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Posts Tagged ‘Syracuse NY’

At Home Store Opens In Destiny

I’m not gonna lie; I’m big into stores that sell “stuff”! I love walking around just looking at stuff of all types, whether it’s tools, fabrics, pictures, even drug stores and supply stores. I have no idea why I like stores like this; probably the colors and the eclectic tastes they offer, along with tons of choices.

At Home store in Destiny

In this vein, I have to admit that I had no idea what an At Home store was, so I had no expectations when I noticed it sitting in the former location of Bon Ton is DestinyUSA Mall. The sign looked kind of cool, which called me in to take a quick look around.

Wow! As soon as I walked in and looked to my right I saw very cool looking Marvel related items that, if I were younger, I’d have bought and put on my wall at home. As I started walking around I saw all sorts of pictures which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The more I walked, the more I saw, including this very funny toilet paper dispenser, some of the coolest looking stools that I know I’d never sit on, and a plethora of differently colored Christmas trees that reminded me both of my youth and a Charlie Brown Christmas.


Truthfully, I didn’t stop to look at any prices because I was blown away with just how much stuff they had in there. I started to wonder what they’d put in place of all the Christmas stuff once the season was over, and I’m thinking I’ll definitely have to go back to take a look when the new year comes in. I didn’t even make it through the middle of the store… there was way too much stuff and too many people getting in my way. This was way more people than I ever saw in Bon Ton over all the years it was there.

That’s all I’ve got; go take a look and be amazed at just how much product they have; I’m betting you’ll find something you like there. For now, see some of the pictures I took while in there.





Are You Kidding Me IHOP?

Suffice it to say I eat out often. It’s probably because my wife and I both have unconventional jobs that lead to us being out of town for long periods of time. When we’re in town, and because we’re not always sure how long we’re going to be here, we tend to buy very little food and try to catch something on the fly.

This sometimes leads to some very interesting experiences when we encounter restaurants. I’ve had three specific instances that I’m going to mention.

cheeseburger002The first happened about 16 years ago. It was a restaurant called Steak and Sundae, and my wife and I were out with another couple at dinner. This is when it was still located on James Street.

After dinner, I was looking forward to having some kind of spectacular ice cream sundae. However, when I asked them what kind of flavors they had, the waitress said “We’ve run out of ice cream.” I looked at her, then I exclaimed “How could you run out of ice cream? How can a place called Steak and Sundae not have any sundae?” I thought it was a fair question to ask, even though there was nothing she could do about it. I decided I wasn’t in the mood for dessert after that.

The next interesting event happened to be at an IHOP when my wife and I were in Virginia Beach for a family reunion. We decided to go there for breakfast along with some of my other relatives and I noticed they had grits on the menu. There’s not a lot of restaurants up north that make grits, which left me thinking that Virginia Beach is in Virginia, which is in the south, so I ordered them.

When the bowl of grits came, it had about a half inch of water sitting on top of them. I’m not sure if everyone is familiar with grits, but you’re familiar with food and there is no food I can think of that’s not called “soup” that has half an inch of water on top of it. When she came back I pointed at the grits and said “These haven’t been cooked properly.” She asked me if I wanted them to microwave it. I stared at her first, then informed her that you can’t microwave grits (which they didn’t have in 2001), and that I didn’t want them.

With those experiences in my life, you would think I would have been prepared for what happened last Saturday night.

I went out with a few friends to celebrate the birthday for one of them. We started out the night in Revolutions at DestinyNY with a little snack, then a round of bowling, which I didn’t participate in because of my bad knees. After an hour (that’s how they charge for bowling now; intriguing…), someone suggested we go to IHOP for whatever reason. I figured that would be cool because then I could have some pancakes. I hadn’t had pancakes since the IHOP closed in Camillus a couple of years ago.

