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Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 9:09 am

Keeping customers coming back has helped Southside Deli thrive for 25 years

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Ellicott Street, Southside Deli

Standing by a window, toasting a French bread pizza, Jeff Heubusch looked out on sunny Ellicott Street and mused, "sure beats working working in a salt mine."

He then states the obvious with a wry smile. "There's no windows in a mine shaft."

Heubusch should know. He spent 12 years working in a salt mine. He only quit when a mining accident nearly took his life.

His year-long recuperation gave him time to reflect and reassess what he wanted to do with his life.

The son of a miner, Heubusch purchased Southside Deli two years before the accident (today is the 25th anniversary of that purchase). He kept his mining job even as he tried to build the deli business. Digging out the salt of the Earth so motorists could drive on de-iced asphalt offered Heubusch a sense of security not available to entrepreneurs. He didn't want to give up that steady paycheck and good benefits while trying to build a business of his own.

While convalescing, Heubusch said to himself, "Am I going to lay on this couch the rest of my life and live on comp or Social Security disability?"

"Once I was able to get around and be productive, that's when I said, really, 'it's all or nothing.' "

That sense of commitment has stuck with Heubusch now for more than two decades. It's the reason Southside Deli not only survived. It thrived.

One hundred customers a day has become 500. Three employees have become 17. Children who once bought pop and candy at the store now bring their families in for subs and salads.

Born in Wyoming County, Heubusch graduated from Warsaw High School in 1977. He was 17 and couldn't get a job, so he went to work in his mother's upholstery business.

When he turned 18, he got his first job in a salt mine.

He was laid off, rehired, laid off and rehired again a couple of times over the next few years. During that time he also worked for U.S. Gypsum and Le Roy Machine.

He bought a house in Batavia, and when he started working in the mine again, his daily commute took him down Ellicott Street.

Every day, he would drive past Southside Deli (Heubusch kept the name from the previous owner; In the 19th Century, it was Ebling Meat Market and the location has always been some sort of market). 

On the second floor of the building is a balcony. As he drove by each day, Heubusch would see a for sale sign hanging from the balcony rail.

That got his mind working.

"I'd see it and I'd think to myself, 'man, I'd love to work for myself.' I kept seeing that and it kept fueling my idea of what I would do if I owned that."

There's a reason working in a salt mine is a metaphor in our culture's lexicon for arduous work. It's hard labor.

In flush times, Heubusch worked 10 to 12-hour days, seven days a week.

"There were days I never saw daylight."

One day, finally, he called a realtor and got the ball rolling.

Escrow closed Aug. 10, 1989. Heubusch opened Southside Deli for the first time under his ownership four days later.

The business needed a lot of work, he said. The century-old building needed an array of repairs. There was kitchen equipment to replace and Heubusch wanted to expand the deli.

"I knew the deli had potential. It was a great concept, but he (the previous owner) wasn't a hands-on guy. I knew if I worked it, I could bring it to life."

There was nothing easy about those early years, said Heubusch, who had no prior food service experience.

Besides keeping his job in the salt mine, Heubusch and his family (his daughter Cassandra was 4 years old at the time) lived in the apartment above the store.

"That's the only way I could do it."

Cassandra rode her skates through the aisles and learned to ring out deli customers by the time she was 6.

Then came the mining accident.

He was at the bottom of a mine shaft and it closed up on him. Heubusch suffered a pair of broke legs, a broken back and nerve damage.

"To me, it was a life-threatening experience. It all could have ended that day."

He required multiple surgeries, a year of at-home convalescence, seven years of physical therapy and 20 years of chiropractors.

To see him work in his store today, you would never guess his body had been through such trauma. 

"This place did help me, both mentally and physically."

So what's the secret to his success?

Heubusch said it's easy: hard work, good food and a singular focus on keeping customers happy.

A customer complaint feels like a failure, Heubusch said.

He takes a lot of pride in how well his deli team works together to take orders quickly, move fast and deliver the right sub or wrap made well and with alacrity. It's timing and attention to detail.

"I like being known as the place with the best subs. The best meats, the best salads. That's our niche. People can go anywhere else and buy pop, groceries or beer, but you can't buy a Southside Deli sub anywhere else. If you've been raised on Southside, nobody can match it."

The best measure of success, Heubusch said, is the customer who comes back.

"It's a good feeling. When you have a customer who's never been in before and they come back and they come back and they come back, it's a good feeling. Then I know I'm doing the right thing."

It sure beats working in a salt mine.

During lunch hour, customers are often lined up four and five deep at the deli counter.

