It’s business almost as usual for Western New Yorkers - The Buffalo News

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It’s business almost as usual for Western New Yorkers

With schools closed, the children stayed home.

So did a lot of their parents, whose plants or offices were closed Wednesday because of the March blizzard.

But Derrick Simmons opened Bertha’s Diner, the establishment he manages on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo.

He did a brisk breakfast business.

Dave Ricci of North Buffalo headed to Terrie’s Workout Center on Hertel Avenue to lift weights.

“This place is always open,” said Ricci, a Tonawanda News sports reporter who worked out while the snow pounded the city. “I don’t have to worry about the door being locked.”

Indeed, the fitness center becomes more crowded when the weather closes schools and offices, said manager Chad Pozantidis.

“People can walk here from the neighborhood,” he said, “and they have extra time to work out.”

Also on Hertel, the North Park Theatre opened its doors while the blizzard was at its worst.

Unfortunately for the children, the theater showed a movie they could not get into: the R-rated “Girl on a Bicycle.”

Unfortunately, as well, for the adults who could get in, the film got terrible reviews. The New York Daily News called it possibly the worst romantic comedy ever made: “A unicycle would be more fun.”

But who can be picky in the middle of a blizzard?

A bad movie day or not, residents across Western New York carried on amid the winds and slippery roads.

Fewer deliveries, better tips

At Fat Man Pizza in the Town of Tonawanda, orders for pies were down, but delivery tips were up.

“They’re just surprised that we’re open. And happy,” said Dena Aksoy, a co-owner, whose two out-of-school children, hiding beneath the counter, happily played iPad games.

Nearby businesses on the quiet and snow-crusted stretch of Niagara Falls Boulevard were closed. The residential customers called in with orders for pizzas and wings, including one hopeful request for a beer delivery, too.

“No, I don’t sell beer,” Aksoy told him.

By late afternoon, driver Greg Harris had made five deliveries, earning $5 tips instead of the usual $2 to $3.

“If people would shovel their driveways, it would be easier,” Harris said.

Aksoy came to work curious what business would be like. She came back home to Buffalo from Florida last spring. Her friends were obviously wrong when they touted the milder winters of recent years.

“Since I moved back, instead of sunshine, I’ve brought the cold,” she said.

Just keep shoveling

Ron Schauv was shoveling – again.

It seems that’s all he’s been doing this winter.

“Just a lot of shoveling,” he said.

The maintenance worker at the Southgate Plaza in West Seneca cleared the sidewalks around the plaza in the morning before the snow could build up in the afternoon.

“It can’t get any worse than the last one,” Schauv said of the January blizzard.

Most of the plaza’s stores were open, but business was light.

Many people heeded the warnings about venturing out, but the snow didn’t stop Bernette Bennett.

Bennett, a grandmother on a shopping trip, waited for the No. 15 bus in West Seneca to take her home to Buffalo.

“I’m used to this,” said Bennett, a blizzard veteran.

In the Blizzard of ’77, she said, she got stranded.

A whole lot of white

At the Village Diner on Main Street in Youngstown, the back windows offered something different than the usual spectacular view of the Lower Niagara River.

Patrons got a cozy view of whiteout conditions.

Blowing snow blocked the view of just about everything, aside from some chunks of floating ice near the shore and a small city of masts from all the drydocked sailboats.

The lunch crowd was good, though.

“We can’t complain for it being a lousy day,” said waitress Maureen Olson.

Even colleges can close

Ben Auerbach left his car at home in favor of riding Metro Rail to UB’s South Campus in Buffalo.

“It’s more convenient,” Auerbach said. Metro Rail’s Allen-Medical Campus is a short walk from his home.

“I’ll probably leave work early today, if I can, before it gets real bad,” the medical school researcher said.

For Auerbach and others who work or study at UB, the decision proved easier for them later in the day when UB canceled all classes and activities.

Architectural student Kate Martell was not disappointed as she waited to board a bus back to the North Campus.

“I didn’t have any other classes here this morning,” Martell said after learning her studio class was canceled.

News Staff Reporters Jay Rey, Harold McNeil, Michelle Kearns, Henry L. Davis, Barbara O’Brien and Aaron Besecker contributed to this report. email:

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