Suzanne Eberhardt and Dante D’Anthony, both in the their mid-50s, grew up in Buffalo. They attended SUNY Buffalo State at the same time in the early '80s, and they both majored in some aspect of design. But despite having some of the same professors, hanging out with similar friends and working under the same mentor, they had never met.
Eberhardt spent most of her childhood in rural Western New York. When she was a teenager, her family moved to North Buffalo. After two years at Bennett High School and after graduating from college with a degree in interior design, she moved to New York City.
“I landed at the YMCA when I first arrived,” Eberhardt said. “I had no place to live. I just up and left with a suitcase.”
Eventually, Eberhardt secured an internship with Stendig International Inc. — the maker of the infamous Marilyn Monroe Lip sofa. It was non-paid, so she had to work at a restaurant to make a living. Life in New York took off from there, and in 1988, Eberhardt launched her own interior design firm, Eberhardt Design.
“I started working with a financial firm on a relocation project,” she said. “It was pretty intense, and it lasted a year and a half to get it all settled and finished. I learned a lot from it. My career started from there.”
For the next 32 years, Eberhardt lived, worked and breathed the city life. But Buffalo, she said, was always in her heart. “I had always thought off and on about moving back. It was like this feeling inside that I was never quite home, and never quite settled. I had built up a network of friends and what I would consider family. But I still never felt home.”
D’Anthony can relate. He has lived all over the country, including Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and Boston. But he never felt settled, either.
Names: Suzanne Eberhardt and Dante D'Anthony
Current location: West Side
Previous locations: New York City; Miami/Los Angeles/Boston
Love most about Buffalo: Trees, architecture, history, Albright-Knox, North Park Theater
Miss most about other places: The ease of starting a business and making it viable
“There’s just something about Buffalo,” said D’Anthony, who grew up in South Buffalo and graduated from South Park High School. “The mentality here is so unique. Just look at the history of it. You have all these people who came from Europe that were largely working class people. They came here and made the most of their opportunity. And they did it with a very solid, down-to-earth, sensibility. That’s what has been passed down through generations.”
Before Eberhardt made the move back to Buffalo in 2014, she found D’Anthony on Facebook and discovered their uncanny links and common history. He had already moved back in late 2013, and he was working on a motion-capture animation project. When they finally met in person, they went to Towne Restaurant for coffee. The next date was a tour of the Lafayette Hotel. Many more dates followed, including a joint trip to Home Depot.
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“We understand each other on many levels,” Eberhardt said. “We both have to travel a lot for our jobs, we both enjoy the arts and appreciate architecture, we both went to the same college and are interested in the same things, and it turned out we both have a lot of love for Buffalo.”
Right now, Eberhardt and D’Anthony own an old worker's cottage house together on the West Side. Eberhardt still runs her business in New York City and is looking to slowly transition everything over to Buffalo. D’Anthony continues to work on motion-capture animation, and he hopes to put together a major enterprise development fund for Buffalo for gaming, feature film and digital media.
“We both work a lot,” he said. “And some things are up in the air in that regard. We don’t know if we’ll ever move again. But if we do, this will always be our home base. We’ll always keep our roots here.”
Story topics: Expats to repats