‘We’re making great strides down here’: Chippewa bar owners say entertainment district is safe


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After a shooting inside a Cobblestone District nightclub over the weekend, some people may be worried about going out in downtown Buffalo. Bar owners on Chippewa Street, nearly two miles from where the shooting took place, say the strip has never been safer.

A 30-year-old man is still recovering in the hospital after he was beaten and shot in a bathroom at Club Marcella over the weekend. This is one of several violent incidents at the Michigan Ave. nightclub this year.

“The places in question are no where near here,” Jay Manno, owner of SoHo Buffalo on Chippewa, said. “They’re over a mile away from here. Police presence here is as good if not better than it’s ever been.”

Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs are open for business on Chippewa and say the entertainment district is safe for anyone, any day of the week. Manno credits Mayor Byron Brown and the Buffalo Police Department for stepping up security there to make sure people can have fun while being safe.

Aside from nightlife, Chippewa is known for other block-party events during the day.

“We just had SantaCon. There were 4,000 people who might have had an adult beverage or two dressed as Santa Claus, and it was problem free. It’s business as usual,” Manno said.

Buffalo police line the streets on weekend nights and for other events. The businesses have their own security to control and manage crowds. The Chippewa Alliance, which is a group of bars, businesses and other stakeholders, anonymously polled patrons to see if they would feel safer if the bars had metal detectors. The Alliance says that overwhelmingly, the poll showed that customers would feel less safe with added security measures.

“It looks like you’re expecting something to happen. I don’t want to live in a world that you expect something to happen,” Manno said. “You do your best to prevent it from happening and control your crowds to the best of your ability, but I hope it never gets to the point where any of us feel like we need to have metal detectors.”

“We’re making great strides down here,” Manno added. “The streetscape looks beautiful. We’re all aligned in our goals. I don’t think there’s any concern.”

Fillmore District Councilman Mitch Nowakowski will represent Chippewa come January when the new redistricting maps are put into place. He represents several entertainment hubs in the city, including the Cobblestone District, Canalside and Allentown. He said his priority is safety and comfort for patrons of these areas, adding that it requires collaboration between public and private sectors to achieve this goal.

“I am unwavering in my commitment to prioritize the public safety, comfort, acceptance, and well-being of all those who visit these lively areas in our city,” Nowakowski said. “Emphasizing safety as our foremost concern, I will continue to maintain the open line of communication between my office, businesses, business alliances, and the Buffalo Police. This collaborative effort is crucial to ensuring we collectively achieve our primary goal of a secure and enjoyable environment for everyone.”

Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native and Emmy-nominated reporter who joined the News 4 team in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.

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