Braymiller Market owner Stuart Green said he hopes his new store at the corner of Ellicott and Clinton streets will be ready by “the start of the strawberry season” in late spring, close to the original projected time for completion of the 20,000-square-foot project. He wouldn’t give a more precise date.
“It’s a bit of a moving target still,” he said.
But he’s ready to start recruiting a workforce centered around Buffalonians – including those expected to live in the 201 affordable apartments now under construction by Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. across a parking lot from the store. Braymiller is working with city officials, as well as the Buffalo Employment and Training Center, to identify and screen applicants for the jobs.
“We are clearly committed to hiring as many people as we can,” Green said. “I would love it if they lived across the parking lot. They couldn’t say their car broke.”
Applications for full-time and part-time jobs may also be submitted online at www.braymillerjobs.com.
Braymiller started in 1941 as a fruit and vegetable stand on Gowanda State Road in Hamburg, where it continues to operate and is known for its produce. The new Buffalo store – which is three times larger than the Hamburg market – is its first expansion, and a major shift for Green.
“This is a great day for me personally, and the organization that we’ve built over the last few years,” Green said during a press conference Thursday, part of a “sneak peak” at the new market. “We’re really excited by this opportunity downtown, and this urban environment. It’s new territory for us, but it’s a long line of doing what we do.”
The market, which was announced in winter 2019, is part of the $75 million mixed-use project at 201 Ellicott St., in which Ciminelli is redeveloping an entire city block that was formerly a city-owned parking lot.
City officials, led by Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, have been seeking to land a downtown grocery store since 2006 while also touting the need for more affordable housing in the city. They had designated the sprawling lot for reuse and issued a request for proposals before selecting Ciminelli for a project to accomplish both goals.
Brown said he was “elated” when Ciminelli brought in Green, who had been looking to expand into the city. The mayor said he and Brendan Mehaffy, executive director of the city’s Office of Strategic Planning, even took “a field trip” to Braymiller’s Hamburg location two years ago.
“We were so impressed at the variety of items, at the quantity of items. Just about everything you might want for your shopping experience was at that market in Hamburg,” Brown said. “This market is even larger than that, and will offer even more than that market, so we’re very excited by that.”
Brown also praised Green’s commitment to the city, including a preference in hiring city residents and a focus on diversity.
“He certainly understands the diversity of the city of Buffalo, and that is something else that we are very pleased by,” Brown said. “We are confident that the market is going to be a tremendous success in downtown Buffalo.”
The new store will feature an array of products from local farmers and food producers, like Costanzo’s, Ellen’s and Father Sams bakeries; Wardynski Meats, Sahlen and Battistoni Italian Specialty Meats; and Upstate Farms, Kreher Farms and Elmhurst Dairy. It will also have a full deli, with soups, salads, meals and sandwiches prepared at the market, Green said. And it will include an ice cream shop and seasonal plants.
“Our lead certainly will be fresh produce. That’s what we do, and that’s why our customers typically come to see us,” Green said. “We will have fresh meat and seafood that we don’t have in Hamburg. Everything you need that should be meal-based is where we start. Other than that, we really don’t know what will develop, but we’re really good at figuring out what our customers want and getting it for them.”
The store also will include a wholesale food operation in back that will deliver to local restaurants and food service operators. Green said Braymiller already works “with a lot of chefs and people that use our product directly,” including some in Buffalo. Construction by Ciminelli and Arc Building Partners is largely complete on the store, which is two stories in height in some areas, including a second-floor office.
Green is also building out a heavy timber-framed loft or mezzanine area above the entrance for sit-down eating. Meanwhile, work is continuing on the residential portion of the project, which will open in late fall, with 131 one-bedroom and 70 two-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 650 to 850 square feet.
The units are aimed at those earning 50%, 60% and 80% of the area median income, and rents will vary accordingly from $650 to $1,200 per month. Ciminelli is taking names for a waiting list, but leasing has not yet begun.