A snowstorm and a couple of jackknifed tractor-trailers had Sheridan Drive backed up from just after Harlem Road all the way to Niagara Falls Boulevard in this early 1960s photo.
The “C. Hettinger for Rambler” car dealership is in the foreground on the right – today, it’s about where Northtown Kia and Northtown Mazda are located. Charles Hettinger opened for business in the spot in 1960.
Next door, Herb and Burt Wallens opened Sheridan Lanes and its “broad expanse of 48 precision Brunswick Lanes” in February 1957. It was billed as “one of America’s finest bowling establishments, for your bowling pleasure” upon opening.
Beyond is Kinney Shoes and the final legible sign off in the distance, which belongs to the La Hacienda Sheridan Restaurant.
When “The Great One” rolled up to Ted’s Jumbo Red Hots on Sheridan Drive on March 10, 1955 – 62 years ago today – he was one of America’s biggest TV stars.
“The Honeymooners” didn’t debut as its own show until later that year, but Ralph, Alice, Norton and Trixie were stars of the most popular sketch on “The Jackie Gleason Show” – which was America’s second most watched TV show right behind “I Love Lucy.”
Apparently on the way to Niagara Falls, Gleason’s bright-red custom car, with license plate “10-JG,” pulled into Ted’s around 2 p.m. A man got out of the car and ordered “a tray filled with pizza and hot dogs,” which he took back to the car while Gleason and two women waited back in the car.
At least 20 people saw the TV star sitting in his car, but he never got out or talked to anyone there in the 20 minutes they were eating while parked there.
Ted’s has been in the same location on Sheridan Drive since 1948.
A 1969 obituary described Theodore S. Liaros as “an early 20th century Greek immigrant who built a pushcart business into a citywide chain of park concessions.”
Until a stroke at the age of 78, Liaros had spent most of 57 years working 16-hour days, slinging popcorn and peanuts first from a wagon, then starting in 1927, hot dogs, loganberry and even pizza from a small shack that had been abandoned by construction workers after the completion of the Peace Bridge.
Even with the Peace Bridge stand operating, Ted’s lunch wagon was still a familiar presence at the Clinton-Bailey Market until the Sheridan Drive location opened.
Liaros’ death on Oct. 24, 1969, came only weeks after that original stand at the foot of Massachusetts Street near Niagara Street was bulldozed on Sept. 15 to make way for an improved I-190/Niagara Street interchange.
In 1957, the Liaros family built another stand near the Peace Bridge in Front Park near Porter Avenue, and occupied it through the early 1970s, when they built another restaurant on Porter Avenue.
Ted Liaros worked 16-hour days for 57 years.
But even though the TV stars visited Tonawanda and the Front Park shop was successful, the namesake of Buffalo’s favorite dog stand always loved that first wayward shack where he spent hundreds of thousands of hours during six decades.
“It was the place my father really had his heart in all these years,” Ted’s son Spiro Liaros said upon his father’s passing and the tearing down of the original Ted’s.
The original Ted’s was torn down to make way for easier highway access to the Peace Bridge in 1969.
Back when living along the Tonawanda/Amherst border was like living in a real-life version of “American Graffiti,” Henry’s Hamburgers at Sheridan and Niagara Falls Boulevard was one of the many places a cruise down the strip could have landed.
Buffalo News archives
By the time the photo was snapped about a year into the operation of Henry’s in 1960, the Western New York version of guys like Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfuss and gals like Mackenzie Phillips and Cindy Williams had already eaten 720,000 hamburgers and 33 tons of French fries. The numbers were easy to hit when hamburgers were 15 cents each — or a bag of ten for a buck.
Within a year, there were three Henry’s locations — this one, another on McKinley Parkway in South Buffalo across the street from Park Edge (later Bells) Supermarket, and another across Union Road from Airport Plaza — right about where the Kensington Expressway eventually cut through.
Through the ’60s and ’70s, at least a dozen different Henry’s locations came and went around Western New York — most notably, the two (one at Main and Dewey and one on Jefferson) owned by Bills great and Channel 2 sportscaster Ernie Warlick.
The Main and Dewey location is the only one that survives as a restaurant. It’s now Tony’s Ranch House.
As far as the Sheridan Drive location, the area has obviously lost the rural feel of this photo. The gas station selling 26¢ gas at its two pumps was soon replaced by a Firestone shop. The Henry’s lot has been filled in with a small strip plaza and a former Denny’s restaurant.
Forty years ago this week, retailers and shoppers in Buffalo were grappling with a holiday shopping question so weighty it got ink in The News: Should department stores be open on Sundays?
Buffalo News archives
Christmas shoppers in Amherst had it both ways. The Two Guys store on Sheridan Drive near Niagara Falls Boulevard (now the site of Home Goods) had a full parking lot, while Twin Fair on Maple Road (now the site of Tops) was empty, dark and closed on Sunday.