Thursday, July 29, 2010

Buffalo Statler Towers Volunteer Sales Effort Status Report

When I first got involved, the Statler was for sale - but wasn't exactly for sale because nobody knew it was for sale. Sales information was nowhere to be found on the Internet. People naturally assumed that the Statler was not sellable because there were no qualified buyers appearing. The Statler was being scheduled for abandonment. Creating the website and a free Loopnet ad brought in qualified buyers from near and far. This fixed the matter of the sale's secrecy. 

Over the next several weeks, there was a series of arcane seller issues. There were also questionable obstacles: interference, threats, and intimidation from entrenched interests. That has been fixed.

There was an obstacle to the buyers that has also been fixed. A public mindset had been established that the Statler was a 100+ million dollar total restoration project.  I emphasized a much more modest business plan to the buyers. The Statler has potential without necessarily requiring the type of full restoration that owner, Bashar Issa, planned. The Golden Ballroom played host to lavish weddings and parties as recently as several months ago. The Statler has been an uninterrupted going concern since 1923. Businesses occupied the building until several months ago. The Statler can bring back tenants one by one, slowly over time, build to suit according to market demand, and steadily build on the already accomplished restorations.   This modest business plan has been made practical by the city’s lowered tax assessment. 

Fortunately, I did not run out of persistent qualified buyers to help advance the process each time to the next breakdown. We are closer than ever. I am confident that we will arrive soon - but we aren't ready to drive around without the toolbox.

8/2/2010 Update: 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Buffalo Bloviator Sucks-Up To 200 Buffalo Big-Wigs By Preserving Their Barbershop.

This is a BuffaloBloviator Follow-up Report: 
Sam and Nafiza's Retirement Party held last night in the lobby of the Ellicott Square Building.

You can view the original BuffaloBloviator post at

I missed seeing the Ellicott Square Hair Salon story on Channel 7 EYEWITNESS NEWS. I should have had the presence of mind to think of dialing it in on Carl Paladino's huge lobby TV set.

Sam Jafari presenting the new proprietor, Theresa Schwimmer.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the building and unbeknown to the party guests, the volunteers were plotting and scheming to turn Albany up-side down!
A good perspective of Sam's haircuts.
Sam and Nafiza looking regal by the south staircase.

In all likelyhood, no other barber in history has retired with such pageantry.

Sam addresses his clientele of 43 years.

Congressman Tom Reynolds will be the honored recipient of Sam's last hair-cut this Friday.

Bill Savino with The Wife (Mary Kunz Goldman)

I couldn't get anybody to take a picture of me and my Facebook friend and power-elite member, Bill Savino, but I was able to get my glasses in the picture.

The ceremonial passing of the torch from Sam to new proprietor, Theresa.

From left: The Wife, BuffaloBloviator, Theresa, Sam, and Nafiza.

I usually get thrown out of the place when I play that piano so this was a special treat for me.

Meanwhile out in the real world, bedlam was occurring to the traffic cones at the Buffalo Statler

To decompress and to celebrate, the Bloviator took The Wife to visit his favorite bartender at E.B.Green's.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

George Steinbrenner's Buffalo Connection

George Steinbrenner at his Roundtable Restaurant, 153 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo NY.
Max Margulis (left), George Steinbrenner (middle), Lou Madia (right) Lou introduced George to his partners.

I am flying Big Blue's flag at half staff today in tribute to the passing of Roundtable Restaurant founder, George Steinbrenner. Mr. Steinbrenner actually announced his purchase of the Yankees from his restaurant at 153 Delaware Avenue. ("Big Blue" is the nickname coined for the former Roundtable Restaurant building I purchased near Niagara Square because a previous owner painted the entire exterior blue and named it Club Cobalt.)

For a dozen years in the 1960s and 1970s, the Round Table Restaurant in Buffalo was the place to be. Athletes, politicians and onlookers crowded the bar and filled every darkened booth. Max Margulis, who opened the steak house with George Steinbrenner, called the place his "saloon."  

153 Delaware Avenue is the last remaining 19th century Delaware Avenue home near Niagara Square. It was called The Roundtable Restaurant when George Steinbrenner owned it. 

153 Delaware is two doors north of the Buffalo Statler Towers.

Last week I decided to sweep up the old attic down at Big Blue. I found a couple books of old Roundtable Restaurant matches that had literally been hidden by dust.  I started thinking about the last living partner in the restaurant and poked around Google on the Internet. I read George Steinbrenner was not well and was keeping himself away from the public. It occurred to me that there would be a transition one of these days soon and I felt blue about it. He was quite a guy. When I went home I mentioned to The Wife that I checked up on George and how sad it made me to think of such a dynamic man retired and separated from what he loves - and that one of these days his passing will be big news.

