Along with fresh pavement and newly painted parking spaces along Main Street in downtown Buffalo, you’ll find a new restaurant waiting to offer that first morning cup of coffee, fresh sandwiches, desserts and evening treats.
Buzz Coffee Shop, which opened this fall at 698 Main St., in the heart of the Theatre District, boasts almost 20 different types of beans for grinding into caffeinated delights as well as a light breakfast and lunch menu.
Walking in, you’ll realize the cafe fits in with its artsy neighbors. Paintings and photographs from area artists serve as the decor, all including a price tag. Owner James Neff offers the wall space for a small fee ($5 for hanging and a 15 percent commission for pieces he sells), saying that he wants to help local artists display and sell their work.
A small business helping out fellow Buffalonians makes a great first impression.
The dining area houses traditional tables in green, island seating and a couch near the window looking out over Main Street. This mix provides a homey atmosphere.
After viewing the mini art show, I found my way to the back right of the restaurant to place my order. Choices are written on a dry erase board on the wall near the cash register. The coffee selection is large, while a small selection of breakfasts and lunches complements the beverage offerings.
Beans include Colombian (regular and decaf), French roast, Venetian blend, dark Guatemalan, Tuscan blend, French vanilla, English toffee, coconut cream, Irish cream and more. Self-serve prices are $1.99 for a small, $2.25 medium and $2.75 large. The prices are a little higher than at the chain cafes, but it’s understandable because they have bulk-ordering power behind them.
I requested the house blend, which was made fresh for me behind the counter. It was mild yet flavorful, with a sweet flavor that reminded me more of a French roast than a typical, plain coffee. It was a nice surprise.
Breakfast and bagel sandwiches ($4.99) include egg and cheese with sausage, ham or bacon. I asked for egg, cheddar and sausage on a cinnamon raisin bagel, to Neff’s bewilderment.
“Well, that’s different,” he said with a smile.
As soon as my sandwich was delivered on its small, plastic plate, the strong cinnamon aroma hit my nose. I enjoyed the sweetness of the raisins with the proteins, and the bagel’s toasty crunch balanced the softness of the inside ingredients.
Buzz is brewing up more than plain coffee. Iced coffee ($2.49) is served with frozen coffee cubes, ensuring that the drink isn’t watered down as the ice melts. Teas are served hot (1.99) and iced ($2.49) in flavors such as lemon herbal, raspberry, orange spice and Earl Grey.
Cappuccino, latte, caramel macchiato and cafe mocha (all $3.99) also are featured. Add a shot of espresso for $2.25 or a double shot for $3.75.
Food choices also include chicken and steak fajita paninis ($5.99), Italian, ham and turkey paninis ($4.99), soups and chili ($4.29), salads ($1.99 to $7.99) and pizza slices ($2.99 for one pepperoni and cheese, $4.99 for two; $3.99 for one steak slice, $6.99 for two).
The owner was friendly, offering anyone who would listen snippets of information about the business every few minutes, including, “Nothing is processed or frozen here.” He added that when he first opened, he offered larger paninis at a higher price, but they weren’t selling because people expected lighter selections at lunch. The new sizes are still impressive, taking up the majority of a large paper plate. It’s hard to imagine how big the “big” ones were.
Neff was excited to talk to visitors about his new endeavor. This was refreshing, considering the alternative. I’ve dealt with many a grumpy owner in my time, making the dining experience aggravating.
Whether you are walking from downtown offices or driving through the newly restored Main Street, buzz on into this new business.
Buzz Coffee Shop
Where: 698 Main St. (430-7234).
Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, evening hours 7 p.m. to midnight Thursday to Saturday.
Parking: Metered parking on Main Street, nearby pay lots.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes.
Extras: Call-ahead ordering, also open for special events, limited delivery coming soon.