Winter's nasty force is on display and streets are scarcely populated, but there's one place on Main Street that is impervious to Buffalo's winter blues: Amy's Place.
Amy's Place – a Lebanese and Mediterranean restaurant – is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The small diner – located at 3234 Main St. – remains unaltered by the weather and continues to be bright despite the gloomy outdoors, but some students think the sometimes-poor service outweighs the quality of food.
The colorful walls of the diner are covered with hip images, which the owners redecorate every month. The songs that are played throughout the day all come from the iPods of the employees, portraying the openness and freedom the workers feel with each other and the customers.
According to Greg Kempf, co-manager of Amy's Place, the 13 employees that work there are so close that they consider themselves to be one big family. Like Kempf, a lot of them have been working there for as many as 15 years.
Kempf believes the casual atmosphere that permeates the diner is something that separates Amy's Place from other local eateries, but UB students give the restaurant mixed reviews.
"I went to Amy's Place right before I left [for winter break]," said Chris Passarelli, a sophomore accounting major. "The food was great but the service wasn't very good. I was waiting inside the restaurant for a good 15-20 minutes without any kind of service."
While Passarelli enjoyed the meal, he said the workers seemed pissed off at the customers.
The service isn't the only thing that bothers patrons of Amy's Place.
"Amy's Place is tiny and always overcrowded on weekends," said Allie Funk, a senior psychology major. "It's cute but Family Tree (another local diner located on Bailey Ave.) is far superior and is five minutes from either campus."
Main St. appears dead this time of year because students enjoy staying in to eat and drink instead of freezing outside, according to Dillon Galvis, a sophomore architecture major. Amy's Place has housed hungry, cold students for over 30 years.
Amy Betros founded the restaurant in 1981. She originally worked at Grand Peach Lebanese Bakery on Kenmore, which made pita bread, tabulee, humus, etc. That's where the inspiration for the diner came from, according to Kempf.
She sold the diner to her employees in the early '90s, and she now runs St. Luke's Mission of Mercy. She previously served plates of scrumptious food at the restaurant; her new mission is to serve those in need in one of Buffalo's poorest areas, helping them get food, shelter, and educational help.
Since Betros opened the diner, the menu has evolved. Due to a popular rise in healthier foods, there are more vegan and vegetarian options offered.
The early bird special, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. is one of the cheapest meals in Buffalo, consisting of breakfast items like two eggs, home fries, and toast, for just $1.99
"People come in and want to order an item [but] want it done as a variation of [what's on the menu] – we're pretty accommodating in that way," Kempf said.
The names of the meals are actually named after people who worked at Amy's Place. Cuisines such as the Margie Meal, Dee-Lite, and Anne Kabobs all represent old employees.
"We get a good mix of people, families [in addition to college students]," Kempf said. "It's kind of all across the board. We have a lot of regulars – people that come in four or five times a week."
The owners and employees attempt to create a comfortable environment through music, photographs, and a downtown New York City feel. There are complaints about some elements of Amy's Place, but the restaurant still manages to receive around 400-500 customers per day.
Many UB students are turned off by the attitudes of the servers and long wait, while others think that the hometown feel and good food are worth the risk.