On a Friday at the food trucks at Midtown
Interview No. 99
Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from Tucson, Arizona. My parents moved up here when I was about 7 years old, because my dad was from the area and wanted to move back. I remember seeing downtown from 490 for the first time and being a little scared of moving to a new place, but I’ve grown to love it. I studied English at Fredonia for my undergrad and went to Brockport for a second bachelor's in broadcasting communications.
What is your favorite part of living in Rochester?
The size. I’ve lived out in Wayne County, Ontario, and the suburbs, and now I’m finally getting my first taste of city living, right in the heart of the Park Ave area. Everything is so close! It feels like a big small town in Rochester. I like that the lines between classes and movers and shakers is very thin; I think that’s why people are so passionate and fired up here. I also enjoy finding similarities between Rochester and Tucson. Temperature and geography seem to be the only things that changed when I moved from one city to the other.
What are some of your favorite/secret Rochester spots?
The intersection of Oxford and Park is a really great spot. Half Pint is another gem—it’s so fun to chat and get to know people. Corbett’s Glen is another place that’s kind of an open secret, people know about it but don’t think to go there. When you walk through that tunnel it’s like you’ve fallen through the rabbit hole! I’m still discovering places too, like St. Joseph’s Park—it’s so fascinating. The desert room at the Lamberton Conservatory at Highland Park is amazing. They’re growing a saguaro cactus! It needs 80-100 years to reach its full size, but it’s growing away.
What’s the most unique or interesting event you’ve attended in Rochester?
Lilac Festival—it’s a defining event for Rochester. There’s a reason we changed from the Flour to the Flower City! I don’t think they play up the fact that it’s an Olmstead park enough.
What’s your favorite charity/nonprofit to support?
If you had $100 and 2 hours to kill in Rochester, how would you spend the money/time?
I’d buy $100 worth of Zweigle’s hot dogs and throw a party! It’s always fun to just get people together.
What’s your favorite neighborhood?
Park Ave. It’s really not as loud or as college-y as people think!
Favorite coffee shop?
When I’m not working, I like to go to Starry Nites. It’s such a beautiful shop. Whoever took the time to paint that wall did an amazing job. Plus, they have drinks named after nerdy sci fi and comic book stuff, which I love.
Stingray Sushi Fusion, hands down. The food truck scene here is amazing. Stingray has the best sushi in town. Neno’s has the best Mexican. There’s plenty of good brick and mortar restaurants, too. Magnolia’s is right near where I live, and they have great pizza. I also love the root beer at Tom Wahl’s.
What is your personal coping mechanism for cold/gray weather?
I enjoy the cold and gray. Blizzards, I can’t take anymore, but cold and gray is kind of our signature here in Rochester. I love cumulus clouds. There’s something cool and comforting about overcast skies—like a big blanket over the city. I like to go home and have some hot cider after work.
What is your favorite Rochester memory?
Christmas at Midtown—it was a really magical time. We never came up to the city except for Christmas. We’d pile into the monorail, ride through the mountain, and there were sparklers and decorations inside. We’d talk to Santa and then take the bridge to Sibley to see the window displays. I was just a little kid out in Williamson, so it was special to come downtown and see the Liberty Pole lit up, and all the other holiday attractions.
What makes Rochester unique?
Its search for its sense of purpose. Our defining characteristic is always trying to define ourselves. We’re on this line of cities all across the state, all trying to figure out what we want to be and do next.
Our proximity to water also makes use unique. That spot where the Genesee meets the canal—people drive over it all the time but don’t really see it. We have the Finger Lakes, Lake Ontario, and so much more, and it’s easy to take it for granted.
What do you think could be improved?
Getting the leadership and the people in sync. We’re too small of a city to have such a disconnect. There needs to be more connection. The current debate over Parcel 5 is a great example of this.
If Rochester were a geographic feature, what would it be?
Rochester would be a river. The river is why we’re here. They wouldn’t have been grinding flour and building mills if not for the river.
What advice would you give to people who are new to Rochester and looking to explore the area more?
Get out. I lived here for years and didn’t learn much about the city or explore. All you have to do is a bit of research and travel—and you’ll be startled by how much there is to do here. It really doesn’t take much. Just go, interact, and see what life there is to live here.