keys to a winning sauce, he said. He spent 90 minutes preparing everything, and then letting it cook on low for three to four hours.

He had a display of fresh ingredients on his table: green peppers, tomatoes and garlic, with some potential accompaniments of crunchy breadsticks, a small loaf of bread and pasta.

The recipe came from his grandparents in Sicily, both who have passed away, leaving their grandson to take up the spoon and continue on with the family tradition.

Prinzi liked the event, and plans to come back next year, he said.

“They’ve got great potential if they just keep adding to it,” he said. “I think this is great for the community.”

The contest was put on a brief hold as former county manager Jay Gsell was making his way downtown with his big pot of sauce from yet another family recipe.

His wife Ann Marie and her mother, Fannie Varone, are die-hard Italians with a recipe to be proud of, he said. So proud, in fact, that his mom-in-law threatened to put the “evil eye” on him if he didn’t learn the concoction before moving with his wife out of state.

“It’s a staple, in a big pot,” he said. “We have it for one or two meals, and then freeze the rest. We call it gravy, not sauce.”

After all of the tastings and whispering amongst the three judges, it was time for the big announcement. But first, Antinore offered some tips for authentic Italian sauce: oregano doesn’t belong in an Italian kitchen, he said, suggesting instead to use rosemary; don’t use too much spice as to take away from the overall taste; and consider how much oil you use, and its source (cooking meat in the sauce, for example); and herbs are not spices, he said.

Third place went to Griffis, second to Gsell and first prize of $100 and an engraved wooden spoon went to Prinzi.

Photos by Howard Owens





Meanwhile, The Formula entertained with classic Italian songs to a mixed audience of standing and seated spectators, while others gravitated to the beer and wine tent or shopped vendors along Jackson Street.

The event was hosted by Batavia's Business Improvement District. BID Executive Director Shannon Maute said that, despite some competition from other events on the same day, "I felt it went pretty well." It drew more than 1,000 people, she said, and vendors "were happy and said they would love to come back next year."

Maute stressed the short lead time of having about four months to plan and pull this event together, when it typically takes a year to organize one. She was thankful to have the support that she had for the festival, she said.

"Events are a huge undertaking, and I am grateful for all the help and support from City Council, the city manager, my board, committee members and volunteers," she said. "I was very excited to bring this event to downtown. It was the first year, and we have some adjusting to do, and hope to grow it every year." 






Top photo: Judges Don Antinore, left, Jay Steinbrenner and Paul Figlow make their way through eight sauces to find the top three winners at Saturday's Italian Fest in downtown Batavia; Sam Prinzi won first place and the commemorative wooden spoon; Jay Gsell, second place, congratulates third and first place winners, Lucie Griffis and Sam Prinzi; visitors to the event on School, Center and Jackson streets.

Giving Italian Fest a little 'jerk'

By Joanne Beck


Danielle Lumpkin was pleased with her booth on Jackson Street at Saturday’s Italian Festival in downtown Batavia.

Known as Mama Dee’z Kitchen, her family-run catering business sold out a few times of the featured rasta pasta, she said. Made with a flavorful spice-laced jerk chicken and a creamy, white Alfredo sauce, it seemed to be a hit at the Italian-themed event downtown.

Lumpkin has been catering for the last three years, and hopes to move into some space at Eli Fish Brewing Company on Main Street. The smaller “incubator-style” space would help the Batavia chef to move her company forward until she finds a larger spot, she said.

She is known for her sauces, she said, especially her chicken wings with homemade sauce. Lumpkin plans to also participate in a south side block party next month.  Her specialties are soul food and Caribbean flavors. She boasts “the best mac ’n’ cheese in town,” and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner items, from sauce-glazed barbecued chicken and ribs, pulled pork and taco dip, to jerk chicken, fish frys, glazed salmon, potato salad and seafood Alfredo sauce with pasta.


“I’ve been cooking for more than 10 years,” she said. “And I’ve had the LLC for three years. This is something that Batavia needs; there’s no home-cooked, southern comfort food that you can find like at Mama Dee’z.”

She thought this first-time event was a good first experience, with a nice turnout, she said.

“I look forward to it being bigger next year,” she said.

She encouraged folks to check out her Facebook site for catering options. Mama Dee’z was one of several food and craft vendors selling their wares. Many people walked around checking out items such as cigars, jewelry, artwork, assorted pastas and pizza, and sweet dessert treats.

The beer and wine tent had opened at 5 p.m. and was drawing an increasing crowd in Jackson Square as kids continued to play various games on School and Center streets and in the Square.

Photos: Danielle Lumpkin, owner of Mama Dee'z Kitchen, serves up some rasta pasta during Saturday's Italian Festival in Batavia. Photos by Joanne Beck. 

Dinner, dancing ... and an overnight stay may be in downtown Batavia's future

By Joanne Beck


If Yong Guang Ye gets his wish, the California businessman will more than double his investment at 40 Batavia City Centre.

Better known as the former JC Penney store in downtown Batavia, the property was purchased by Ye in February 2021. The price tag was $500,000. He has asked his realtor, Jonathan Maurer of Pyramid Brokerage Co. in Fairport, to list the site for sale at a cool $1.3 million.

Maurer has spoken with Genesee County Chamber of Commerce President Eric Fix and Business Improvement District Executive Director Shannon Maute about prospects for the site.

“I’m trying to understand what the community would want,” Maurer said Monday to The Batavian. “A hotel would be amazing … we’re pursuing a hotel; we don’t have any strong leads yet, it’s too soon to tell. The priority is to find the best use for the space.”

The selling price is not out of range given the open floor space, “which I think is a value, given the size of the building,” he said, plus a roof repair in progress.

The buyer is a commercial real estate developer, and does not own any other property in New York State, Maurer said.

Based on his talks with the county and downtown representatives, the first goal would be to renovate it for an event space, with the second goal being a downtown hotel. It has been “difficult to find the right user” so far, he said, due to the site’s limited visibility and entrance/exit set-up.

BID Executive Director Shannon Maute said she could easily see a boutiquey micro-hotel situated within the 38,584 square-foot building. This area is lacking a venue for conferences and special events, she said, and the property is zoned for all of that, including building on two additional floors.

It has often been said that Batavia is a perfect location for being in between Buffalo and Rochester, and Maute would like to capitalize on that. "If you had family in Buffalo and Rochester, Batavia would be the perfect place to have a wedding or an event," she said.

“There definitely is a need for that,” she said Monday. “We’re still open to any ideas, but the goal is for (Maurer) to have an idea of what the need is. We try to work closely together, and Eric agreed on what should and should not go in there. The city would have to weigh in on an idea.”

She would not elaborate on what they felt should not go into the site.

Fix was not available for comment. 

Previously: Vacant Penney building purchased by West Coast businessman

Photo by Howard Owens

Ghost Riders continue Friday night series at Jackson Square

By Steve Ognibene


With many music traditions in Batavia, the Ghost Riders continue playing over 30-plus years and highlighted last evening's Jackson Square concert series with a packed crowd. Mild Bill Pitcher and Wild Bill McDonald founded the band decades ago and would play 100 plus concerts from May to August. 

Since COVID-19 came present in 2020, they cut it down to about a dozen gigs in the summer months and traveling back and forth to Florida has increased for some members also. 

For the last eight years, Bill and Kay McDonald continued in the winter months as the "Old Hippies." With some changes, the duo decided this summer to perform a home-to-home concert series. Wild Bill said, they plan two mini jam series on Aug. 8th and Sept. 12th in Jackson Square, and Aug. 22 in Elba.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.










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