Skip to main content

Joe Mancuso: a Batavian through and through

By Philip Anselmo

In Batavia business lore, there are few who loom as large as Joseph Mancuso, an incurable entrepreneur who bequeathed ambition to his children as if it were a heritage.

Mancuso died Tuesday at the state Veterans Home in Batavia, the Daily News reported. He was 88.

Reporter Roger Muehlig writes: "A son of Italian immigrants, Mancuso grew up during the Great Depression and once picked beans on a farm for $1 per 100 pounds."

From those modest beginnings, Mancuso flourished. He was a star athlete in high school, class president, later became a master sergeant in the Army Signal Corps and, once he returned home from World War II, became the first president of the Batavia Area Chamber of Commerce, Muehlig reported. (And those just a few of his social successes).

But the big fish came a little later:

"In 1956, Massey-Ferguson, the largest industry in Batavia, N.Y., closed down, leaving vacant an 850,000 square foot complex of multi-story buildings and driving unemployment to more than 20 percent. The Mancuso family wanted to reverse the situation. They purchased the complex and charged Joe Mancuso, then a hardware store manager, with filling it, creating jobs and making money.

"He tried to find a single company to rent the behemoth plant riddled with maintenance needs but after a month resolved that was a "crazy" idea. Instead, he decided to divide the building and rent to separate businesses that he would nurture by providing shared office services, assistance with raising capital and business advice. Within a short time he had recruited his first tenants, including a winery, a charitable organization and a chicken company. "We were out on the road a lot of the time, trying to interest investors and attract companies to the center," he told the NBIA Review, "and in a joking way, because of all the chickens, we started calling it 'the incubator.'" The name stuck long after the chicken company left, and Mancuso would forever be known as the man who coined the term business incubator." (From the National Business Incubation Association Web site).

"Joe was a visionary, years ahead of his time," Steven Hyde, president of the Genesee County Economic Development Center, told the Daily News.

Friends may call at the Gilmartin Funeral Home and Cremation Company on Friday, May 2, from 4:00 to 8:00pm. A Memorial Mass will be held Saturday, May 3, at 9:30am in St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church, 122 Liberty St., Batavia, NY 14020. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the local Boy Scouts, the Batavia Kiwanis Club, the YMCA or the National Incubation Association. Go here for more details.

UDPATE: Buffalo News Obituary.

A new home for the homeless market

By Philip Anselmo

Who needs Kmart when you've got downtown?

Twenty or so vendors of the now homeless Gensee Country Farmers Market may already have a new place to sell their fruits and vegetables: downtown Batavia. An offer to the vendors to join the Batavia Public Market came only a few hours after the Daily News reported that Kmart booted the county farmers from its parking lot after a 10-year commitment.

"We'd love to have them," said Don Burkel, downtown economic developer. More vendors mean more buyers, he said, "and we've got room for more."

Burkel heads up the fledgling downtown market that opens for its second summer season in June at the Center and School streets parking lot (across from O'Lacey's Irish pub).

Any vendors interested in setting up shop downtown should call Burkel at (585) 344-0900 and request space.

The Batavia Public Market will be held every Saturday from 9:00am to 2:00pm starting June 28, and runs through October 11.

Thursday news roundup

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News:

• Warm weather means flowers... and hardhats. Construction is underway on the Batavia Towne Center at Park Road and Veterans Memorial Drive. Target is already hiring at an office on Main Street, nearby the WBTA studios. The store should be finished by July, and Lowe's should follow soon after. Other tenants will include: Bed Bath & Beyond, Petco and Michael's, an arts and crafts retail chain.

• A newborn baby abandoned at United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia last month is safe and healthy. And, while the mother has been identified, she cannot be charged. The law apparently allows a child under 5 days old to be abandoned with impunity at a hospital, fire station or police station.

