Ken Candella's company has been busy in recent days. 

Crews from Candella Construction Co. helped board up several buildings and businesses in Buffalo this past weekend and through the first part of this week they turned their attention to Niagara Falls, another community where there's now greater demand for plywood cover over doors and windows. 

"It's just a lot to do," said Candella as he worked with a crew at La Hacienda on Pine Avenue on Wednesday. "We'll be working late tonight. We want to get a lot of it done Thursday." 

Candella's crews have been called to board up some of the most prominent businesses in the Falls, including Latina's, Frankie's Donuts, Goodfellas and Michaels as the owners take steps to protect their investments should there be civil unrest on the scale that has been seen recently in Buffalo and other cities in the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd. 

Candella said his crews worked throughout the day on Sunday in Buffalo at Bacchus Wine Bar and Restaurant, Deep South Taco, Mighty Taco and several other locations. Some sections of Buffalo were hit hard on Saturday when protests turned destructive, causing damage to retail outlets, jewelry stores and other small businesses. 

Candella said Falls business owners are shutting down and boarding up as a preventative measure. He noted that, in many instances, small business owners do not have insurance coverage for damage caused by activities like "civil unrest." 

"Basically, they are being proactive," Candella said. 

Tony Poletti, owner of the Marketside Restaurant at the City Market and president of the Pine Avenue district's lead advocacy group, the Pine Avenue Redevelopment Project, said there's also some concern among members of the local business community about internet chatter concerning the possibility of a less-than-peaceful protest on Friday in the Falls. 

"I would say that the people are afraid," Poletti said. "They hear something's going to happen. We've been talking to the police and they said they have an eye on everything and they've reassured us."

Poletti said he's encouraging other Pine Avenue business owners and residents in the Falls to stay away from a protest planned for the city on Friday. Concerns have been raised about the demonstration drawing a bad element and Poletti believes people should exercise caution under the current circumstances. 

"At this point, there's no way you can have a peaceful protest when people are co-opting the message," he said. "My message is do not attend anything that might be co-opted by dishonest actors and do not associate with outside forces and interlopers in our community." 

Poletti said he is thinking about putting plywood on the windows and doors at the Marketside, which recently suffered damage during a break-in, although he has not yet decided.

"We may end up doing it because everybody's anxious about it," Poletti said. "I figure the anxiety of what could happen is hopefully going to be worse than anything that will happen."

As to places like Latina's and La Hacienda and Michaels and others on Pine Avenue, Poletti said he's confident things will calm down eventually and the city's businesses will reopen, hopefully stronger than before. 

 

"For our group, we started four years ago to rebuild Pine Avenue and we're not going to let anyone's actions deter us from what our goals are," he said.  

"I have all the faith in the world in our police," he added. "I think they will keep us safe."

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