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Ellicott Street

Jackson Street water project resuming Monday

By Press Release

Press Release:

Please be advised that construction on the Jackson Street Water project will resume on Monday, April 1, with the installation of interconnections on Ellicott Street. 

Loss of water should be expected from Main Street to Liberty Street and possible surrounding areas, depending on valve closures needed. 

If discolored water occurs when water pressure is regained, please avoid doing laundry or cooking until the water runs clear.

We apologize for any inconvenience, and the public’s patience is greatly appreciated.

DOT issues statement on demolition of Louie's Barber Shop

By Howard B. Owens
louis barbershop on route 63

After reporting on the demolition underway at 229 Ellicott Street, the former Louie's Barber Shop, in Batavia, The Batavian sought more information about the history of the right of way, the Department of Transportation's agreement with the shop's last owner, and the DOT's plans for the parcel.

We received the following statement:

“The New York State Department of Transportation is demolishing a vacant structure located within our State Route 63 right-of-way in the City of  Batavia that had previously housed Louie’s Barber Shop. The decision to demolish the structure — which has been located in our right-of-way since the 1970s — was made after the building’s previous operator communicated his plans to retire and terminate his occupancy. NYSDOT had no further use for the structure and will pave the property at a later date. NYSDOT’s agreement with the nearby Pok-A-Dot restaurant remains unchanged.”

Photos by Howard Owens.

louis barbershop on route 63

Photo: DOT begins dismantling Louie's Barber Shop building on Ellicott Street

By Howard B. Owens
louis barbershop on route 63
Photo by Howard Owens

Work crews and contractors for the NYS Department of Transportation began dismantling the former Louie's Barber Shop at 229 Ellicott Street (Route 63) today.

The building sits on a state highway right of way, and the state allowed the barber shop to continue operation so long as owner Rich Lamkin continued remained active in the business. Lamkin retired earlier this year.  The barber shop was originally owned by Louie Fanara.

A portion of the Pok-A-Dot is also on the state's right of way, and there is an agreement in place between the business and the DOT to allow the restaurant to occupy that space.

Looking for a shopper's paradise of a little bit of everything? Paradise Home Vintage & Gift opens Thursday

By Joanne Beck
Paradise Home with Macy and Linda
Macy Paradise Jr. and Linda Pezzimenti get ready to launch their new shop, Paradise Home Vintage & Gift, Thursday at 332 Ellicott St., Batavia. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Walk into Paradise Home Vintage & Gift, and it might seem a bit of an eclectic mash-up of stuff, from furniture, knick-knacks and wall decorations to dolls, toys, baskets, jewelry and kitschy novelty goods.

And, actually, that’s exactly what it is. Only with a touch of vintage, Victorian, retro, mid-century modern, Americana, primitive, antique and, most definitely, intriguing eras and styles to make shoppers want to pause for a second and maybe third look around. They'll get that chance with a grand opening this Thursday at 332 Ellicott St., Batavia.

Owner Macy Paradise Jr. and his partner and shop manager Linda Pezzimenti call the various sections “vignettes” throughout the 1,000-square-foot space.

“So it's furniture, and it's just anything that you could put in your house. As well as fun things, I don't expect to sell a lot of old toys, but it’s, they walk in and go, ‘I remember that game.’ You know, to bring back a little piece of memory. I'm going to order some candy cigarettes, bubble gum cigars, candy sticks; we'll have a little area for that stuff,” Pezzimenti said during an interview with The Batavian. “And then the jewelry is all brand new as well. I've been selling jewelry for years. And it's an assortment, it's stuff you can wear to work, and it's also stuff that's a little wild and funky.”

Paradise Home, jewelry
Photo by Joanne Beck.

Maybe folks won’t want the decorative sack of potatoes or old-fashioned country store-themed items under the General Merchandise sign, including a Charles Chips can, stacks of retro cups and saucers, novelty ceramic vegetable containers, an oversized plastic ketchup bottle, painted pottery beverage pitchers, an ice cream cone sign that reads Have a Sweet Day, a collection of mugs with assorted sayings, and a wooden sign with a Batavia-based sentiment  about how far away we roam, “our hearts make the journey but will always be at home.”

