Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news - The Buffalo News
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Off Main Street / The offbeat side of the news

‘All this tokin’ ’

A proposal for a hookah lounge on Elmwood Avenue brought out a passionate case this week from the lounge’s would-be owner, who told city lawmakers about his decision to come to America from Egypt in 1996 and how he has since become a proud Buffalonian.

Amir Abbas, who owns Habibi Sheesha Lounge locations in Amherst and Niagara Falls, tried to explain how important smoking hookah pipes, which contain dried fruit leaves and are passed around in a group, are in his Egyptian culture.

“It’s a lifestyle,” he said, likening it to how some Americans drink beer with friends.

Abbas brought full-color photos of the interior of his other locations, but he might need to do some more explaining of the concept to lawmakers, who decided to wait to take a vote.

Council President Darius G. Pridgen admitted a lot of the finer points of hookah smoking were confusing.

“All this tokin’, and you pass it on, I don’t know what’s going on,” he said.

Sweet on Timmy Ho’s

Buffalonians’ seriousness about Tim Hortons is nothing like the fervor for the coffee and doughnuts chain possessed by their northern neighbors.

Exhibit A: Canadian digital company Pilot Interactive has developed an entire website devoted to all things Tim Hortons, called

The “curated anthology of Tim Hortons donuts” reveals that the “bit” in “Timbit” means “big in taste” and explains what people mean when they order a “double double” – two creams, two sugars.

Developer Tegan Mierle told Fast Company’s Co.Create site that she hopes her site, which is not affiliated with the company, saves people some embarrassment when they order.

(In Canada when you order your coffee “regular,” it means one cream, one sugar, something Mierle said she didn’t know when she started drinking coffee).

Mierle offered another reason why she admires the company that has nothing to do with doughnuts.

“What’s really interesting to me about the Tim Hortons brand is that it is so accessible, honest, and class-agnostic,” she told reporter Jeff Beer. “Your average Tim’s customer could be a billionaire entrepreneur or your Average Joe, and that’s something really special that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”

‘Turkey Dynasty’ in Falls

When Kari A. Butski of Niagara Falls pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing $14,000 from a Youngstown auto repair shop when she was its office manager in 2012, Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III expressed doubts that the unemployed Butski would be able to pay restitution.

Butski assured him that she could work for her parents’ business, which, she said, is making turkey calls.

“They’re world famous,” defense attorney James J. Faso Jr. assured Murphy.

Apparently that’s true. Paul Butski’s turkey calls are prized among hunters. Several hunting-related websites call him “The Maestro,” and another dubbed him the “King of Strut.”

Murphy asked, “What is this? ‘Turkey Dynasty?’ Do they wear long beards?”

No long beards, but Paul Butski does have something in common with “Duck Dynasty’s” Robertson clan. He is co-host of “Turkey Thugs” on the Pursuit Channel.

In defense of discounts

The news that T.J. Maxx is coming to Lockport this summer has caused excitement in a certain segment of the population, and consternation in another.

For those not so thrilled about the discount retailer opening in a vacant South Transit Road store, the Town of Lockport Planning Board was the last line of defense.

“You guys could reject this. Then my wife and daughter wouldn’t spend as much money,” Town Planner Andrew C. Reilly jokingly told the board this week.

Bargain hunters, relax.

Despite Reilly’s halfhearted plea, the board could find no legitimate reason to keep the national chain out of town.

Written by Jill Terreri, with contributions from Thomas J. Prohaska. email:

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