On the wall above the racks of candy are 22 pictures of Little League teams sponsored by Southside Deli. Heubusch said young men come in now and point to pictures of their 8- and 9-year-old selves.

"It sure beats working in a salt mine."

A big part of Southside's lunch business comes from workers calling in their orders for pick up.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 8:46 am

'The Vac Shop' owner passionate about vacuum cleaners

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, business, The Vac Shop

Bob Youll's business sucks -- in a good way.

A lifelong Batavia resident, Youll has been running "The Vac Shop," at 329 Ellicott St. in the city, since 1991. He attributes the longevity of his business to perseverance, word of mouth and steady business.

"Off the top of my head, I'd say I get between 30 and 50 regular customers," Youll said. "Though it does fluctuate from year to year due to people moving, changing jobs, etc."

Youll will take care of anything from major motor repairs to changing belts and cleaning out clogging.

From time to time, he will repair other household items -- such as blenders, lamps and heaters -- as well. He also sells used and rebuilt vacuums, as well as the occasional new vacuum.

Formerly employed by a Batavia catalog store (now closed), Youll got his vacuum repair training from The Vac Shop's former owner, Joe DeFazio.

"Joe taught me about basic vacuums," he said. "At that time, most of it was self-taught. You would get a machine, take it apart, and see where everything was. Now the Internet also helps in locating parts and the like."

Basically, Youll approaches his work not only with a view to the customer's immediate need, but also with the average consumer's perspective on vacuuming in mind.

"Vacuuming is usually an afterthought," he said. "People want to get it done, and quickly. (When working on repairs) I try to set the machine up for that use."

He also knows the extra details that are better to take care of right away -- such as putting a new belt on the machine -- so that the equipment will not need to be sent back at a later date.

Store hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. For more information, call 343-7754.

Photos by Howard Owens.

Sunday, August 10, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Fans happy to see their favorite band in return of live music at Frost Ridge

post by Howard B. Owens in business, Frost Ridge, Jam at the Ridge, Le Roy

To say Blackberry Smoke rocked the house Saturday night at Frost Ridge might be misconstrued.

There are no reports of windows rattling in the homes of Frost Ridge neighbors.

In fact, a deputy assigned to monitor the decibel levels at Conlon Road and Oatka Trail Road said the noise level never went much above 60 decibels, well below the threshold of 100 set by Judge Robert C. Noonan when he issued an order a few days ago allowing the concert to take place.

The fact is, at the corner of Conlon and Oatka Trail, through most of Blackberry Smoke's set, the crickets were louder than the music.

Blackberry Smoke is billed as an up-and-coming, soon-to-be-big-stars Southern rock/outlaw country band, and if fame is measured by only a few hundred die-hard, rambunctious fans, Blackberry Smoke has already hit the big time.

They did rock the house and the fans raised the roof.

The band is Charlie Starr (lead vocals, guitar), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner (drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals), and Brandon Still (keyboards).

A five-piece combo can make a lot of noise, and inside the Frost Ridge amphitheater at stage level, the band seemed no less loud than their show in the same venue a year ago.

A sound engineer familiar with the venue predicted before the show that the hill between Frost Ridge and the homes of Cleere and Collins (the two plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits against Frost Ridge) would absorb all of the treble and mid-range of the music, while bass tones would bend some and carry over the hill.

The crickets, he said, would be louder.

That certainly seemed to be the case.

In their lawsuit against Frost Ridge, the Cleeres have claimed that they can't sit outside their home on concert nights, the noise is so loud, and that when they try to go inside and close the windows, the walls shake because of the noise.

The Town of Le Roy is pursuing a parallel suit against Frost Ridge.

Both suits allege that live music at Frost Ridge violates local zoning laws, even though the campgrounds owners, Greg and David Luetticke-Archbell, received a previous ruling from the Zoning Board of Appeals that the use is an allowable, prior nonconforming use (grandfathered in).

While the Town of Le Roy is not suing the ZBA, the town board does not agree with that ruling, or does not find it valid. The Cleeres and Collins suit names the ZBA as a co-defendant. 

Delays in the process have prevented a hearing on whether the ZBA decision was filed with the town clerk prior to April 6. That hearing will be held Aug. 21. If it's determined that ZBA decision was filed prior to April 6, it could invalidate the the lawsuits against Frost Ridge on statute of limitations grounds.

Because of the delay of the hearing and the financial toll to Frost Ridge with five previous shows cancelled by court order, Noonan lifted the restraining order for the Blackberry Smoke concert, but barred alcohol sales.