• City HomeCare & Hospice will be working under the radar for a while, before kicking off a public fundraising campaign later this year. The hospice may eventually build a facility on River Street that would include some beds and administrative offices. Reporter Joanne Beck says: "Provisions can include medicine, equipment and physician, nursing, social work, bereavement and spiritual care." Not quite sure what that means. Holes in the story: Is the hospice building new or relocating from somewhere else? If everything is "tentative," nothing is known, and the hospice is not actually doing anything right now — as Beck writes — what is the story? Also, if this is the "next step," what was the first step?

• Kmart in Batavia kicked out the Genesee County Farmers Market after its 10-year residence at the store's parking lot. The now homeless market starts its summer season on June 10 and runs until October 31.

• Reservations must be made by Friday for an annual awards dinner for the Landmark Society of Genesee County. The dinner will be held May 3 at the First Presbyterian Church, 300 East Main St., Batavia, at 6:00pm. Tickets are $10. Call Catherine Roth at (585) 343-3833 or Lucine Kauffman at 757-2455 for more information.

• The Gensee Community College Foundation wants you to think of higher education this Mother's Day and make a donation to its scholarship fund. A minimum donation of $25 is required. Send your check to GCC and the college will send your mother a nice card. Call the college at (585) 345-6809 for more information.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

Muckdogs have radio home on WBTA

By Howard B. Owens

WBTA will broadcast all 38 home games for the Batavia Muckdogs this season, the local radio station announced this morning (the station's web site doesn't offer permalinks, so eventually that announcement will scroll down and off the page ... for anybody who finds this item weeks from now).

The station will also broadcast some away games. Wayne Fuller will handle play-by-play.

Memorial Medical Center announces Spring Gala.

By Howard B. Owens

Via the Buffalo News:

The third annual Spring Gala, a major fundraiser for United Memorial Medical Center, will be held starting at 6:30 p. m. Saturday in the Hampton Inn’s Ambassador Banquet and Conference Center on Commerce Drive.

This is a black-tie event sponsored by the United Memorial Foundation, St. Jerome Foundation, the Jerome League and the UMMC League.

The Buffalo News item includes no information on cost or if tickets can still be purchased or where (we presume there are tickets that cost money -- they expect to raise $50,000).

WBTA auction this Saturday

By Howard B. Owens

Several neat items available this Saturday in WBTA's auction.

  • YMCA Camp Hough
  • Casino bus trip
  • Martin's Fantasy Island
  • Tim Horton's coffee mugs
  • A Mother's Day brunch
  • Party at The Gravel Pit
  • Plenty of booze and food

Having run these type of auctions before, events/places-to-go always do well, especially in the spring, so bid early and bid often (or bid high).

Too bad you can't bid online.

UPDATE: No online word on who won what items, but the next auction is June 6.


Street tacos found in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

During our years as residents in San Diego, my wife and I developed a strong preference for "street tacos".

You might say, street tacos are a Tijuana delicacy. If you visit any town immediately south of the San Diego border, you can buy street tacos.

Where you do you get street tacos?  On the street, of course. In New York, you find hot dog stands on many corners.  In Tijuana, there are taco stands.  What they serve mainly are grilled steak (spiced and called carne asada), tomato, white onion and cilantro piled on two small corn tortillas -- adding anything else to a street taco is like making a martini with vodka instead of gin ... it's just not as good, not as pure (and absolutely forget chocolate or apple).

A lime on the side is nice, but not required.

Of course, throughout most of California you can find many restaurants and taco stands that serve street tacos.  In New York, not so much.

The closest thing we've found so far (after much searching in the Rochester area) is at Margarita's on Jackson.  Printed on Margarita's menu is an item called tacos de asada.  When ordered, you receive two or three (I've been there twice -- got two once, three the first time) tacos -- double corn tortillas piled with carne asada.  The tomatoes and onions are served on the side with green sauce.  To get a true street taco, you must carefully fork out the onion and tomato, leaving the green sauce behind.  There is no cilantro. :-(

That said, I'm very happy I found Margarita's.

Here's one of the great things about Batavia (among many we've found so far) -- lots of family owned, non-chain restaurants. We've been to three of them so far (Margarita's, Jackson Street Grill and Central BBQ) and they've all been a treat.