But they may smile as they pause to look at everything on the way to the next nook, she said.

Macy Paradise Jr.
Macy Paradise Jr. of Batavia is the business owner. Photo by Joanne Beck.

That vignette is alongside a man cave in progress, with beer signs, bottle openers, racing car items, and other traditionally male-oriented objects, while other sections of the shop offer niches for pet lovers — assorted ceramic dog planters, wall signs, hand towels, placards, mugs; and home decorators will find dozens of items including tin hearts, colored vases, paintings, stemmed glasses, steamer trunks, lamps, and anything that’s not cookie cutter, Pezzimenti said.

“Walmart and Target have the basics. But if you buy something like that and put it in your house, everybody knows where you bought it. But you know, it's not going to be something that's at Walmart. And then there's only one of those for the whole city,” she said, adding that inventory will be refreshed on a regular basis. “I think it's important that things change, you know, if a certain shelf just isn't doing anything, then it's gotta go. And I don't care if I pack it in a box and bring out a whole new something else. I'll just take it out of here. Because this isn't doing anybody any good to see the same thing, and we’ve got the inventory to do it. 

"We have plenty, and I shop every day. I'm not kidding. So I mean, like right now, there is a space over there on the very top. Yeah, and it's making my skin crawl, like, okay, well, how is there an empty space? I don't like that. So my one of my biggest concerns is what happens if a whole bunch of shoppers comes in on a Wednesday, Thursday, and there's empty spaces, like I have to get those filled before my Friday, Saturday, because, it's just wrong, just an empty spot.”

Linda Pezzimenti, Paradise Home
Linda Pezzimenti of Batavia shows one of the hot items she has at the shop, tin hearts. Photo by Joanne Beck.

When she says she shops every day, that’s not hyperbole. Pezzimenti has fine-tuned the art of shopping flea markets, garage sales, and auctions, and networking with people to know when large-scale clearance sales are coming up. For example, she and Paradise were going to the biggest flea market in New York State this past week, armed with his trailer to bring back their cache. They had another event on the books for Monday in Ohio.

Is there ever a concern that enough is enough, or maybe even too much? Not yet, they both agreed. All of the purchases go into a designated storage, and then will go into the shop. And Pezzimenti has worked hard to clean, itemize, tag and log everything to keep track of it for the business, she said.

“I’ve been doing retail stores since my 40s, and I’m 65,” she said. “I think the first time I did it, it was all new stuff, it was all things you buy wholesale, and you just buy to resell. But it’s more interesting when you have props as risers and tables underneath that have a little character and charm; they’re also cheaper than going out and buying a brand-new table.

"So you start doing that kind of thing, and then everybody wants to buy your props. That always happens. So now the props are for sale. So you have to price it such that people are dying to do that, which makes them want to come back.”

Eventually, she kept buying not only merchandise, but those props, and items kept stockpiling, which meant renting storage — two storage units, a four-car garage, two-car garage and a 16-foot trailer. They finally cleared out the storage to fill up the store and have no plans to stop replenishing supply.

Paradise Home
Photo by Joanne Beck.

Everything in the shop is priced to sell, Pezzimenti said, and she and Paradise are excited to see the public’s response. The shop isn’t their sole livelihood, but yet it’s something they want to be a success, especially with fewer retailers around, Paradise said. There aren’t as many places to shop these days, he said.

They will take requests to watch out for certain items and plan to post photos online to pique customers’ interest in new arrivals at the shop. Pezzimenti has drafted a list of definitions to help people clarify the differences between:

  • Retro — objects with a nod to the past but are more recently made.
  • Vintage — which is an item created by hand or machine, approximately 40 or more years ago.
  • Victorian — created during the reign of Queen Victoria between 1837 and 1901.
  • Antiques — generally considered to be 100 or more years old.

