Until recently 448-452 Amherst Street was in fairly rough shape. The previous owner of the building let it slip into foreclosure and unfortunately nobody bothered to bleed any of the water from the pipes. The pipes eventually froze, and the property sat empty falling into total disrepair. The building was then picked up at a City auction, and the deplorable state of the inside was not realized until the sale was complete and workers were finally able to walk inside to take a look around. It was only when the water was turned on in the basement that they learned that the building had not been mothballed – the pipes burst and the new owner suddenly realized that there was more work at hand than anyone had bargained for.
After working steadfast for weeks on repairing the two storefronts, today the scenario is completely different. 448 Amherst Street has been gutted and new floors have been installed. A Japanese-owned deli named Katsu Mart is moving in and will feature a coffee bar, a deli counter, and market items. Although the building owner initially was looking to restore the historic transom windows, the amount of overall damage that needed to be repaired to the entire building meant that a cost-saving awning would have to suffice – for now. Eventually the windows will be restored. Soon the market’s equipment will be brought in and Amherst Street will have another unique business to add to the already diverse mix of tenants.
v Knock Out
The story is much the same at 452 Amherst Street where Knock Out Cuts has set up shop. Owners Nate Merchant, Dave Rogers and Monty Harper couldn’t believe their good fortune when they inquired into the space, not knowing that the building was scheduled to be fixed up. The storefront received a similar treatment, while the exterior transom windows were saved, which means that a sign will be hung instead of an awning. “I went to Buffalo State College,” Nate told me. “We wanted to be close to the college because we were looking to be near the student population. The three of us had been working together at another barber shop and decided that it was time to open up our own business. We all love boxing and decided that that would be a good theme.”
^(L-R) Monty Harper, Nate Merchant, Dave Rogers
One look around the barber shop is enough to pick up on the theme, with loads of boxing memorabilia scattered in all directions. There are photos, posters, murals, logos… there’s even a punching bag hanging from the ceiling. Knock Out Cuts specializes in shaves, cuts, hair dyes, designs and beard trims. The business is a proud sponsor of the the WNY Dragons football team, and is excited to service the Black Rock community residents.
And on that note, Amherst Street has one less vacant building in need of a fix. These additions also bode well for the theory of power in numbers. There’s getting to be a nice concentration of businesses within short walking distance of Katsu and Knock Out. After I left to go back home, I walked a couple of doors down to grab a coffee at Delish! before heading past Lucy Ethiopian and back down Grant Street. Grant Street and Amherst Street have so much potential, much of which is finally being realized.
More news to come on Katsu Mart – 448 Amherst Street
Knock Out Cuts – 452 Amherst Street – Black Rock | 716-939-2457