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An area defined by its diversity

>What it's like:

Home to Buffalo's Italian population for decades, the West Side has since evolved into a diverse neighborhood that includes people from many ethnic groups, including Somalian, Arabic, Asian, Hispanic and African-American. Grant Street is located on the upper West Side and maintains a strong business district and a residential area largely made up of one- and two-family frame houses, as well as some apartment houses.

>What makes it unique:

The wide range of ethnic groups in the neighborhood that continue to live and work together.

>Places to go:

Guercio and Sons market. The Meating Place. A wide range of restaurants, including Santasiero's, the Niagara Cafe, La Nova Pizzeria, Marcos Italian Restaurant. There are also numerous shops, including Russ' Bakery, True Value Hardware, Royal Printing.

>Someone you should know:

Vincent "Jim" Lorigo, owner of Lorigo's Meating Place on Grant Street, a family-run business that has been a fixture on the West Side for decades.

Started by his father and originally located on Swan Street, the store moved to its Grant Street location in 1975. It boasts a 40-foot-long meat counter and offers a full range of groceries, produce and Italian specialties. Lorigo moved to his nearby home, which is close enough for him to walk to work, 53 years ago.

Most days he can still be found working at the store, which he runs with his sons, Vinnie and Joe.

>Q: Why stay in this business and in this area all these years?

A: I started in the business when I was 12 years old, working with my father. My wife doesn't drive, and she loved Grant Street. At one time she could do all her shopping on Grant Street.

>Q: What changes have you seen since you first opened the store here?

A: Neighborhood deterioration has hit bottom, but I think its on its way back. In fact our councilman recently told us that Grant Street was voted the number one up-and-coming business district in the city. We've gotten rid of the blight, and people are starting to move back in and taking ownership again.

>Q: What has been your favorite part of working and living in this area?

A: The people that we have met here, and the second and third generation that is still coming in. It's been a wonderful, wonderful experience.

e-mail: hjones@buffnews.com

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