As for Paradise Home Vintage & Gift? There’s a “nice mix of different eras,” Paradise said, from  100+ years old to make 20 years ago or even more recently. There are items that would be perfect for someone just moving into an apartment or for an established home.

“I have a very good eye,” she said. “I’ve done all the hunting for you.”

The shop is highlighted by the big yellow awning on Ellicott Street, which used to be Joe’s Trophy shop. A grand opening special of 20 percent will run from Thursday to Saturday, with both a ribbon-cutting at 1 p.m. and a prize drawing of a $50 gift certificate on Thursday.

Hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call 585-536-7793 or email

paradise home dog towels
Photo by Joanne Beck.

Out of work because of COVID, mother and daughter become entrepreneurial team

By Howard B. Owens

For a few small businesses, COVID-19 has meant the end of the line. The owners just weren't able to outlast coronavirus pandemic restrictions and people staying home. For Christine and Cassandra Wroblewski, a mother and daughter team (Cassandra pictured), the lack of income options after losing their jobs meant it was time to start a business.

Together, they've opened the Junk Drawer at 238 Ellicott St. Batavia.

"I bought my first pallet (of merchandise) and flipped it and made double my money (selling on eBay)," Christine said. "Then I bought another one. Then my house began to look like a hoarder's.  (Cassandra) wasn't working so I was like, 'You want to open a store?' and this place was available. This was all because of COVID."

Cassandra agrees, starting their own business together seemed like the obvious thing to do.

"Everything was just cluttering her house up and she's like, 'Hey, open up the store!' Cassandra said. "I'm like, 'OK, it's better than being at home.' "

The store specializes in selling remainders -- items that were overstock for some other store and are available wholesale at very low prices.  

A customer in the store yesterday afternoon who was loading up her basket on shampoos, soaps and lotions, said the Junk Drawer has become her place to go because the prices are so much lower than other discount stores in the city. 

Cassandra is an artist and a crafter, so items she and her mother-in-law crochet along with her paintings are also for sale in the store.

"We have beauty products; we have toys; we have anything you can imagine and our inventory is always changing," Cassandra said.

Photo: Chalk flowers on Ellicott Street

By Howard B. Owens

Near the end of a hot day, Cassandra Wroblewski was bored so she decided to draw flowers on the sidewalk outside her apartment on Ellicott Street in Batavia.

Wroblewski said she is a crafter and an artist who is busy every day with her creations but decided she needed to go outside to be creative for a change.

Arrest made in incident Monday night on Ellicott Street

By Howard B. Owens

Police have yet to locate a person who was reportedly stabbed during an incident Monday night at 337 Ellicott St., Batavia; there has, however, been an arrest related to the case.

Rashawn L. Gosier, 40, of Shady Lane, Batavia, is charged with attempted assault, 3rd.

Chief Shawn Heubusch said Gosier is accused of attempting to assault another person at the same address during the same incident.

He said the police have only limited information on the stabbing victim, so have not been able to locate him.

Police responded to 337 Ellicott St. at 11:40 p.m. Monday to investigate a report of a fight. 

A subject, believed to be Gosier, fled the scene, where police located a stabbing victim and called for an ambulance. Officers then pursued the fleeing subject down Swan Street to the area of the railroad tracks.

While officers were busy trying to apprehend the person who fled, the stabbing victim left the scene.

Gosier, matching the description of the fleeing subject, was located a short time later in the basement of the incident location and he crawled out of a basement window (bottom photo).

He was taken into custody without further incident. After being taken to headquarters he was issued an appearance ticket on the attempted assault charge and ordered to appear in City Court at 1 p.m., Jan. 1.

If anybody has information that can assist in the investigation, they are asked to call Batavia PD at (585) 345-6350 or the confidential tip line at (585) 345-6370.

Ellicott Street partially closed this afternoon by milk product spill

By Howard B. Owens

A tanker from O-AT-KA Milk Products Cooperative Inc. started leaking as it drove down Ellicott Street, west of Jackson Avenue, at about 3 p.m. and as a result, the westbound lanes of Ellicott, between Jackson and Court, have been closed since.

