Our Middle Main Ride this coming Monday, September 14th, will start from The Oakk Room (1435 Main Street, 6:30pm start, see below for many pandemic-induced changes to Slow Roll), marking our fourth ride hosted here by co-owner Dennis Wilson and his welcoming crew – only this time, sadly, the bar and restaurant will be closed, as it has been since the shutdown in March.

We chose the name and starting location for this ride based on this section of Main Street that the City of Buffalo has marked for major reconstruction. While these ride plans have been in the works since the winter, recent media coverage has fanned frustrations throughout our community about the public engagement process of the project – for example, as eluded to below, when there was a public meeting about the project this past November, Dennis was notified of it the day before not by the city, but by Slow Roll.

We’ll continue doing our part to connect communities by spotlighting businesses, community organizations, neighborhoods and people affected by the state of this street – below, meet Dennis Wilson, an educator and entrepreneur who was born and raised and now runs his business in the area around this major road reconstruction project.

How has the pandemic affected The Oakk Room and your other ventures?

For us, for one it just gave us a break, kinda like a refresher. We’re waiting until things get closer to normal to reopen – right now it’s just so tough with all the rules, so we just decided to stay closed and make it safer for all of us.

For me, everything that I was doing is based on socializing, so I’ve been kinda rerouting a little, using this as a chance to sit back and look at things. I started a clothing line called The Collection, and we’re still working on Panoramic Magazine.

And now I’m back at school, teaching virtually.

How do you envision the future for The Oakk Room and your events?

The Oakk Room is still up in the air, we’re waiting to see how things go. Personally, I’ve just been concentrating on when the doors reopen to approve events – that’s what I love to do. Adding more traveling trips with groups, and keep bringing high-quality events here.

How is the state of Main Street connected to the state of The Oakk Room?

Obviously, that’s where most of our customers park at. Personally, I’d like to see more businesses on the street, to get more traffic. The medical corridor is obviously supposed to bring people, but I haven’t seen it.

How has the City of Buffalo engaged you and The Oakk Room in the Middle Main project?

They haven’t.

How would you like to be engaged in it?

They could let us know what’s going on, ask our opinion. We grew up in the neighborhood, went to school in the neighborhood, own a business here – we should have some type of influence on what’s going on in the neighborhood.