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Gusto Wish List 2018: Wing sampler, early shows, a place for dogs and more

It’s been a crazy start to 2018. The end of the drought leading to a playoff game against St. Doug Marrone. The introduction to the Cyclone Bomb and subzero weather. The announcement of a musical about Russ Salvatore. Clearly, anything is up for 2018. That got us thinking: What else would we like to see in 2018? Doesn’t matter how crazy or unlikely it might be. We posed that question to our Gusto critics and contributors. Here are their answers.

Buffalo wing sampler. Duff’s? Anchor Bar? Bar Bill? It would be great to compare all in one go with a sampler platter from the best places, available year round.

Adult beverages in movie theaters. Attendance would go up if moviegoers could have wine and chocolate with their films – just like at home. And it will make some movies go down easier.

More matinee and early concerts. The Sportsmen's Tavern has made this work, and Nietzsche's has done matinees and early shows on weekends for decades. There is a portion of the music-loving public that would be well-served if more venues followed this model.

William Fichtner and Kim Coates have fun on the set of "Cold Brook," filmed in Buffalo in 2017. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

William Fichtner’s “Cold Brook” has world premiere in Buffalo. Actor, Cheektowaga native and Bills die-hard William Fichtner shot his labor of love here last summer. A local premiere would hold special meaning for him — and for us.

Remove TVs from restaurants. Is it so unreasonable to want to carry on a conversation at a dining table that I’m paying (sometimes a lot of) money for, without being inundated with bright TVs and loud music? Call me old-fashioned.

Theater productions ready for prime time. Veterans of Buffalo’s theater scene know the feeling all too well: The curtain goes up on opening night, and the actors go up on their lines. Here’s hoping local companies realize that lighter seasons and longer rehearsals will result in better productions and bigger audiences.

Coffee at every corner. Local coffee shops, with their mismatched furniture and price-tagged paintings on the wall, stoke creativity, introspection, reflection and long conversation. We could use more of that.

*NSync reunion. C’mon, Justin Timberlake, agree to a national tour. They’d jam KeyBank Center, right? This is admittedly an early-40s crisis aversion. If guys my age can still dance, I’m not getting that old, right?

More BYOB restaurants/BYOB nights. It's nice to enjoy a few drinks without doubling your dinner bill.

Hit the scene on a school night. Some of the best Buffalo club shows land between Sunday and Thursday. If we want these bookings to continue and strengthen our already rich music scene, we have to prevent these weeknights from being such weak nights.

Smarter, subtler lighting for buildings. Buffalo is in the midst of a neon renaissance, with buildings throughout downtown sporting technologically advanced new lighting systems. But with little aesthetic guidance, the skyline threatens to turn gaudy. Buffalo is not Vegas, nor should it aspire to be.

The AMC Market Arcade draws capacity crowds to Main Street. The future AMC cinema at the Market Arcade plans to finally open in the summer. With recliner seating and a digital makeover, movie fans finally have a legit reason to make it to Main Street.

More diversity at Darien Lake. For the past several years, the venue has presented lineups that are made up almost exclusively of modern country and mainstream pop and hip-hop acts. That's all fine, but a little variety would be nice.

More theater by and about immigrants and refugees. The most dramatic stories in Buffalo are being lived and told by our diverse population of new residents from across the globe. A buzzworthy production of “Fiddler on the Roof” in early 2017 spurred interest in Buffalo’s new global culture, and 2018 could be the year they truly enter the spotlight.

A local director for the Burchfield Penney Art Center. It’s often wise for Buffalo institutes to look outside the region for new leadership. But at the Burchfield Penney, where knowledge of and participation in Buffalo’s unique cultural ecology is essential, it’s better to hire someone who already knows the ropes.

A homage to fromage. A cheese-focused restaurant that serves all delicious cheesy things with cheese from different countries.

Lots of laughs. From stand-up to improv to do-it-yourself workshops, we have a great comedy scene. Catch a show. Take a class. Comedy puts the world in context, and laughing is a fine antidote for anger.

Turn down the music. Can restaurants be more conscious of the music they play? It’s either wrong for the restaurant or too loud, especially in the case of industrial-designed restaurants with no rug. Restaurants that pipe in the radio are the worst.