The cleanup work is nearly done and the roadway should reopen shortly.

The tanker was carrying production waste product, which can be used by farmers for dairy feed or spread on crop fields.

Traffic signal changes at Main and Ellicott tying up traffic through the middle of Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

Work crews today are changing the traffic signal configuration at Main and Ellicott for eastbound traffic, which is creating traffic jams in both the eastbound and westbound lanes of Route 5 and Route 63. Traffic is backing up for blocks at a time.

A worker said two sets of lights over Main Street's eastbound lane are being reconfigured, a new light pole with a set of lights on it has been set up for eastbound/southbound traffic turning onto Ellicott Street, and a new traffic control box is being installed.

Local officials trying to spur fast action from ESD on funding for Ellicott Station

By Howard B. Owens

When it comes to redeveloping the Santy and Della Penna properties on Ellicott Street in Batavia, local officials are ready to go, but on the Empire State Development's map of projects, the project is somewhere five years down the road.

To help move things along, Julia Pacatte, economic coordinator for the Batavia Development Corp., is seeking support from the County Legislature and the City School District, both economic partners in the project, to pass resolutions asking ESD to speed up the process.

"This is an affirmation that the local community is ready to support the project and asking the state to move more quickly than in the next five years," Pacatte said. "We’re ready to go now."

Most of the money for the $17 million Ellicott Station Project is coming from private investment, with a portion of financial support coming from local tax abatements. But officials are also looking for ESD to follow through on its commitment of $2.4 million in grants to pay for environmental cleanup of the properties.

The property qualifies for assistance under state programs because: of the environmental remediation required; the adaptive reuse of property that was developed but fell into disuse; and the economic struggles of the census tract the property is in, with 30 percent of the residents at the poverty level or lower and an unemployment rate of 7 percent. 

The project is expected to produce 60 temporary jobs and 90 permanent jobs.

There are already tenants lined up for office space and the entertainment and restaurant space within the project, and ensuring those potential tenants stay on the hook is one reason for trying to get a faster response from ESD.

The county's Public Service Committee approved the resolution unanimously and the school board will be asked to act on it tonight.

Foxprowl Collectables celebrates five years in business

By Howard B. Owens

Brian Sandstorm and his son Luke pose for a picture with professional wrestler Eric Young today at the five-year anniversary celebration of Foxprowl Collectables on Ellicott Street.

In five years, owner Bill Hume has grown the inventory, the variety and the floor space of his store.

When I remarked, "you've come a long way," he said, "You know, passion and hard work. It's what I love."

In the seven-year history of The Batavian, this is the first time we've covered both the opening of a new business and its fifth anniversary.

Below, Hume with Young and Matt Troisi, owner of Limited Edition Collectables, who help Hume secure Young's appearance at Foxprowl today.

A look at the bikeability of Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

Marie doesn't hold back when asked about biking in Batavia.

"It sucks," she said during a brief conversation outside of City Centre.

"I lived in New York City and I felt safer riding there than I do in Batavia," said Marie, who didn't want to give her full name (and Marie is her middle name), because she feared friends wouldn't like her talking poorly about their hometown.

Marie's opinion of the bikeability of Batavia is not universal, but in our conversation she struck a common theme among local bike riders we spoke to over the past few days. There's a lot of displeasure with state of things and a recognition that with a little effort, Batavia could become more bike friendly.

Tony Mancuso, perhaps Batavia's most ubiquitous bike rider when the days are warm and dry, said he certainly can't describe Batavia as a great place to tool about on two, self-powered wheels.

"I ride my bike around town constantly," Mancuso said. "The people are friendly, but Batavia is not bike friendly."

By that, Mancuso means the roadways aren't set up well for bike riders, there are no bike racks and there aren't enough bicyclists to help raise the awareness of car drivers.

"There are few places in Western New York that you would call bike friendly," Mancuso said.

