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Mark Supples: Restaurateur / Opinionator

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Mark Supples: Restaurateur, Opinionator

Mark Supples, the proprietor of Mothers Restaurant on Virginia Place in Allentown, is more than a successful businessman. He’s also one of the more opinionated observers of local issues, and a fun guy to have a beer with. We caught up with him recently to hear his take on waterfront development and the Peace Bridge expansion project.

What do you think should be next for the Buffalo waterfront?

I think all the space should be turned into open public space. They shouldn’t try to attract any businesses whatsoever with subsidies. I would say a great idea that could be done in a heartbeat would be to show movies down there. And concerts—well, there’s already a free concert every night of the week in Western New York—but people seem to go to them no matter how many you have. I don’t think it’s ever gonna become a retail tourist attraction. One, we don’t get any tourism from anywhere. So they’re not gonna come to see these canals. This idea that kids are gonna be like: “Mom, Dad, can we really go see the terminus of the Erie Canal on our vacation this summer?” Historically correct, historically incorrect—nobody gives a shit about the Erie Canal. They didn’t care about the Erie Canal in 1900, and they’re not gonna care about it now. It’s not gonna be a tourist attraction, so you want to make it as attractive as possible for the people that live around here so they can go down, ride their bikes, maybe go on a nature walk. Get a hot dog and a milkshake.

What about the DL&W Terminal?

That thing is set up perfect for part-time retail guys. And with all the immigrants in Buffalo you could probably get some pretty cool stuff down there. I have a friend who has a food truck, ready to go, and he went down there and said, “Look, until you guys are ready to go with your snack bars and restaurants and all this stuff that you think is gonna go down there—which it’s not—I’ll give you guys a percentage of the sales from my food truck.” They were totally uninterested. At least the preservationists have the idea, “Let’s not do anything.” Which is the best idea. Put some infrastructure in—some bike paths, some green space, a couple bathrooms. I’d be real happy with that. Let it develop on its own. Almost everything that’s been successful in Buffalo has been driven by small businesses. And things happen pretty slowly here, obviously. Chippewa took 10 years to develop and about five years to wreck. Allen took 30 years to develop, and it’s on the verge of becoming the next Chippewa.

How about the Peace Bridge?

I go over the Peace Bridge probably 180 times a year, because I have a cottage over on Crescent Beach. The Peace Bridge is perfectly adequate for the needs of this area. The plazas are perfectly adequate, too. The problem is the US side takes you way too long to get through. The Canadian side, they get you through in like a minute. The US side, it’s pretty ridiculous that they don’t use racial profiling. It’s ridiculous to stop four fat white guys from South Buffalo with four golf bags in the back and ask them 20 questions. It should be, “Where you been?” “Golfing at Cherry Hill.” Boom. Go on. I mean, fat white Irish guys only commit terrorism in Ireland.

What’s the best part about running a restaurant?

I get to drink really good wine for free. Well, not free, but at wholesale cost. And the adulation of the masses is pretty good, too.

If you could fix one thing in City Hall, what would it be?

I would fix the entrance and exit way. So that nobody could go in, and nobody could come out. And all the people that would be needed to run this city could fit in a very small office building. Oh, probably about three floors of the Statler.

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