After a change in leadership and a long search for a new location, Buffalo restaurant incubator the West Side Bazaar has picked 1432 Niagara St. for its new home.
Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI), which oversees the bazaar's operations and management, announced Thursday the new site would be three times the size of the original location (25 Grant St.) and will aim to open in spring 2021.
“We’re thrilled about this development and are looking forward to transforming a vacant building into a destination for the West Side community,” said Carolynn Welch, WEDI's new executive director.
“We hope the new Bazaar will help spur more development on Niagara Street. Moreover, it will continue to give low-income and refugee entrepreneurs the opportunity to own and operate a business in our City.”
The West Side Bazaar, which opened in 2011, is a collection of refugee and immigrant-run food stands and non-food vendors, who earn valuable business experience before ideally branching out on their own.
Authentic Thai, Burmese, Laotian, Ethiopian and Japanese cuisine have all been served over its history, and now a greater number of aspiring immigrant or low-income restaurateurs will be able to get their feet wet in 2021.
A press release also noted the new Bazaar location would be more accommodating for community events, provide more storage and customer seating, feature upgraded kitchen equipment and broaden its reach beyond food entrepreneurs.
The recipient of a $215,000 grant from the 2017 Decorators Show House, WEDI announced its intentions to look for a larger location in April 2018.
A change in leadership from Benjamin Bissell to Welch, a thorough process of collecting community input and a lengthy search for a suitable site slowed the development.
In the meantime, Gourmet Lao Foods – which began as a Bazaar vendor – branched out to begin its own business by SUNY Buffalo State. The small restaurant at 643 Grant St. is one of two food-related "graduates" of the WEDI restaurant program in operation, alongside Family Thai.
Given the chosen location, roughly a block south of Roost, with Potomac as the nearest cross street, the Bazaar will be intentionally closer to Riverside to support its blossoming refugee and immigrant communities.