After moving away from Buffalo in 2007, Jerry Cappello has lived in five cities over the past 12 years. But none of them compares to his hometown.
“The people there, that sense of community is really strong,” Cappello said. “I really haven’t experienced anything like that anywhere else. Not just the places I’ve lived, but the places I’ve traveled to.”
Cappello was born and raised in Amherst, with a childhood spent playing sports, and summers spent at Crystal Beach.
“I really enjoyed going to Amherst [High School]. I played football and baseball there,” Cappello said. “Being a teacher now, I can look back on it and know that I had great teachers growing up and great influences.”
Some of his favorite memories growing up in Western New York include trips with his dad to Ted’s Hot Dogs and the Dairy Queen on Harlem Road, and trips downtown to Buffalo Bisons games.
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Name: Jerry Cappello
Current Location: Kansas City, Kan.
Previous locations: Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Atlanta; St. Louis; Amherst
Miss most about Buffalo: Friends and family, the sense of community
Love most about Kansas City: Being by his wife’s family
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Shortly after graduating from SUNY Brockport, the Amherst native was looking for a change.
“I had graduated college and was building fences and that was not what I went to college for, so I just wanted to get out and see the country and experience something new,” Cappello said.
So he packed up his Ford Explorer and headed for Austin, Texas. He had one friend there who let him crash on his couch until he got settled.
Cappello eventually got his teaching certification and began his teaching career at a high school. About a year later, he met his wife, Cassiday, on match.com.
Cassiday also moved to Austin on a whim. An aspiring actress from the Kansas City area, she made the move to Austin to pursue her acting career. While acting didn’t quite work out, Cassiday ended up with a radio career, working as a morning DJ. That career took Jerry and Cassiday from Austin to Charlotte, to Atlanta, to St. Louis. With each move, Jerry had to get a teaching recertification for that state, a process that wasn't always easy, but he credits his hard work to his Western New York roots.
“I think a lot of that perseverance comes from growing up in Buffalo,” Jerry Cappello said. "The Buffalo in me that doesn't allow me to be average or quit."
After the birth of their son, Emmett, the couple longed to be closer to family. Over the years they had tried twice to move back to Buffalo, but things didn’t work out in the job market for Cassiday. They have now settled back in Kansas City, near Cassiday’s family.
“We've been moving around so much, we just wanted to be where we had family help for our son,” Jerry Cappello said. “We always wanted to raise our son around grandparents, cousins.”
Jerry works as a teacher in the North Kansas City school district, while Cassiday works as a DJ for a Kansas City radio station.
While not quite Buffalo, Jerry says there are many similarities between Buffalo and Kansas City, most notably, each city’s love for its sports teams. As a lifetime Buffalo Bills fan, Cappello can appreciate his new neighbors' love for the Kansas City Chiefs. And Cassiday also has grown to love the Queen City.
“I loved it immediately, it reminded me a lot of Kansas City," said Cassiday. "The things that make Buffalo different from Kansas City are some of the reasons I love it so much.”
Having lived all over the country, Cassiday appreciates the way Buffalo preserves its architecture and history, something she didn't see elsewhere.
"I think that they have treated the history of the city with respect in that they’ve maintained a lot of the old buildings and restored them either to their original beauty or they’ve respected the old building while creating something new," she said. “It has some of the most beautiful old buildings I’ve ever seen.”
The Cappellos try to get back to Buffalo once or twice a year, and look forward to seeing all the new additions to the city, while also visiting some of their favorites.
“I’m obsessed with beef on weck. I think it’s God’s perfect food," said Cassiday, whose favorite is Charlie the Butcher. “My husband knows it’s a nonnegotiable. It has to happen.”
The couple also loves visiting the shops and restaurants in Allentown, on Elmwood, all the new breweries and Canalside. For Cassiday, the thing that really stands out about the City of Good Neighbors are the people.
“When we go to Buffalo, it’s just like friends 24/7, and I love that," said Cassiday. Having first visited Buffalo nearly 10 years ago, Cassiday has seen a lot of the changes in the city. But the biggest thing she notices, is the Buffalo pride.
“I think the coolest thing is seeing the friends and family who've lived there this whole time, just to see their pride in Buffalo kind of get reignited,” said Cassiday. “So many cool things are constantly popping up, it’s exciting to travel back.”
Cappello is thrilled with the attention the city is starting to get nationwide.
“I love it because it seems like people now are starting to realize how great of a city Buffalo is," said Jerry. “It’s been through a lot. It deserves to finally be recognized for all the great things it has.”
No matter where in the country the couple has lived, the Cappellos talk up the City of Good Neighbors.
“It’s really unique because it has everything people look for in the cities that they love,” said Jerry Cappello, noting the seasons, casinos, outdoor activities and professional sports. “I mean it’s just, it’s a very unique city. And on top of all that, they have great schools.”
For both, Buffalo will always be home.
“We still love it and enjoy it. I’m really thankful to have grown up there. Nothing but good memories. Nothing negative about the city,” Jerry said. “It’s just a beautiful city. I mean, people really don’t understand that.”
If you or anyone you know has a story to tell about moving back to Buffalo, or about moving away, email email@example.com.
Alison Russo grew up in the Southtowns and lives in a suburb of Kansas City with her husband, Joe, and their two children. She works in television news and as a freelance writer.
Story topics: Buffalove from Afar