It's not like Western cities such as San Diego and Denver, or even Nashville, where most streets are shared by cars and bikes with little conflict.

John Roche, owner of Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle, and obviously an avid rider himself, thinks the idea of sharing the roadway with bike riders is a common complaint of bikers.

"So many people yell at bike riders to get out of the road, but that's where they're supposed to be," Roche said.

Marie said she's been hit by a car in Batavia.

Another rider who said her name is Krystal, but didn't want to give her full name, said Batavia is just all right for bike riders.

She rides to-and-from work every day, she said, up and down West Main Street. 

"Drivers don't pay attention and they hit somebody and just don't care," Krystal said. "I've heard of several bike accidents."

Marie and Krystal both believe Batavia should be bike friendly because so many people locally don't ride just because it's fun or to get fit, but because it's an economic necessity. They can't afford cars, but still want to work and be able to get there quickly and safely.

But not everybody thinks Batavia is hostile to bike riders.

Kevin DeFelice, who rides professionally as a police officer and personally as an enthusiast, said he's never really encountered any problems while peddle-pushing around the city.

"I bike a lot professionally and personally and I'd say it's a bicycle-friendly city," DeFelice said.

He's including in that assessment recent efforts to provide bike helmets to local children and a clinic he will help with to teach bicycle safety to local children.

Yes, however, DeFelice, like many other riders, would like to see more dedicated bike lanes and bike racks.

It's dedicated infrastructure that separates Batavia from more bike-friendly environs, such as Denver and New York City, or even the Akron-Clarence area of Erie County.

More pavement markings signaling it's OK for bikes to be on the road would help send the right message, local bikers said. Bike racks would encourage more people to use bikes for going to and from work, shopping or out for dining. Bike trails would help riders cover greater distances safely and in comfort.

"You basically have to reward people who are making the trip on a bike instead of a car," said Felipe Oltramari, the county's planning director. "A lot of times it seems like you're not rewarding riders by not providing the proper facilities."

Yes, there's Ellicott Street, with its designated bike lanes, but not too many riders take that route. It's more common to see riders on the sidewalks, which is illegal in Batavia, than on the asphalt.

Many riders said they just don't feel safe in those bike lanes. Vehicle traffic is constant, the flow is heavy and big trucks rumbling by gives most riders a sense of insecurity.

DeFelice said he gets that, but he said he feels perfectly comfortable on Ellicott Street.

"Of course, I ride with the police department and I'm pretty visible, so I don't have a problem with it," DeFelice said.

Oltramari, who often rides from his home in the city to his office in County Building #2 on West Main Street Road, said just making the ride regularly has helped his comfort level riding alongside fast-moving, truck-intensive traffic on Route 5. He's gotten used to it and so feels safer.

With Ellicott Street, Oltramari said increased usage would improve the viability of the bike lanes, but there are other things the DOT could do to help that along.

More physical separation between bike and driving lanes would help, he said. There are small plastic markings available that could provide more of a visual separation. He said he's also seen in other communities where the bike lane is placed between parking and the sidewalk so that parked cars become a protective barrier for riders.

Julie Pacatte, economic development coordinator for the city, suggested the bike lane be painted a solid color, such as green, from beginning to end. That would provide a visual reminder to watch for bike riders and respect their space.

There's also a sense that Ellicott Street is a bike route to no where. It doesn't connect to anything -- no trails, not other paths.

"The DOT has of late jumped on the idea of complete transportation corridors," Oltramari said. "That is providing for all uses, vehicles, bikes and pedestrians, but that doesn't always address the comfort level of everybody as if they had their own space. The large number of trucks doesn't take into account the comfort level of the rider or even the walker. When we did our walking tour, the truck traffic was pretty loud and you couldn't hear the person walking next to you."

There is sometimes a misconception locally that the DOT reconfigured Ellicott Street to add the bike lanes. That is not really accurate, said Lori Maher, regional spokeswoman for the DOT. It's true only to the extent that the DOT is in fact now trying to provide for driving, biking and walking along the transportation corridors it owns, but there was a more primary goal for Ellicott Street than bikes, she said.