Monday, July 12, 2010

200 Of Buffalo's Top VIP's - Free To Good Home

Sam has created an important Buffalo institution which should be preserved.

From time to time your BuffaloBloviator comes to the rescue of an endangered Buffalo institution. (By the way, I did find qualified willing buyers for the endangered Buffalo Statler but the problem is finding qualified willing sellers. Please stay tuned.) Sam Jafari and his wife Nafiza are retiring at the end of this month from the Ellicott Square Hair Salon. Sam founded the enterprise in downtown Buffalo's landmark Ellicott Square Building 43 years ago.

The stunning lobby of the Ellicott Square Building.

No man knows more Buffalo behind-the-scenes information than Sam. 200 of Buffalo's most influential people comprise Sam's hair cutting client roster. Successful developers, entrepreneurs, judges, lawyers, politicians, religious leaders, media celebrities, you name it,  form a dream client list. Most of Sam's clients have been with him for most of the past 43 years and they trust Sam. Sam literally has had the ear of a Buffalo VIP every 40 minutes, every business day for 40 years. If only those salon walls could bloviate!

Last month while I was in his chair, Sam charged me with finding a new owner to carry on his legacy - then he charged me 23 bucks for the haircut. I assume that I was selected for this mission because I am low man on the totem pole (or perhaps barber pole in this case) since I am his least senior client - by any measure or account.

Sam is willing to give away his valuable profitable full-time enterprise to a new owner for free - PROVIDED that the new owner is the RIGHT new owner.

BuffaloBloviator and Sam.

Sam is hanging up his clippers on Friday July 30, 2010. We must find a new proprietor for Ellicott Square Hair Salon and have him installed by that date or else the institution will close. Period. Sam and Nafiza have plane tickets for a 2 year trip to the Middle East.

Interested parties should contact me or Sam.

Sam Jafari 716-854-3504

Howard Goldman 716-833-6111

7/13/2010 The Wife's Buffalo News Story can be seen here:

7/23/2010 Update:
Sam just called with good news. The BuffaloBloviator marketing campaign has successfully yielded a new owner for The Ellicott Square Hair Salon. Legal papers are finalized. Sam's 43 year legacy of trimming our area bigwigs will continue without interruption thanks to new owner, Theresa Schwimmer.  

Sam told me that the Buffalo News story attracted several excellent candidates. Theresa Schwimmer's personality impressed Sam that she is perfect for his established clientele. Theresa has 13 years experience and owns Salon Envy on Main Street in Amherst. 

Sam's last hair cut will be on Friday, July 30, and will be performed on the bigwig head of Congressman Tom Reynolds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Buffalo Statler Sale: Mission Accomplished?

" Dirty Job Goldman "

The word is that one of the sales leads from the unpaid volunteer guerrilla marketing effort has resulted in a $50,000 deposit being placed in a bank and a Statler sales contract is expected to be signed today. We had to break a few eggs and mess up the kitchen a bit, but we got 'er done. 

YES!!! YES WE CAN!!!!!!!!!

Of course, a sale is not complete until the due-diligence period is complete so let's not celebrate yet. However, this is a milestone in the sales process.

June 2010 Update:
The marketing effort has brought several qualified buyers (out-of-towners and local) to the table - cash in hand and willing to pay the asking price. Each time it was the seller, not the buyer, who got cold feet. I have confidence that the building will be under contract soon and that the successful buyer will have displayed an impressive amount of patience. Patience is an important quality to find in a new Statler owner, so perhaps this slow process is actually a blessing in disguise.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What I Did On My Spring Vacation.

Your BuffaloBloviator during a moment of reflection.

The only thing I hate worse than traveling is having to look at someone's vacation pictures. A close second is being pestered to travel or come visit them out-of-town. All these people up and leave Buffalo, then for some reason we are supposed to become obligated to chase them all over the place. You all know where to find me!

On our honeymoon we went to Niagara Falls, the honeymoon capital of the world. It happens to be only twenty minutes away. Did you ever notice how people who travel constantly have nothing interesting lying around cluttering up their homes? They are bored, that's why. Not only am I bored by travel, I'm  bored by passive behavior in general. That is why I have not required a vacation since the 1980's.

The Buffalo Statler Towers. Big Blue is visible on left when it was Big White.

I took this past week off from work and had a wonderful "stay-cation." You don't have to travel to have a great vacation because a great vacation is when you do something totally alien to any of your previous experiences. You flush your mind this way and return to work fully recharged.

I found a great way to flush my brain. I know absolutely nothing about the commercial real estate business so I decided to help publicize that the bankrupt Buffalo Statler Towers is available for sale. I don't own it but I understand they have been having trouble selling it and the historic downtown landmark is in grave danger. I own an old blue brick house two doors down from the Statler so I am particularly fond of "Big Blue's" old friend.