It's about time Buffalo celebrates "The Natural."

Grand acknowledgement of "The Natural." Is it a giant, scene-specific mural near Coca-Cola Field? Is it a statue of Roy Hobbs or his bat, Wonderboy? Following this year's Turner Classic Movie exposure, something big needs to happen downtown to advertise Buffalo's role in the greatest baseball movie of all time.

More collaboration. There are many reasons for theater and performing arts companies to collaborate more. Aside from the financial benefits, it can do wonders for creativity and create something totally unexpected.

Watch the temperature in your restaurant. Just because restaurant servers are running around feeling warm, the folks sitting may not be. Nobody wants to freeze eating a meal.

Buffalo support for Buffalo artists. If we don't tirelessly herald the work of our own authors, filmmakers, musicians and the like, why would anyone outside the 716 area code?

The patio of Niagara Street brewery Resurgence is one of the great outdoor hangouts. (Chuck Alaimo/Special to The News)

Take it outside. Restaurants and bars should have outdoor spots as much as the weather allows. It would be fun to see more outdoor winter bars offering hot drinks – an experiment that has cropped up here and there — and to see more patios with outdoor heaters.

Let the dogs in. Other cities allow our furry friends into stores and restaurants, and it would be nice if we could do so here — if only sit with us on the patio while we sip a cup of coffee.

More Christmas events after Dec. 25. The commercialism can grind to a halt on Dec. 25, and that’s good. But the season lasts after that. Who needs to plunge head-first into a dreary January?

More seriously local menus aimed at the $3-$8 range. Like Lloyd Taco Factory.

Nomination of pianist Pete Johnson for the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. He was one of the Boogie Woogie Trio that played Carnegie Hall and helped popularize the concept of boogie woogie piano for a generation.

Ethnic flavors. A first-class Arab restaurant that makes its pita bread to order, and a source for Malaysian cuisine, with its rendangs, assam laksa noodle soup and kangkung belacan.

Patton Oswalt and Sarah Silverman in Buffalo. We’ve been blessed to see the top names in comedy — Chappelle, Rock, Schumer, Gaffigan — visit, but two we’d love to see live are Oswalt and Silverman. Oswalt drew tough crowds when he last visited us a decade ago, so let’s roll out the red carpet to welcome him back.

Wanted: A sloppy joe. Can someone please serve a sloppy joe? Very few restaurants do, and I love them.

A new mission for Shea’s 710 Theatre. Since its closure in 2008, the former Studio Arena Theatre has taken up permanent residence on wish lists. There are exciting things in the offing for the space under Shea’s CEO Michael Murphy, and this may just be the year a sustainable formula for this gem of a theater finally materializes.

More nachos, please. Since Buffalo bars are now asking its patrons to pay Boston prices, how about some free snacks to go with the $7 beers? Expanding the Founding Fathers model would be nice.

Hey, Southern Tier Brewery: What about us? The Lakewood operation just opened a brewpub between Pittsburgh's Heinz Field and PNC Park, yet still have no brick-and-mortar presence in downtown Buffalo. High time for the brand behind One Buffalo to rectify this.

Restaurants with live, elegant piano music. On an actual piano, not an electric keyboard. The closing of E.B. Green’s, where Jackie Jocko used to play, has left a void.

Abandon Darien Lake and build an amphitheater downtown. I've had an awful lot of fun seeing shows at the venue in the 27 years I've lived in Buffalo, but maybe it's time we brought the action down into our city proper. A permanent amphitheater downtown is overdue.

More projects like SACRA. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s sponsorship of a construction training program is a trailblazing initiative aimed at combating underemployment. It would be great to see more artists and arts groups stretch their missions to more directly confront Buffalo’s biggest crises.

Contributing to our wish list were staffers Colin Dabkowski, Andrew Galarneau, Mary Kunz Goldman, Jeff Miers, Tim O'Shei and Toni Ruberto along with contributors Dan Almasi, Mark Ciemcioch, Michael Farrell, Emeri Krawczyk, Garaud MacTaggart, Christopher Schobert and Ben Siegel.

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