We walked over to IHOP and were seated in a large booth. There were probably more people in there than I’ve ever seen before, but it wasn’t close to being packed. It took us a while before we could actually order our meals, and the person waiting on us was Terry. This is a guy by the way just so I get that out of the way up front; he’s prominent in this story.

Out of the five of us, four ordered something that came with pancakes. I specifically ordered pancakes with a slice of ham because I wasn’t overly hungry, but figured since I rarely get to an IHOP, as it’s the only place I ever eat pancakes, I would take a shot. I was feeling pretty good because when I get good pancakes I usually love them.

I should have known trouble might be coming when I got my soda and it tasted a bit off. I wasn’t quite sure why, but I hadn’t thought that much about it although I wasn’t drinking much of it.

About 15 minutes later, Terry comes back and announces that he has been told that they have run out of buttermilk pancake mix in the back and therefore there are no pancakes. He said that they would switch it over to French toast instead if we didn’t mind. The other three people decided they could make that switch; I’m not quite that accommodating.

The first thing I said was that I don’t eat French toast because the thought of dipping bread in egg and then cooking it dosn’t fit my sensibilities.

The second thing I said was “How does a place called IHOP, International House of Pancakes, which is open 24/7 in a large mall, run out of the things they’re specifically known for?” I probably said a couple of other things, but since I’m generally nice they were probably more sarcastic than anything else. However, it was nice to realize that my thought patterns are still the same 16 years later.

Instead of pancakes, I ordered the cheeseburger with onion rings that you see in the picture above, though it took me about 10 minutes to decide what I wanted since their specialty is breakfast stuff, and almost all of it comes with pancakes. I can tell you that the hamburger was pretty pedestrian, the bun was stale, and the onion rings were soft and smushy; ugh. By the way, it turns out the reason my soda didn’t taste right was because I had asked for a diet soda and they brought me regular. At least I didn’t get too far into that.

To his credit, Terry never showed a single sign of stress. Actually, he never showed any real emotion at all, though he did talk to us here and there. I would say he checked on us often, except we were there about 2 1/2 hours and based on that period of time we didn’t see him as often as I thought we had. Still, he had to put up with us, who luckily were having a pretty good time so there was never a period of anger, even when I was fussing about them having no pancakes.

When Terry finally brought our check, I said “You know I’m going to have to write a story about all this right? I’ll change your name to protect the innocent, since you personally didn’t run out of pancake mix”. He said “No, you put my name in there. It’s the truth and it might be funny seeing my name in the story”. As if he or anyone at IHOP will ever actually acknowledge this.

Sometimes I lead a strange life, but the people at the table were my witnesses to the event and they had a good laugh as I regaled them of my other two stories of food mishaps. However, I have to say my first interaction with IHOP at Destiny was a major fail. As for Terry, either his shift was up or he’d had enough because he wasn’t around when the tab was paid.  

5 Takeaways From The Asia Food Market In Syracuse

I’m going to own up to this right from the beginning. This is written from the viewpoint of someone who admits he’s not used to a lot of things. It’s kind of a tongue in cheek review of the new Asia Food Market on Erie Boulevard. I say that because I can’t actually review it, since… well… it’s easier to just have you read what I’m going to write below, which might explain it all. Five takeaways; let’s begin.

20150712_1605451. The first thing you notice is the “scent”. That’s a nice way of putting it. I walked through the doors and… wow! I wasn’t expecting that I must admit. I knew after a few seconds that it was the smell of fish; what kind of fish I couldn’t tell you since I’m not that kind of connoisseur. After about a minute I got used to it; I think we all learn how to do that, especially if we had parents that smoked at some point.

2. Forget recognizing most things. I immediately knew I was out of my element. When I first walked through the doors I recognized half of the produce to my right. Directly in front of me were different types of Asian sauces. The only reason I know this is because some of the names I knew from Wegmans… just not a lot of them.

The thing is, since it’s an Asian market most everything you see is in some kind of Asian script. I used to speak Japanese as a child but I never learned how to read it. Thus, I couldn’t tell you if I was looking at Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, or anything else. I wouldn’t have even known what to ask for.