The next scheduled show is at The Ridge NY is Phil Vassar and the Morgan Twins, Aug. 23.

The slide show below also includes photos of Chris Weaver Band, one of Saturday's opening acts.

AUDIO: A recording taken during the concert last night at the corner of Conlon and Oatka Trail (mp3).

A seat front-and-center for the Blackberry Smoke set was auctioned off and $375 was raised for the Le Roy Fire Department. 

The decibel reader employed by a deputy to monitor noise levels at Conlon and Oatka Trail roads.

Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Sports Plus Physical Therapy is newest BID member, grand opening is Aug. 28

post by Billie Owens in announcements, business, sports

Press release:

Sports Plus Physical Therapy, a new member of Batavia's Business Improvement District, is proud to announce its Grand Opening Celebration of its new building at 5 Alva Place, Batavia.

Formerly the Genesee County ARC administrative office building, we're situated at the corner of Alva Place and State Street, right in between the entrance to the movie theatre and Dr. Canzoneri's podiatry office.

The public is invited to attend our open house and ribbon cutting on Thursday Aug. 28, 3-7 p.m. Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Senator Michael Ranzenhofer will be on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony around 4 p.m.

Refreshments will be served. The building has undergone extensive renovation, and we're excited for you all to meet our staff!

Sports Plus Physical Therapy is open daily, including Monday and Wednesday evenings, under the direction of Keith Bailey, PT. We pride ourselves in friendly and expert care of orthopedic and neurologic conditions.

Common conditions we encounter in our office include lower back and neck pain, shoulder and rotator cuff problems, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist/hand tendinitis, sciatica, hip and knee pain, ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, post-operative rehabilitation, and much more.

We accept most insurance plans, and treatment can often be started without a physician's prescription. Please contact our office at (585) 343-9496 with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm

GCEDC to consider three projects at meeting Tuesday, including Batavia Shoes, LLC

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, GCEDC

Press release:

The Board of Directors of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) will consider three projects at its August 12, 2014, board meeting.

Muller Quaker Dairy is planning to improve its data infrastructure with a new enterprise backup and test environment solution, a project which would retain 143 jobs. The benefitted amount of project the GCEDC board can assist with is $185,000 and the total project incentive request is $14,800 for sales tax exemptions only. The board will consider a final resolution for the project.

Batavia Shoes LLC is planning to purchase the assets, manufacturing facility and client lists of PW Minor, a manufacturer and distributor of leather footwear and orthopedic products located in the City of Batavia. The board will accept the application for the project and consider an initial resolution.

Calamar is planning to build a 117,000-square-foot, three-story building that will house 110 senior apartment units, a lobby and common rooms in the Town of Batavia. The company is investing $11 million which will create up to 200 temporary construction jobs. The board will consider an initial resolution that will set a public hearing for the project.

The GCEDC Board meeting will take place at noon and is open to the public. Meetings are held at the Dr. Bruce A. Holm Upstate Med & Tech Park -- 99 MedTech Drive, Batavia, NY, on the 2nd floor, across from Genesee Community College.

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm

P.W. Minor saved by local investors

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, p.w. minor

We all expected P.W. Minor, one of Genesee County's oldest businesses, to close July 31.

That didn't happen.

Now it looks like the nearly 150-year-old shoemaker will be around for awhile longer yet.

Pete Zeliff and Andrew Young have purchased the assets of P.W. Minor and Sons and hope to soon to acquire rights to the P.W. Minor name so the company can continue selling shoes under that brand.

The new company will operate as Batavia Shoes, LLC, in the interim. 

There will be an official announcement of the deal Thursday, according to an invitation sent to local officials this morning by Genesee County Economic Development Center.

Zeliff is a local businessman known for his love of aviation. He is senior executive vice president and COO of EIF Renewable Energy Holdings, LLC, in Oakfield. He also branched into residential home development this year, building a housing community off Route 5 and Seven Springs Road in Batavia (the first house is nearly finished). Zeliff is a recent appointee to the GCEDC board.

Young is a local real estate broker and investor and was elected last year to the Genesee County Legislature. He is a member of the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., a nonprofit agency of GCEDC.

The details of the purchase have not been released yet, but Zeliff and Young confirmed the purchase is taking place. They said they couldn't say more at this time.

"We're going to run this company going forward and we're going to grow it and expand it," Zeliff said. "Our goal is to bring manufacturing back to Batavia and expand it."

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Students complete week learning about aviation at Genesee County Airport

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, BEA, business, WNY Aviation Adventure Camp

A week of intense study and fun came to an end today for students of the Aviation Adventure Camp.

