BUFFALO N.Y. (WKBW) — On the eve of Small Business Saturday, the West Side Bazaar - broken into, burglarized, and wrecked.
"The burglary happened Friday morning at 3am. Buffalo police say a suspect or suspects broke in and made off with cash registers in the store. Police say the front window was also shattered. Anyone with information is asked to call or text the Confidential TIPCALL Line at (716) 847-2255," said the Mayor's office and police in a statement to 7 Eyewitness News.
The Bazaar has served as a watering hole for the West Side community - a community that is not only extremely diverse, but also has a large immigrant and refugee population.
"The purpose of the West Side Bazaar is the serve our community in any way we can. We want to prop up some of the phenomenal men and women who have decided to come to Buffalo, but might not have the expertise to succeed as a business owner - or their skills didn't transfer," said Carolynn Welch, the Executive Director of the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, (WEDI), which runs the Bazaar and a number of other West Side revitalization programs.
The West Side Bazaar currently houses seven restaurants and four artisan shops:
- 007 Chinese Food
- Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine
- Nile River Restaurant
- Nine & Night Thai Cuisine
- Pattaya Street Food
- Radah Baked Goods
- Thang's Family Japanese Ramen
"It's a home. For us refugees, many times you feel alone, that no one will socialize with you - or that your English isn't very good. Here all of us are together, and we don't miss our home countries as much," said Zelalem Gemmeda, the owner and head chef at Abyssinia Ethiopian Cuisine, the longest owned and operated restaurant in the bazaar.
The West Side Bazaar's break-in comes at an inopportune time, as the organization plans on expanding in the the next few months.
"We expect and hope that construction on our new location can begin in the first quarter of 2022," said Welch.
The new home will be found at 1432 Niagara St., Buffalo, N.Y.
It will feature more than double the space, plus it will house more than 20 food vendors on a daily basis - and many more artisans.
If you would like to support the WEDI organization or the West Side Bazaar, you can do monetarily through the Westminster Economic Development Initiative website, or "come in, support local businesses, grab a chair, get some food, and explore culture," said Welch.