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Harvester Center

November 15, 2022 - 11:00pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, Harvester Center, batavia, notify.

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As property manager, Jarrod Clark has really taken the Harvester Center under his wing.

After all, he discovered that his family four generations ago once owned and sold the property to Johnson Harvester, and how rich it has been with successful incubator business start-ups and well-known products, including Massey Harris farm equipment and Melton shirts.

“It’s kind of gone full circle for me,” Clark said after Tuesday’s Planning & Development Committee meeting. “It bleeds history.”

Fairly soon, it might just be brewing beer — as in locally produced brews in a tasting room and an adjacent small restaurant. He was representing Bill and Michelle Snyder, owners of Windy Brew in Strykersville, who want to open a similar site at 56 Harvester Center.

“It’s not going to be a huge facility,” he said. “It probably would seat 20 to 25 at the bar, and another 10 to 15 at tables, and everybody is drinking their beer and eating their pizza and pretzels.”

Originally proposed as a brew pub, the owners had applied for a special use permit. However, they quickly changed course after the committee informed Clark that a pub wasn’t allowed in that zone, but that a restaurant was allowable, and beer could be served there.

Windy Brew produces beer that will be available, along with other New York State brews and possibly wine, at the Batavia location, Clark said. Someone who he won’t identify just yet has also expressed interest in opening a commercial kitchen adjacent to the Snyder’s property.

jarrod_clark.jpeg“There would be room for multiple different users. So there'll be some lockers and stuff in there. There might be some seating as well. The idea is, we're really lacking a bakery in Batavia. So we're trying to find somebody that would be willing to operate a bakery out of there,” he said. “Primarily, we have a big Italian heritage here, where are you going to buy fresh Italian bread? So you're getting it shipped in from Rochester and dropped off at Southside Deli. So that would be a huge benefit … and cookies, pastries, things like that.”

“I think it’s going to be great for our building,” he said. “We both (the anonymous tenant) want to see it succeed. My goal is to get like-minded people there.”

One of the Center’s best-kept secrets is that it houses 75 business tenants that manufacture and/or sell products and services. The Snyders were “ecstatic that they don’t need a special use permit,” he said, and are shifting plans immediately. He and his other future tenant should be disclosing their plans in the next few weeks.

“For the last eight to 12 months, we’ve been looking for people in an operation or looking to do this,” he said. “There is a need for this. It’s the community driving what’s needed; many people are wanting to open a kitchen.”

Food trucks would be able to use the communal kitchen for food prep before loading up and going on the road to sell items, he said, and there are those types of mobile businesses that would benefit from such as operation.

After all, it’s costly to operate a bakery — early morning work hours, utilities, inventory, finding good recipes and people experienced in baking, plus maintenance of bathrooms. It would hinge on a kitchen set-up, he said.

“So when you have some networking and some people that you're working with, and you have other people coming in that may be visiting some of the other kitchens, you have an outlet of selling your product,” he said. “It’s not all on you. You're not the only one paying the gas bill, you're not the only one paying the electric bill. So the idea would be to get some sort of a house tenant that's a bakery and then possibly add three or four food trucks in there. And there should be enough room where there could be maybe a small Mexican takeout only or an Italian restaurant.”

Admittedly, the building — quite large with many compartments and business ventures, and a bit difficult to navigate  — can be a confusing concept for folks, Clark said.

“So it's not unlike this building to do new and different stuff that nobody's seen or heard of before,” he said, referring to the latest building applicants. “They kind of really fit us well. And we're willing to work with people that kind of look outside of the box.”

File Photo of Harvester Center on the east side of Batavia, and photo of Jarrod Clark from an online site.

October 29, 2022 - 8:05am

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Video Sponsor

Cody Harloff was caught clowning around Friday evening at Harvester Center.

Of course, the stark white face with black-rimmed eyes and deep red lips didn’t seem quite so jovial as you might expect from a clown, but that’s because Harloff was part of the haunted house on the first floor of 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia.

“I’m gonna give them the thrill and, kind of keep pushing and make them shake a little bit. It's been a mix of reactions. Some people have no reaction. Some people are screaming and running. We've had a bunch of people run through faster than they should be, going through. But it's been quite fun,” he said. “I feel like there's not enough organizations like this in Batavia that do stuff like this. So I think it's just good for them to come and get out. Whether it's, you know, the thrill of Halloween or just spending some quality time and having fun.”

Walk right up, and wait for the heavy metal door to open. An escort will wave you in by rapping his heavy wooden dowel on the door. Once inside, the door slams shut. It’s a first-time haunted house at Harvester Center sponsored by the Just Kings Social Club. It runs through this weekend.