3. They serve food… but… Back in the mid 2000’s, I was walking around Chinatown for the first time when I saw what my mind interpreted as “dinosaurs” hanging in the windows. I figured out later that those were either chickens or ducks; I was never curious enough to get close.

Well, I had my opportunity on my visit here and… as soon as I saw whatever it was hanging by its neck I dropped my eyes and not only couldn’t look, but I couldn’t even contemplate eating anything there. That’s definitely a stupid American sensibility but I’m one of those people who won’t eat anything that looks like the animal it is. Therefore, I can’t even tell you what else they might have had on the menu.

20150712_155822What I do remember though was looking at a couple of the desserts. I remember the Hello Kitty cake, which is in the picture here, and what looks like those colorful macaroons I’ve seen on Instagram. I’ve always said I wanted to try one of those but after seeing the hanging bird… totally left my mind.

4. There are way more types of rice than what I ever knew. My original intention for going was because I wanted to buy whatever type of rice they use in Chinese restaurants to make their fried rice with. I was hoping that something would stand out and say “buy me”.

Instead, what I found was there’s at least 50 different varieties of rice, and that was just on the shelves in front of me. Goodness, my knowledge of rice is so limited! And almost all of them were in an Asian script, so I didn’t have a chance. I also didn’t want to be “that guy” who walked over to one of the folks working there and asking them the question… that not only didn’t seem proper, but I had a feeling that either I might not be understood or that I’d be given lots of different choices… then what would I have done?

Just to add this, not everything was written in some kind of Asian language, but based on what some things turned out to be I wish they were. Frankly, I’m thinking that if someone had been filming me they’d have enjoyed the facial double-takes I had with a lot of things. Such a stupid American…

5. The last thing that kind of shocked me isn’t that there were more than just Asians in there… though not lots. What shocked me was the number of Africans. I kept wondering if they knew how to read Chinese or Japanese or just recognized certain things. I’d say at least 25% of the customers that were there when I was were African.

Also, much different than Americans, I hardly heard any of them speak, even when there were more than 2 of them together. Goodness, I talk to myself whenever I’m in a store, and two or more of us together… there’s hardly any shutting us up! lol

I had no expectations going in other than I thought it might be kind of exotic. I guess that part is true. I can’t see myself going back, not even for the macaroons, unless one day I have a specific yearn for something. However, I’m thinking I might need to know what that something is first.  

5 Things I Wish Would Change At The NYS State Fair

I’ve been going to the New York State Fair for decades. I’ve always had a good time, but over the last couple of years my wife and I have gone to the Fair and headed back home in less than two hours. At first I wondered what the problem was, but as I sat down to think about it I realized that we’re both bored with what we see.

20130901_111456_resized It’s not that we don’t like going, but I’ve gone at least 30 times over the years, and I’ve noticed how some things have changed since the first time I went, and not necessarily for the better. I also figure I’m probably not the only one who has some issues with the Fair. So I thought that I would spend some time listing five things I wish would change to maybe make things feel a little bit more fresh and festive.

1. Let’s get some new things for the Center of Progress building. Back in the day, you used to go to the Center of Progress building knowing that you were going to see some new technology along with some favorites such as the sand sculpture, the fudge in the corner, and of course all the government and special interest group booths. Last year they finally had something new, and yet it was something old, that being recliners that massaged your entire body; all of them hurt me in some way. Since Syracuse is trying to publicize itself as a technology center, it would be cool if some of that newer technology or newer products found a place in the building, and maybe move a lot of the things such as candy and peanuts somewhere else.

2. Someone’s got to say it, so it might as well be me. When it Syracuse suddenly become a country town? From my perspective it seems that the majority of the Grandstand major concerts every year are either country acts or teenybopper acts, and I can’t even remember the last time I went to a performance of anything. There needs to be more diversity in the major acts, and I’m of the opinion that people will pay more money for some performers who might not normally play for smaller crowds but might be willing to come play at an outdoor venue. I remember some major acts that used to come play in the 80s, so someone has to be willing to come play now.

