Not quite MidWest and not quite East Coast, Buffalo is unique for its combination of trendy and time-honored tradition. This combination makes The Cereal Spot café essentially Buffalo in a bowl.
Cereal cafes have popped up around the world, but the fairly new concept enjoys a special resonance in Western New York: We make cereal here.
In October 1941, General Mills started making CheeriOats – billed as the world’s first ready-to-eat oat cereal. Almost 80 years later, the plant’s cereal aromatics still perfume our city, but the old plant now has many essential modern upgrades – like packaging automation and eco-friendly LED lighting.
Galvanizing a modern concept and an American classic, The Cereal Spot is a natural fit with the city, according to co-owner Eric Dacey.
“Cereal always has that nostalgic feel to it,” he told us. “No matter how old you are, you remember sitting at the kitchen table and reading the back of the box or sitting in front of the TV, watching cartoons and eating a bowl of cereal.”
Even though cereal has been around for generations, or maybe because of it, the debut of The Cereal Spot has lit up social media.
“The response has been from every age,” Dacey said. “We had a group full of ladies from a senior citizens center say they’re getting in a van and heading over. We’ve seen young guys asking ladies out on dates through our page. There are parents looking for a night out on Hertel, and there’s the younger teenage crowd.”
The cafe offers 70 different cereals. Those cereals can be combined with 8 types of milk, more than 15 different toppings and even Perry’s ice cream. Recently, I was able to pop in between Remote Kindergarten lectures, only to find half of North Buffalo’s remote schooling population also decided to pop in at the same time. Of course, the cafe is following strict social distancing and mask guidelines, but that being said — it is a small space for these unprecedented times.
The cafe’s range of cereals was on full display. Behind the countertop with a kid-friendly height, large clear dispensers held the 20 most popular cereals in America, including Lucky Charms, Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch. At the end of the counter was a freezer case filled with Perry’s Ice Cream, for those who want some sweet creaminess with their crunch. At the other end of the counter was a display case filled with cupcakes made with cereal milk from the Sweet Whisk. Rice Krispy Treat-style confections from The Chandler Street bakery were also available.
Through counter service, we ordered a Lucky Charms-Cocoa Pebbles with whole milk combo ($6), and a Cinnamon Toast Crunch-Fruity Pebbles with almond milk combo. We also tried a Fruity Pebbles cereal milk cupcake ($5) that imparted a subtle neon-hued fruitiness.
Based on our visit and The Cereal Spot Facebook page, it’s pretty obvious that the cafe is a hit with kids, and with North Buffalo being a hub of young families, the location makes perfect sense.
“One of the big things about the Hertel neighborhood is – how artistic it is,” said co-owner Ranger Korpanty. “So, we knew that we could take our idea in an artistic direction.”
Dacey added that the family atmosphere in North Buffalo also translates into massive support for locally-owned businesses on Hertel: “You go down the entire strip of Hertel, and it’s all mom-and-pop places; whether it’s a restaurant, bar, shop or hair salon. It’s all local, and the community definitely supports the neighborhood businesses.”
Given the recent strife between Black Lives Matter protestors and patrons of a certain bar on the other side of Hertel, it’s nice to remember that: 1) The City of Good Neighbors supports its own, and 2) we can all agree on getting together over a bowl of milky cereal, baby.
1212 Hertel Avenue, Buffalo 14216
Hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday 7 a.m. – 1 p.m.