By Anna Miller
Many restaurants and cafes around town are ardent supporters of the arts in our community, adorning open walls with the work of local artists to showcase unique creations to their customers.
Aiming to become a community hub of arts and social exploration, the Elmwood Village’s newest cafe is taking things a step further. Ashker’s Juice Bar & Cafe, located at 1002 Elmwood Ave in the space formerly inhabited by the Comfort Zone, is including a new gallery space in their design. The room attached to the comfortable cafe will be dedicated to local art, hosting a rotating selection of shows, as well as the occasional music performance and community event.
“We’re looking to be a community hub for things healthy and progressive – art, food, music – good lifestyle ideas,” said Angelo Ashker, who opened the space with partner Sara Nasca. “We want to bring a touch of happiness and health to the community; to let this be the platform for others to share the good they’re doing as well. Our space will be a little showcase of what the city has to offer.”
Gallery curator Lily Lane said they will create a unique space that embraces the variety of the city’s art scene and brings the awareness of its richness to their customers, easing them into new art experiences and techniques. She will be constantly on the lookout for our city’s creative talent – any interested artists shouldn’t be shy to stop by the space and chat.
“We will be showcasing local artists, both those that are established in the community and those just emerging onto the scene, including students,” Lane said. “We really want to explore where art is moving, to mix the more experimental pieces with the more traditional. Our opening will be an explosion of local art from all corners of the city – you’ll see that we’re a burgeoning community space, a place for free and open expression.”
The first art show opens this Wednesday at their Grand Opening Celebration, from 6-9pm and featuring music by Sku and samples from their new menu. Several community-based events are already planned for the coming months – the wide-open space will host dance classes, a talk by a local beekeeper, and a two-day pop-up holiday store showcasing a variety of vintage goods. Aligning with their focus on wellness, there will also be free seminars on healthy eating and chiropractic care by resident wellness expert Dr. Daniel Wood, aiming to make healthy lifestyle information accessible to all.
The café is Ashker’s fourth, and first in Buffalo – the others are in Niagara County – and is now serving breakfast and lunch, with plans to expand to include theme dinner nights featuring local guest chefs crafting their specialties. And did I mention there is a piano in the gallery? Ashker said several people have already sat down and tickled the ivories during their visit, and he encourages others to do the same.
“We’ll attract people who are passionate about artwork and people who are passionate about the culinary arts as well,” said Ashker. “We’re another outlet for people to come in and have a good experience without spending a lot of money.”