This Cafe is Brewing a Buzz in Buffalo’s Parkside Neighborhood

By Karen Healy

Published on | Last Updated

Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood, steps away from Buffalo’s Olmsted-designed Delaware Park, is one of the city’s most beautiful, with curving streets lined with graceful late 19th and early 20th century homes, including Buffalo’s most famous, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House. But several years ago the Parkside community lost their only neighborhood coffee shop, and residents Monica and Steve Cichon and Amber Small decided that was not acceptable. The result of their determination to keep the coffee flowing in their community is JAM coffee shop, at 301 Parkside Ave.

The partners, including Jesse Crouse the founder of the Elmwood Village’s Tipico Coffee, offered shares of their business to the surrounding community. “JAM is run through a benefit corporation” says Steve Cichon “and we were able to enlist the help of around 60 community members through an intrastate offering. After about a year of fundraising, we broke escrow and began our build out of the space– which was a complete demolition and rebuild.”

The result is a bright, open welcoming space on Parkside Avenue. Visitors to the Martin House or the Zoo will love its convenient location and the coffee, roasted by Tipico Roastery specifically for JAM, is exceptional. JAM’s in-house baker is constantly keeping the shop stocked with pastries, cookies and mini omelettes, many of which are gluten free, soy free, nut free and/or vegan. JAM also works will local vendors like Breadhive Bakery and Lewandowski Produce at the Broadway Market. “[Our products are] made with locally sourced fresh ingredients whenever possible. We also offer housemade overnight oats,” Cichon says. I can personally attest to the deliciousness of the Lemon Poppyseed Scones.

JAM is a neighborhood anchor and has become the kind of gathering place the founders had imagined. This is no doubt in part because the community has invested both energy and money in its creation. Says Cichon of their success, “The community response has been incredible. It’s quickly become a place where neighbors and families come together– but also meet one another for the first time. I’ve heard no fewer than five languages being spoken. Our bicycle rack is often full. We’ve placed ourselves in the middle of a growing and vibrant community, and we’ve seen the benefits of that. There was one young couple who said they’ve been wanting to move to Parkside, but having a coffee shop to walk to puts it over the top.”

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Karen Healy

Karen is transplant from New York City who has lived in Buffalo for 25 years. Though devoted to her North Buffalo neighborhood, she loves to get out and explore, especially when there is eating involved.