One of the reasons I love Buffalo enough to never travel is that everything and everyone is so accessible. You can get yourself involved in anything imaginable - probably because Buffalonians will talk to anyone anywhere anytime. Strangers even talk in elevators.

I started by imposing myself on the bankruptcy court. I phoned and introduced myself to the trustee for the Statler. I offered to market the Statler on the Internet for free. He said that the Statler was entering its twelfth hour and he welcomed a source for qualified prospective buyers. The trustee told me that if I managed to actually sell the building, he would be so happy that he would recommend that the building be renamed after me.

I began my vacation last Friday at 6 a.m. constructing a website called I finished it Saturday morning and launched it. I used a few search engine optimization techniques so that people could find it fast. I placed a few free ads in commercial real estate listings and then I created an inexpensive Google paid advertising campaign.

The next day, Sunday, I received a couple of inquiries. I phoned one of them immediately. "Mr. Chicago" owns a successful property development company in Chicago. I explained the nature and scope of the Statler project. There has already been an ill-fated $100 million dollar attempt  to restore the Statler and since then, even more expensive proposals have been tossed around. I suggested that a modest business plan might be more appropriate for the Statler because until the last owner decided to take it on as a restoration project, it had 40 good tenants and was a going concern steadily since 1923.

Monday, I spoke with the trustee again and he gave me the phone numbers for the building manager and the sales contract attorney. I called Buffalo City Hall and the Department of Economic Development and one of their top men was on stand-by alert to help me this week.

My vacation was really going great!

The BuffaloBloviator and Mr. Chicago (right)

Tuesday, Mr. Chicago flew in to Buffalo and met me at Big Blue. We wore suits and spread important looking papers across my desk (actually my desk is an old grand piano). To make things really nutty, The Wife played classical piano as I welcomed Mr. Chicago into Big Blue. We figured that would help soften him up because when we Googled his name we discovered that his child was an accomplished classical musician. This is the way we do things in Buffalo. We think on our feet - plus we attract people to our city with six-dollar websites.

We spent a couple of hours showing Mr. Chicago the vast insides of the Statler. He left Buffalo not ready to sit down with the sellers and discuss a contract. As a small businessman, I think of the sales process as an assembly line. The best way to test and refine the machinery is to turn it on and see where it breaks. Fix it and see what breaks next. Eventually you can easily sell a whole bunch of whatever it is you're selling.

Mr. Chicago heading back to the Windy City.

Wednesday, I got a couple of calls from other developers who were ready to sign contracts to purchase the Statler. The sales stumbled but the exercise highlighted where the Statler sales assembly line had its next weakness. I was convinced that this can be corrected. I also got a call back from a broker who originally blew me off. The sales activity convinced him that the account is worth considering. I informed the trustee that we now have an excellent broker interested. Local investors also began showing more interest.

The Statler Golden Ballroom.

Today, Thursday, I tweaked my marketing and attracted a couple more prospects. One of them is particularly interesting because they have a successful track record of redeveloping huge distressed historic landmarks. I agreed to a conference call with them tomorrow.

On Monday my vacation will be over and I will return to my regular job fully recharged! And with plenty of vacation pictures to show my friends.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Buffalo Bloviator's Bellow Pitches Pitched Property


The Statler Towers, Buffalo’s flagship historic downtown hotel on Niagara Square, is being newly advertised as being offered for sale through free marketing contributed by local businessman Howard Goldman. As a public service, Goldman, the owner of a neighboring property, is marketing the building through the Web site , and will also be advertising the hotel through other media.

Goldman said, “I am grateful to Morris Horowitz, court-appointed bankruptcy trustee, for the opportunity to help Buffalo’s favorite building find a new owner. When a successful bidder at the auction failed to secure financing and complete the transaction, the bankruptcy estate ran out of money and there were no resources to begin a sales campaign. That is why I offered to invest a little bit of my own effort to get the word out with some guerrilla marketing. I believe in the Statler.

“The tremendous love for this building has caused many of us in the community to panic a little and over-sell the value of this property.  This creates a tremendous buying opportunity for someone with a fresh set of eyes. The closing of the Statler as a business was not the fault of the building itself — it was an unfortunate result of an owner’s external financial debacles.”

A grand hotel built in the 1920s, the Statler was most recently sold in a bankruptcy auction for $1,300,000. The buyer, William Koessler, had been a former tenant but after winning the auction, fell short on the financing. Prior to that auction the hotel had been owned by British developer Bashar Issa.

The Statler has features that Goldman emphasizes have potential without necessarily requiring the type of full restoration that Issa planned. The Golden Ballroom played host to lavish weddings and parties as recently as several months ago. The Statler has been an uninterrupted going concern since 1923. Businesses occupied the building until several months ago. It is well within the realm of possibility that Buffalo’s Statler Towers can have a future to match its glorious past.

Link to story.

Buffalo Bloviator Classic