3. Put more effort into advertising which animals are going to be on display on which days. The last couple years have been disappointing to me, and that’s saying something because I usually don’t like animals to begin with. However, I did try to go see the llamas and the sheep, and some other things I can’t remember right now, only to be told that they were displayed in the first couple of days and then sent away to bring in different animals that were more common. Maybe there’s a schedule posted somewhere, since those who display the animals obviously know when to bring them, but I don’t know how to find it and I can’t be the only one.

Mitch Touches A Cow4. Find a way to boost the energy both in the dairy building and the horticulture building. The butter sculpture is always pretty good, but the displays and booths in the building leave a lot to be desired, especially for us non-milk drinkers. And some of what I have seen in the horticulture building over the last couple years has been pretty boring and lackluster, and it has to take more than people being able to spend a dollar for a baked potato to really get our juices going.

5. Aren’t we New York? I’m of the opinion that over the course of 12 days there should be at least two days where there’s some kind of “wow” factor. Maybe it’s famous actors who were originally from the Central New York area; maybe it’s famous athletes who were originally from central New York, or played for Syracuse University. I think it would be great to bring in people like that, or even other famous people, to spend three or four hours somewhere signing autographs and taking pictures with the fairgoers. And if you advertise it far enough in advance, you’d probably get some amazing crowds and you’d give the public something that they’re not going to get at any other state fair in the country.

That’s what I have for now. Does anyone else have any ideas that they think would help to stimulate more interest and more fun at the New York State Fair?  

Galleria Mall Area; Crumbling, Disappointing…

Some weeks ago I went downtown in Syracuse to the main Onondaga County Library, which is in the Galleria Mall between South Salina Street and Warren Street. Since I don’t live in the city I hadn’t paid much attention to the area for a long time. There have been a lot of changes; most of them aren’t all that good.

IMAG1809For one, the Galleria is now less of a mall and more of a place for some fancy office space. Gone are all the stores that used to populate it. Some of the spaces are still empty, while others have been filled by some kind of business. Luckily, the library occupies most of the space, upwards of 4 floors, but I have no idea if many of the upper spaces in other areas of the mall have any residents in them at all or not.

IMAG1810 There’s still the diner/bakery Cristo’s, along with an office supply/gift shop, but that’s pretty much it. The food court, which was a big deal when there were still tenants in the old Sibley’s building space (Medicare used to occupy that space but they’ve been long gone), has been closed in and now Traveler’s insurance is there. Just like other cities that have tried putting malls into their downtown areas, it’s an idea that just didn’t work, and that’s unfortunate.

What’s also unfortunate is what’s going on in the rest of that block. While you see all sorts of things happening in the 300 block (where the Landmark Theater is) and in the 500 block (where the new Greyhound transportation center is), the 400 block is a mess of dilapidated and empty buildings with no purpose and not even any consideration as to what can be done about it. There’s still a large space that may or may not contain a post office; it was dark when I was there, though it could have been the windows keeping the light from escaping.

IMAG1807Part of that mess includes what was supposed to be both a community center of sorts and luxury hotel rooms or condos in some of the old Hotel Syracuse space that overlooked the city, now empty with a chute of some kind coming out of one of the rooms, as if the place is up for demolition. Frankly, it was pretty depressing walking in this area and it made me wonder how or if someone, anyone, might be trying to market it to prospective buyers.

This is definitely a major eyesore, especially being in the middle of two blocks going through some major renovation. Once again I have no answers; I’m only pointing things out. As we look towards making downtown both beautiful and prosperous again, a place where people will not only feel safe but want to shop, we can’t forget things like this, which aren’t going to be easy to solve.  

Copyright 2013