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New owners have big plans for the former Hertel News; Store will keep lottery, add upscale offerings

Hertel Avenue is seeing one more changing of the guard as landmark convenience store Hertel News and Tobacco makes way for the new and more upscale North Park Market.

Former Lodge Auction House owner Lisa Eoannou and her business partner and cousin by marriage, Alice Eoannou, owner of the Globe Market, have big plans for the 2,500-square-foot store at the corner of Norwalk Avenue.

Most notably, the store's adjacent lottery room will feature a "Globe Market to Go," featuring fresh salads, sandwiches on freshly baked bread and two kinds of homemade soups. Customers can place orders at the counter or choose packaged items from a small deli case.

"We want to bring in healthier eating options for the neighborhood," Lisa Eoannou said.

In the dining room, the lottery ticket vending machine and Quick Draw station will stay -- the store's lottery sales are among Erie County's highest. But gamblers will be able to watch their numbers from large wooden desks or from a new counter against the front windows.

The interior will get a makeover with warm colors, improved space planning and new wooden shelving. The drop ceiling will be removed to expose the original tin ceiling. Antique light fixtures will be installed.

The store's wood-and-glass display cases will remain but will be filled with imported cigars instead of the current 25-cent candy cigarettes.

"I want to keep as much wood as I can," Lisa Eoannou said. "We love fun, architectural stuff; stained glass, antiques. So we want to bring a lot of that in."

The owners have already brought in dozens of new products and are planning an old-fashioned candy store section with nostalgic candies. There will also be a section with higher-quality children's toys ("Not that dollar junk," Alice Eoannou said) priced at $3 to $4.

"We want something where parents can bring their kids down. Maybe they get some ice cream. Maybe the mom picks up a gallon of milk while she's here," Alice Eoannou said. "There have always been kids here. A lot of the houses around here are doubles."

Instead of running from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the store will open at 7 a.m. and close at 9 or 10 p.m. Changes are scheduled to be completed by mid-October.

Much of the store's interior had not changed since it was opened by Virginia "Chick" and Joseph "Pee Wee" Gnozzo in 1972.

Customers are looking forward to the change, according to Gina Mancino, Pee Wee's niece, who has worked the store's counter since the store opened.

"I'm excited over it. They're excited over it, too," she said.

But one of the last vestiges of the old Hertel Avenue vacated the building when 90-year-old Pee Wee Gnozzo retired recently.

The street has seen a rebirth as young professionals move into the area, buying homes and patronizing the many small, locally owned businesses, such as decor store Baby Room and the sleek Empire Grill restaurant.

Alice Eoannou bought the building about five years ago, in the thick of Hertel's renaissance. It holds 12 apartments and 14 commercial spaces, including Pole Play -- a dance studio that teaches women how to pole dance for fitness.

Alice decided she wanted Hertel News and Tobacco for herself after seeing its potential. She figured she could bring up property values by sprucing up the space.

Still, the store's owners plan to do its legacy proud.

"We want to be a neighborhood store. We want to keep our old friends and customers and bring in new ones," Lisa Eoannou said.

email: schristmann@buffnews.com

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