"We decided to go from four lanes to three, including the middle-turn lane, primarily to provide better left-turn access for the driveways along Ellicott Street," Maher said. "You're less likely to get rear-ended in a turn lane and you're less likely to hold up other traffic, and if you're turning, you can likely turn sooner because you're waiting on one lane of traffic instead of two."

The reconfiguration made room for bike lanes, given the existing width of the roadway, Maher said, so given the DOT's overall transportation goals, it made sense to add them.

"Whenever we go into a highway project, we look to see if bike and pedestrian needs are being met," Maher said.

Even with the skeptics decrying the value of the Ellicott Street bike lanes, Oltramari sees them as an overall benefit to the city and part of a long-term play to improve Batavia's bikeability.

"I think it's a good thing for the DOT to put in," Oltramari said. "You have to start somewhere. It just seems silly to have it and have it go nowhere, but as it builds from there, it will make more sense. You hear a lot of arguments that we don't need a bike lane here or we don't need a bike lane there because nobody rides bikes, but it's a chicken-and-egg thing. You can't use that argument because maybe people would ride more if there were more facilities for riders."

The proposed Ellicott Trail could transform Ellicott Street from the bike route to nowhere to one that is part of an interconnected network of bike paths.

"The Ellicott Trail could draw more retail and recreational traffic into the heart of the city," Pacatte said. "Being bike-friendly expands the quality of life opportunities in the city, it goes along with our walkability initiative, it's an alternative form of transportation to and from work, it reduces our carbon footprint, addresses our urban growth efforts and means we're not just dependent on vehicle traffic. It's part of our friendlier city initiative."

The proposed trail, which has already been approved for $1 million in federal grants, will begin at Pearl Street in Batavia and extend east to Seven Springs Road in the Town of Batavia. The trail will be between 4.3 and 4.6 miles long and 10-feet wide.

Batavia could become a very bike-friendly city, Oltramari said.

"Luckily, there are a lot of things that overlap," Oltramari said. "The city has good bones for a really good bike infrastructure. There's a grid-style layout, so you don't have a lot streets that end in cul-de-sacs, and it's fairly flat. From east to west, there are plenty of nice streets, such as Richmond and North streets, and when the Ellicott Trail gets built, there will be a nice southside east-west way to get across the city."

A lack of bike racks in the city means bikers must find whatever secure object they can to chain a bike two while parked.

West Main Street Road has broad shoulders, but no visual clues for drivers to be on the lookout for bicyclists.

In the Village of Akron, an old railroad line has been converted into a bike trail. The trail connects to trails in other communities and the Erie County network of trails is growing. It's a system Genesee County's own proposed trail system could eventually connect with.

Concrete mix spills onto Ellicott Street, slowing traffic

By Billie Owens

Northbound Ellicott Street is temporarily closed, with traffic being diverted into the center turn lane, because of a concrete mix spill from a Hanson Aggregates cement truck. The mixture is thin and covers an area about 100 yards long. Hanson workers are cleaning it up.

Keeping customers coming back has helped Southside Deli thrive for 25 years

By Howard B. Owens

Standing by a window, toasting a French bread pizza, Jeff Heubusch looked out on sunny Ellicott Street and mused, "sure beats working working in a salt mine."

He then states the obvious with a wry smile. "There's no windows in a mine shaft."

Heubusch should know. He spent 12 years working in a salt mine. He only quit when a mining accident nearly took his life.

His year-long recuperation gave him time to reflect and reassess what he wanted to do with his life.

The son of a miner, Heubusch purchased Southside Deli two years before the accident (today is the 25th anniversary of that purchase). He kept his mining job even as he tried to build the deli business. Digging out the salt of the Earth so motorists could drive on de-iced asphalt offered Heubusch a sense of security not available to entrepreneurs. He didn't want to give up that steady paycheck and good benefits while trying to build a business of his own.

While convalescing, Heubusch said to himself, "Am I going to lay on this couch the rest of my life and live on comp or Social Security disability?"

