There will be retail shops on the ground level, and offices on the second floor in the renovated, two-story 1920 building at 1432 Niagara St. But the food offerings from around the world – the eight restaurants will feature Vietnamese, Burmese, Italian, Egyptian, African, Japanese, Malaysian and Korean meals – will still be the Bazaar’s main attraction.
“People who come in now to this new space when it’s finally open will be blown away by the food options at their fingertips,” Carolynn Welch, executive director of Westminster Economic Development Initiative, said during a media sneak peek Wednesday.
The popular international food court, whose businesses are largely owned by Buffalo’s immigrant and refugee community, has been the subject of features in a number of publications, including Bon Appetit magazine, the Washington Post and USA Today.
The skylit 16,000-square-foot location replaces the Bazaar’s previous home at 25 Grant St., which closed 13 months ago due to an accidental fire that started in a countertop fryer, the same month construction of the new space began.
“It feels unbelievable to be here,” Welch said. “It’s been a really tough couple of years, between Covid and the fire.” The upstairs space and a small stage on the first floor will turn the site into a cultural hub for performances and family rentals, Welch said. “We are going to make the upstairs event space affordable, so people who traditionally can’t find an accessible space are going to be able to have those birthday parties and weddings and baby showers,” she said.
Upstairs will house service offices, including a counseling service and a driving school, all part of WEDI’s role as a small-business incubator. More than 70% of West Side Bazaar businesses have been refugee-owned, nearly 70% of them owned by women.
Since the Bazaar opened in 2011, 48 small businesses have begun there, and more than 20 have moved into other locations.
“People see the Bazaar as a place to get great food and buy some really cool stuff from around the world, but we are also a community development financial institution, so we are able to help people get bank loans and provide technical assistance and workshops to expand and grow their businesses,” she said.
The new space will also provide room for a small test kitchen for classes or events, workforce training, a technology lab, a classroom hub for local nonprofits, a conference room and on-site programming.
The new restaurants are Bamboo Ridge (Vietnamese), Egyptian Bites (Egyptian), Malkia correct & Co. (African), Millions Tin Japanese Sushi Restaurant (Japanese), Orso Nero Pizza (Italian), Phyu Thein Malaysian Restaurant (Malaysian), Ramree Burmese Restaurant (Burmese), and Williams Kitchen Korean Comfort Food (Korean).
Also coming to the Bazaar are the Authentic Turkish Cafe, Manchester Place Baking Co., Citygate Market, and Bubble Tea & Smoothie Bar.
Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine and Nile River Restaurant, two of the restaurants that had been at Grant Street, will remain at the Downtown Bazaar, 617 Main St., which opened in the spring the former EXPO Market in Buffalo’s Theatre District.
The Bazaar space was designed by CJS Architects and renovated by Hayes Construction Corp.
The Niagara Street building began as the Bison City Storage and Transfer Company 103 years ago, and by the late 1920s was used by bootleggers to make alcohol.
Hours will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Parking will be on both sides of Niagara Street and neighboring streets.
Article reported by Mark Sommer at the Buffalo News.