By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — KENMORE — In an age where the neighborhood welcoming committee is a bit of an anachronism, the Kenmore Village Improvement Society isn't just embracing the notion — it's throwing a party in celebration of it.
The KVIS New Neighbor Welcome Party will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Kenmore Community Center, 135 Wilbur Ave. In particular, residents who have moved to Kenmore from January 2011 to the present are invited to attend the free event, but KVIS President Melissa Foster said the party is open to all, from those who've called Kenmore home for decades to any Western New Yorker who's interested.
"We really want to reach anyone who just moved to the village, to Kenmore, and say, 'Here are all the parts ... from schedules to menus to what churches are here, what clubs and organizations are here,' " Foster said. "We want to make it a really fun time ... so we decided to throw a party.
"Anyone can come. We did that because we realized that, if they come to this, they're still going to be learning about the village, even if they've lived here for 20, 30 years. It's really a pretty fun atmosphere."
Groups including the Kenmore Lions Club and the Zonta Club will have a presence, as will a number of local churches and businesses including Record Baron, Hofert Jewelers and more. There will also be demonstrations, gift bags for children and prize giveaways, Foster said.
In addition, representatives from local restaurants including Marco's, Jovi's Italian Grille & Bistro, Mike's Subs and Vince's Pizza Plus will attend — and many will provide opportunities to sample the menu.
One participant is the Kenmore Village Restaurant of Military Road, owned by Manny Skaros.
His wife, Barbara Skaros, whom Foster called "The Pie Lady of Kenmore," said the items on display will range from pies to a two-layer pineapple upside-down cake, baklava and a Greek specialty called bougatsa, asparagus bivan and créme brulee French toast, Get-Fit Kenmore items (fruit and nut salad and garden souvlaki), their beef shish-kabab soulavki dinner and decorated ice-cream-cone cupcakes. Samplings from the restaurant will include dutch apple squares, homemade rice pudding and cupcakes in flavors including bubblegum swirl, chocolate peanut butter and root beer float.
Barbara Skaros said the event is a good way to inform residents on businesses that might be outside the usual Delaware Avenue business district.
"I think it's an excellent idea," she said. "A lot of people don't even know where we are and we've been here 13 years. I think it's a great idea to let people know where all the businesses in Kenmore are, and it's a great way to support local business."
At least one participating business owner is doing so to promote something still on the horizon.
Owner/chef MaryAnn Giordano plans to open GiGi's Cucina Povera Restaurant within a month or two at the former site of O'Connell's American Bistro on Kenmore Avenue, bringing a menu she describes as "Silician peasant food, a lot of comfort food ... things just a little bit different than your 'normal' Buffalo Italian restaurants" to the area, with a motto of "making great food with simple, seasonal, fresh, local ingredients."
Giordano, a Kenmore resident for 20 years, will also be donating a copy of her "The Saint Joseph's Day Table Cookbook" as an event giveaway and will be signing and selling books at the party.
"It's a great community and the welcome wagon thing is awesome," she said. "I'm happy to be taking part."
Foster said the KVIS welcome committee used to have folders filled with coupons and other materials that members would distribute to new residents, but this is more direct.
"We thought that was good, but it doesn't really give the impression of the whole village, that face-to-face feeling to it. So we decided to do this instead," she said. "This helps people meet these people: the village historian, the pastor of a church, the owner of a business. Those relationships that help to keep people from feeling isolated when they move to a new community.
"We try to make it easy for them to connect to their community in whatever way suits them best."
For more information on the event, call 877-0477.IF YOU GO • WHAT: KVIS New Neighbors Welcome Party • WHEN: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday • WHERE: Kenmore Community Center, 135 Wilbur Ave., Kenmore • FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 877-0477