"Once I was able to get around and be productive, that's when I said, really, 'it's all or nothing.' "

That sense of commitment has stuck with Heubusch now for more than two decades. It's the reason Southside Deli not only survived. It thrived.

One hundred customers a day has become 500. Three employees have become 17. Children who once bought pop and candy at the store now bring their families in for subs and salads.

Born in Wyoming County, Heubusch graduated from Warsaw High School in 1977. He was 17 and couldn't get a job, so he went to work in his mother's upholstery business.

When he turned 18, he got his first job in a salt mine.

He was laid off, rehired, laid off and rehired again a couple of times over the next few years. During that time he also worked for U.S. Gypsum and Le Roy Machine.

He bought a house in Batavia, and when he started working in the mine again, his daily commute took him down Ellicott Street.

Every day, he would drive past Southside Deli (Heubusch kept the name from the previous owner; In the 19th Century, it was Ebling Meat Market and the location has always been some sort of market). 

On the second floor of the building is a balcony. As he drove by each day, Heubusch would see a for sale sign hanging from the balcony rail.

That got his mind working.

"I'd see it and I'd think to myself, 'man, I'd love to work for myself.' I kept seeing that and it kept fueling my idea of what I would do if I owned that."

There's a reason working in a salt mine is a metaphor in our culture's lexicon for arduous work. It's hard labor.

In flush times, Heubusch worked 10 to 12-hour days, seven days a week.

"There were days I never saw daylight."

One day, finally, he called a realtor and got the ball rolling.

Escrow closed Aug. 10, 1989. Heubusch opened Southside Deli for the first time under his ownership four days later.

The business needed a lot of work, he said. The century-old building needed an array of repairs. There was kitchen equipment to replace and Heubusch wanted to expand the deli.

"I knew the deli had potential. It was a great concept, but he (the previous owner) wasn't a hands-on guy. I knew if I worked it, I could bring it to life."

There was nothing easy about those early years, said Heubusch, who had no prior food service experience.

Besides keeping his job in the salt mine, Heubusch and his family (his daughter Cassandra was 4 years old at the time) lived in the apartment above the store.

"That's the only way I could do it."

Cassandra rode her skates through the aisles and learned to ring out deli customers by the time she was 6.

Then came the mining accident.

He was at the bottom of a mine shaft and it closed up on him. Heubusch suffered a pair of broke legs, a broken back and nerve damage.

"To me, it was a life-threatening experience. It all could have ended that day."

He required multiple surgeries, a year of at-home convalescence, seven years of physical therapy and 20 years of chiropractors.

To see him work in his store today, you would never guess his body had been through such trauma. 

"This place did help me, both mentally and physically."

So what's the secret to his success?

Heubusch said it's easy: hard work, good food and a singular focus on keeping customers happy.

A customer complaint feels like a failure, Heubusch said.

He takes a lot of pride in how well his deli team works together to take orders quickly, move fast and deliver the right sub or wrap made well and with alacrity. It's timing and attention to detail.

"I like being known as the place with the best subs. The best meats, the best salads. That's our niche. People can go anywhere else and buy pop, groceries or beer, but you can't buy a Southside Deli sub anywhere else. If you've been raised on Southside, nobody can match it."

The best measure of success, Heubusch said, is the customer who comes back.

"It's a good feeling. When you have a customer who's never been in before and they come back and they come back and they come back, it's a good feeling. Then I know I'm doing the right thing."

It sure beats working in a salt mine.

During lunch hour, customers are often lined up four and five deep at the deli counter.

On the wall above the racks of candy are 22 pictures of Little League teams sponsored by Southside Deli. Heubusch said young men come in now and point to pictures of their 8- and 9-year-old selves.

"It sure beats working in a salt mine."

A big part of Southside's lunch business comes from workers calling in their orders for pick up.

