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Another case for South Buffalo becoming new business hub

It is not just that old industrial buildings in Buffalo are being converted for other uses, mostly housing. A new coffee house in the Old First Ward is benefiting from nearby new housing, as well as city natives returning here with ideas from other places.

The building at Hamburg Street and South Park Avenue was a funeral home for decades, before leaving the building empty and sitting at a major corner in a historic neighborhood. Then, a group of people put together the cash to buy the building and renovate it into Undergrounds Coffee House & Roastery.

The coffee operation is finishing its first year with 10 employees, benefiting from development spilling out from downtown, which is four blocks away. General Manager and COO Bridget Morris said the business plan is working.

"We're doing as well as can be expected and we're really pleased with the progress that we have made, the impacts on the neighborhoods and the fact that people are coming to visit our store location from outside of this area  as well," Morris said. "It's been really great to see the mix of clientele directly from the neighborhood and then also coming as a destination location."

The coffee shop tries to tie into neighborhood activities, as well as community icons like the Tim Russert special on weekends, selling coffee mugs featuring celebrities and celebrating the building's former use.

Morris said Undergrounds get a lot of business from new housing in old buildings like The Barrel Factory on Vandalia Street.

"It's great to see the kayak place and the kombucha place that have opened up inside of that, as well and the fact that you can come down to the Ward and make a trip out of it," she said. "So stop here for coffee in the morning, go down to Gene McCarthy's for lunch, kayak, get right on the river and then head to Lakewood spirits. So you can actually come to this part of Buffalo and have an entire day for your family."

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