One of Buffalo’s many strengths saving it from a fate worse than Detroit, though, is its plethora of one-of-a-kind, locally owned restaurants, so my only excuse for succumbing to Panera for our first meal was that it would be quick when we had cake to pick up and Wegman’s to navigate. And it was worth the journey to marvel at how accepting patrons were of sharing the pagers handed out to alert them when their orders were ready. Even crappy supermarkets have antibacterial wipes for grocery carts these days, and here people were happily handling potential noro virus carriers just before tucking into hand-to-mouth food.
A rather large percentage of diners there could probably afford to spend a week or two off their feed, however. The same was true at a quite good New Orleans-esque restaurant that night, where three of us kept sliding off the benches in our booth trying to connect with our plates. Only at the end, after a trip to the head when I noticed how immense some other diners were, did I realize what the problem was. To accommodate them, you’d need a space between table and chair roughly the width of the Erie Canal. It’s a good thing New York Cityans are migrating to Buffalo rather than the other way around; otherwise no restaurant designer who had worked there would ever get hired here, where the goal is apparently to cram an A train’s worth of seats into a Smart Car’s square inchage.