Car hits store facade on Ellicott Street, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

A driver apparently hit the gas when she meant to hit the brake while parking outside the Southside Deli at 300 Ellicott St., Batavia, late this afternoon. Her car jumped the curb and hit the Olive Branch health food store. The driver was transported to UMMC for a precautionary exam.

Photos submitted by Frank Capuano.

Photo: Low visibility and slick driving on Ellicott Street

By Howard B. Owens

The weather can only be described as nasty. It's 10 degrees, about four or five inches of snow is falling and it's still coming. The breeze is strong enough to add a pretty strong bite to the already low temperature.

And more is on the way. The winter storm warning remains in effect through tomorrow.

Photos: 'Umtoo' grand opening

By Daniel Crofts

Today was opening day for "Umtoo," a new outreach of Batavia's First United Methodist Church (see Wednesday's article, "'Umtoo' to serve city residents in need," for more info).

According to volunteer Sandy Kramer, they had a total of 34 visitors between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. -- 21 were church members and the people they invited, and 13 were non-members.

Here are some pictures from the event, including some "sneak peaks" at free stuff and what Umtoo will have to offer:

Will and Julio (musical entertainment)

Volunteers Doug Niebch, Dorothy Taylor and Kramer

Some free snacks

A jar full of Bible passages for people to pick out at random.

Night lights

Fiction and nonfiction books on a variety of topics

'Umtoo' to serve city residents in need

By Daniel Crofts

Batavia First United Methodist Church volunteers John Fox, Sandy Kramer and Grace West spent time Tuesday setting up the church's new walk-in mission dubbed "Umtoo," on the corner of Ellicott and Liberty streets in Batavia.

"Umtoo," according to church pastor Pam Klotzbach, is a cryptic re-spelling of "UM-two," which stands for "United Methodist two."

Klotzbach said Umtoo will be a place for the unemployed, homeless and underprivileged of Batavia's Southside to come and enjoy free coffee, tea, juice, wrapped food, fellowship, conversation, games such as checkers, and also get help with computer skills, job hunting, homework, laundry and other needs.

For those unsure of how to get the assistance they need in other areas, Umtoo will provide referrals and even, in some cases, make calls on their behalf.

They also hope to start a weekly Bible study in the next couple months, as well as informal worship services.

"Our intention is to show Christ to people in a non-threatening way," Kramer said, adding that they plan on getting to know the people and then tailoring their approach to the needs of the community.

Klotzbach had this in mind when she first introduced the idea.

Previously a pastor in Fillmore, Klotzbach was moved to Batavia by the Upper New York State Conference of the United Methodist Church. The Conference assigned her to the local church at 8221 Lewiston Road after seeing how involved she was during her pastoral tenure in Fillmore. She was not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty.

"(The church) got bounced out of the City of Batavia during the urban renewal days," Klotzbach said. "It used to be near the YMCA. Without sidewalks near us or buses (for transport), we have to come to where the people are."

She has been amazed at the eagerness and generosity of church members, who have put a lot of time and effort into building up and preparing Umtoo.

Umtoo will host its grand opening for the public on Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Coffee, tea and snacks will be provided, along with entertainment from Will and Julio. It shares a space with "Amy's Fluffy Friends" pet grooming parlor at 238-240 Ellicott St.

Mission hours will be:

Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Friday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.
Sunday, noon until 5 p.m.

Call 343-4708, ext. 11, for more information.

Photo: New Mexican food place planned for Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

It looks like Batavia is going to get a taco stand on Ellicott Street across from the Pok-A-Dot near Liberty Street. This sign appeared in the window recently. The new owners were not around when I stopped by this morning.

UPDATE: One of the new owners is Derek Geib, co-owner of Bourbon & Burger Co.. Mike Hyland, a partner at B&B, is also partner with Casa Del Taco, along with Dick Long. They're shooting for an Oct. 1 opening.

Electrical fire reported in apartment on Ellicott Street

By Howard B. Owens

An electrical fire is reported at 513 Ellicott St., upper, Batavia.

The caller reports black smoke in the living room.

City Fire Department is responding.

UPDATE 10:43 p.m.: City fire back in service.

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