The annual week-long camp exposes students going into ninth through 11th grade to potential career options in aviation and is held at the Genesee County Airport.

It's sponsored by the Business Education Alliance of Genesee County.

Today's class ended with a short graduation ceremony after participants competed in a final model helicopter flying contest.

This is the fourth year for the camp.

Friday, August 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Marshalls in Batavia Towne Center announces grand opening Aug. 21

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Towne Center, business, Marshalls

Press release:

Marshalls, one of the nation’s largest off-price retailers with more than 900 stores currently operating in 43 states and Puerto Rico, will open a new store in Batavia on August 21, 2014. Marshalls shoppers in Batavia will find top-quality, on-trend fashions and the most sought-after designer brand names at unbelievable prices in ladies fashion, shoes, accessories, men’s apparel, home, juniors, kids apparel and accessories, luggage, beauty and more!

“The new Batavia store will be stocked with a new, fresh assortment of the designer and brand-name merchandise that shoppers love, every single week,” said Richard Sherr, president of Marshalls. “Our buyers are fashion experts with a keen sense of style and are passionate about finding the most coveted merchandise for our shoppers for so much less!”

GRAND OPENING

Join us on August 21st from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. to be part of the grand opening excitement and find the amazing deals for the whole family. Enjoy the festivities including giveaways, gift card prizes, and more. 

STORE FACTS & FEATURES

·      Location: Towne Center at Batavia

·      24,479 square feet

·      Regular store hours:

o   9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday

o   11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays

·      Designer fashion at unbelievable prices

·      THE CUBE: A hip, in-store boutique of contemporary fashions

·      Shoe Mega Shop: Featuring designer and brand-name shoes for the whole family

·      Bright and fresh in-store experience every time you shop

·      Single queue checkout for faster shopping

With over 10,000 new items arriving to the Batavia store every week, it’s like entering a whole new store with every visit. Unlike department store buyers who shop seasonally, our buyers are in the market weekly looking for merchandise opportunities. They work with more than 16,000 brands and designers annually in over 60 countries to offer a mix of top-quality, fashionable pieces from the most sought-after designer brands as well as unexpected treasures from around the world.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

In addition to providing a new shopping option for local residents, the new store will add approximately 60 full- and part-time jobs to the area.

COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS

In celebration of its new Batavia location, Marshalls will contribute to the local community by presenting a $5,000 donation to Catholic Charities at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 21st 7:30 a.m. Marshalls also has national and local partnerships with charitable organizations around the country including JDRF and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

Company plans e-commerce warehouse expansion in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Koolatron Corp.

Press release:

Koolatron Corporation is increasing its footprint in Batavia with a major expansion this fall. The consumer goods manufacturer is nearly doubling its warehouse and shipping capacity in Genesee County with a planned expansion of its facilities from 25,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet.

Koolatron is a leading manufacturer and distributor of 12 volt coolers and accessories, wine cellars, Pants Saver brand car mats, Michelin auto care products, Coca-Cola personal fridges, Biteshield mosquito and pest repellant lines, along with rain barrels and garden décor products.

The decision to expand in Batavia, NY, is fueled by major growth in the company’s e-commerce business. In addition to its growing list of traditional retail customers, major e-retailers such as Amazon, Overstock, Costco, Home Depot, Walmart, and Sam's Club all carry Koolatron products, along with dozens of other online sites.

“Our business keeps growing and we can barely keep up with the warehouse space we have right now,” says Koolatron President Arun Kulkarni. He adds that keeping pace with the boom in online shopping is priority for the company.

“We have seen a 30 percent compounded growth in our e-commerce business in the past five years and for us Batavia, New York is the perfect gateway in which to build up our U.S. shipping hub,” Kulkarni said.

The expansion of Koolatron’s property on 4330 Commerce Drive is under way with construction set to be completed by December 2014. Koolatron will also be looking to boost staffing as it fully rolls out its warehouse expansion plan by the end of this year. Hundreds of parcels of Koolatron products are shipped daily from the warehouse to homes across the United States. The expansion will help ensure rapid delivery and prompt service for Koolatron’s growing U.S. customer base.

Previously: GCEDC board approves Koolatron and Premiere Credit projects

Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Daphne's Restaurant on South Swan closes

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Daphne's Restaurant & Lounge

Daphne's Restaurant & Lounge, at 341 S. Swan St., Batavia, has closed.

The restaurant opened in September 2010 at the former location of St. Nick's Social Club.

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