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Not to give anything away, but a group of girls just ahead screamed their heads off, albeit, not literally. With each flinch and movement of the key house inhabitants, the girls let out a whelp and scream until finally out the other end with some fluttered breathing. The Batavian asked Chloe Cullington, 13, what got to her during the walking tour of gravestones, creepy residents, corpses, and a very loud noise reminiscent of a massacre-esque movie.

“The clowns, they were the worst,” Chloe said while trying to catch her breath. “And the chain saw.”

Her friend Meki’ayla Vazquez, 15, agreed that the clowns were pretty scary, especially in the hazy darkness filled with fog. “I couldn’t see anything.”

They were in a group of about a half dozen girls, and each one let out a scream during various points throughout the haunted house.

The evening offered up a trunk or treat and hay rides earlier on the street, followed by the Halloween feature inside. Kristyn Thomas greeted visitors as they lined up, estimating toward the end that at least 100 people — youngsters, teens, and adults — came through.

“It’s been steady, with no break. It’s kind of cool because you have people who never had the opportunity to go to a haunted house, other than in Buffalo or Rochester,” she said. “It’s kind of exciting.”

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She’s the wife of Victor Thomas, one of the chief organizers with Just Kings Social Club, a civic group that aims to give voice to the black community and raise money to then spread some kindness and cheer amongst local children. The Kings’ initiatives have included backpacks for school and, for this fundraiser, buying Christmas gifts again this season for kids.

“We’re hoping to raise a bunch more money so we can help a bunch more families. We just wanted to find a way that we could do something that we can raise money to really help out on Christmas,” Thomas said. “Hopefully we can, on top of doing what we usually do, by getting toys and donated items and giving that back to the community. Hopefully this year, we'll be able to start a little earlier and have kids actually write to us, and maybe we can grant that one wish. So like, say, if a kid had a specific wish, and he wanted an Xbox, well, this is gonna give us enough money that we can actually grant a wish instead of just donated gifts.”

More details will be publicized, probably after Thanksgiving, he said. Just Kings has a membership of 10 people, all of who work to raise money through activities including barbecues, and now the haunted house. A first-year event, Thomas believes it may be a yearly happening. For the moment, though, he was focused on this weekend.

“Tomorrow is going to be even bigger. There will be live music and different events, the scavenger hunt, so hopefully, it just gets bigger and bigger,” he said. “We really don't have a goal … just to help more kids than we had last year."

The nonprofit assisted nearly two dozen kids and 12 families last Christmas, he said.

He and three fellow members, Ray Williams, Terry Smith and Greg Munroe, worked every night after work to build the haunted house atmosphere. Harvester Center Manager Jared Clark offered the use of the Center, which has a perfect landscape for such a creation — a cemetery across the street and a cavernous building that certainly could stoke one’s imagination.

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“Me and a couple of the other guys have been here every day, busting our butts to get this done. So I know our wives and our girlfriends are happy that this is the final weekend because they'll see a little more of us around the house. The way it's going now, it can definitely generate money for our Christmas drive. So if we can get this to go annually, that'd be awesome,” Thomas said. And bring something back to Batavia for Halloween, because there's really nothing other than trick-or-treating, so it’s a different idea.”

The guys had some fun developing ideas for the house, with a barbershop — just where is he going to use that razor? — and a creepy doll room, to name just two. Local companies stepped up to sponsor, including My Cut Barbershop, WNY Concrete Corporation, and Keith Roth Allstate Insurance.

Rob Credi, owner of Pub Coffee Hub, extended his shop’s hours to correlate with the haunted house, reaping him at least another 15 or more customers for the evening. He will be selling Thriller Pizza on Saturday as part of the spookfest.

Saturday’s line-up happens from 5 to 8 p.m., with hay rides for $2, and a scavenger hunt; and the haunted house goes from 7 to 11 p.m. Festivities on Sunday include a House of Bounce activity, hay rides and penny carnival from noon to 5 p.m., and the haunted house from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission for the haunted house is $12 a person.

“So we're just trying to continue something to give these little kids something to do on a Friday, Saturday night that they usually don't get to do,” Thomas said. “We just had a seven-year-old coming through here and he wasn't scared of anything. So if your parents are watching, if you're watching scary movies at home with your parents, and you're watching them with your little ones or whatever, and they're not scared, bring them on down. It's a good time.”

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Top Photo: Haunted house occupants are waiting for your visit this weekend at Harvester Center, 56 Harvester Ave., Batavia; a group of visitors catch their breath after walking through the spooky exhibit; other creatures look forward to entertaining people on Saturday and Sunday. Photos by Howard Owens.

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