There's nothing particularly wrong with chains, of course. They have their place and serve their purpose, but nothing beats a good meal at an independent restaurant.  Here's to hoping the city leaders act responsibly to protect Batavia's family restaurants.  They are important to a community's identity and help give it it's own flavor.

Leave your restaurant recommendations in the comments. I want to try them all.

We're in Google and getting comments

By Howard B. Owens

Patrick Burk finds The Batavian minutes after launch (amazing that we're already showing up in Google) and leaves the first comment.

He wants you to know about this:

Batavia Players, Inc. present: "COME BACK TO THE 5 & DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN" BY Ed Graczyk

May 8 - 10 at Stuart Steiner Theater, Genesee Community College, Batavia, New York

This is a fun filled PG - 13 Romp of the aftermath of the filming of the movie "GIANT" which starred James Dean in Marfa, Texas. The story takes place in the year 1955 AND 20 years later in 1975 and reunites the Disciples of James Dean. A touching, poignant play that looks at the best and worst of friendship and love. The Batavia production stars: Valeria Antonetty Shawnie Euren Lynda Hodgins Brittaney Lang Nikole Marone Peggy Marone Joan Meyer Patti Michalak and Introducing Jake Bortle as "Joe"

Tickets are $10 General Admission and $8 Students and Senior Citizens. Tickets can be ordered by calling 585-343-9721 or they can be purchased at Roxy's Music Store or GO ART! on Main Street.

UPDATE: We don't think we're in Google yet.  No search we do reveals; we're not sure how Patrick found us.

Wednesday news roundup

By Philip Anselmo

From the Daily News (Wednesday):

• Karen Gerace Rowland joined the family business, Gerace's Hair Care on Vine Street, run by her father, Joe. No mention of how long Gerace's has been around.

• Batavia Sertoma granted district awards to two of its members Tuesday. Len Walker was named Sertoman of the Year. His wife, Cheryl, received the District Secretary's Appreciation Award. Len is also the group's president. Sertomans are an international group that was founded in 1912. The Batavia chapter has been around since 1960.

• Notre Dame High Scool's Mock Trial team made it to the quarterfinals of a competition held at the Genesee County Court. It appears from the article that Notre Dame was knocked out of contention by Pembroke and Avon, but there is no mention of when the quarterfinals took place. The competition — the Daily News mentions no name — is an annual event that welcomes 16 teams from schools in Genesee, Orleans and Livingston counties.

For the complete stories, the Daily News is available on local newsstands, or you can subscribe on

The Batavian is launched

By Howard B. Owens

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Batavian is on the air.

We're launching in beta mode -- lots of bugs to work out, and we still need to establish our business in beautiful downtown Batavia, New York.

Today has been mainly about administrative tasks -- ordering busienss cards, advertising, signage and buying some electronics.

At the moment, we're hanging out in Main Street Coffee.

We'll share more later about who we are and what we're doing, but if you happen across this site and this post, please register and leave a comment.  Tell us what you think The Batavian can and should do to best serve the residents and businesses of Batavia.

Official launch date slated for May 1.

Top Items on Batavia's List

The City of Batavia is accepting applications for a Full-time Water Treatment Plant Operator/Trainee (Salary $23.65/hr.) This is a trainee position involving responsibility for learning the duties and routines in the operation and maintenance of a water treatment plant.  The work is performed under the immediate supervision of a qualified operator. Does on-the-job training to become qualified as an operator of a water treatment plant. Does related work as required. Applicant must be a graduate of a senior high school or possess a New York State high school equivalency diploma. Please submit a completed Civil Service Application to Human Resources, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, NY 14020 or Background check, psychological assessment, physical and drug testing are required. Candidate must become a resident of Genesee County or any adjacent town to the County of Genesee within 6 months of the date of conclusion of the probationary period for the City of Batavia. EEO. Applications can be found at
Tags: Jobs offered

Authentically Local