South Buffalo's Pat Kane gets treated like a king
BY: Catherine Miller | August 28, 2013
SOUTH BUFFALO - Two time Stanley Cup winner Patrick Kane took time during his day with hockey’s most coveted trophy on August 24 to stop at Imperial Pizza, his favorite pizza joint. The second time Kane has brought the Stanley Cup to visit his childhood pizzeria, the lines wove throughout the roped parking lot area and down Abbott Road as South Buffalonians and other hockey fans stood in line to get a picture of the cup and a glimpse of the NHL’s fastest rising star, who started his ice time at Cazenovia Rink, just down the street.
How can you not feel like royalty when you are ushered in by a limousine, escorted into a VIP area, welcomed by an estimated thousand adoring fans that stood in line for hours to see you, and given a private room for you and your friends to enjoy a lunch break? It was definitely “Pat Kane Day” in South Buffalo.
The crowd itself looked a bit like a circus due to the vast number of people that began standing in line as early as 8 am for the Patrick Kane’s scheduled noon appearance, and Imperial Pizza was ready for it. Sitting at the corner of Abbott Road and Eden Street, the street was closed off by firetrucks and police cars, the line was kept orderly by a chained off thoroughfare and once Patrick Kane and the Stanley Cup arrived, the hockey fans were kept moving by an official circus ringmaster, John Kennedy Kane of the Big Apple Circus. Dressed in full ringmaster attire, Ringmaster Kane made a special appearance for this event which paid tribute to a special person in his life, his nephew Patrick.
Kane arrived at Imperial Pizza with not one, but two trophies this year, having been awarded with the Conn Smythe Trophy this spring. The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team during the NHL post-season Stanley Cup playoffs. Kane certainly was more than deserving of the award, having scored a hat-trick against the LA Kings that advanced his Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals, and then contributing three goals to the match-up with Boston Bruins, which led to the Chicago Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup in game six of the series.
So what do you do when you’ve won the Stanley Cup twice and it’s your day to have the coveted cup? Well, you tour your home town and stop for lunch at the pizza place you’ve been going to since you were a kid.
“He’s just a great person. I remember him coming in here with his mom after his games as a little boy,” said Dave Powers, co-owner of Imperial Pizza, “he would still have some of his hockey equipment on, and he always had the same order, “two slices, just cheese”.
One of the reasons Imperial Pizza may be a favorite of Kane’s is because when you walk in, you feel like family. Whether you are a regular and managers Ryan Sullivan and Brian Cowley and the gang nod at you as you walk in and grab your order before you make it to the counter, or as a newbie they still give you that imperial treatment they are known for, there is a warmness about the place that is unmistakable.
“Pat and Donna Kane are friends of ours and they’ve all been coming in here a long time,” said Powers about young Patrick Kane’s parents. When asked how the Imperial staff and Kane’s parents met, it was just from coming in for pizza. They went from customers to friends, as many others in the area have.
Co-owners Dave Powers and Jim Bouris have been friends since childhood, which may be what gives Imperial that family-friendly feeling. Working together at a pizzeria in their early years, they opened Imperial Pizza 21 years ago. With managers Ryan Sullivan and Brian Cowley having worked for Imperial Pizza for over 10 years, there is always a familiar face when you walk in. The awning area with scattered picnic tables is a regular hangout for the teens from local schools including Notre Dame Academy, just a few short blocks away, which saw young Patrick Kane as a student when it was named St. Martin’s Academy. There is a weave of friendship, comradery and community support coming from inside this local pizza-lovers hangout.
“We love to help out in the community and we support it whenever we can,” said Bouris, “It’s just the right thing to do.”
Pride in the South Buffalo community was felt from both the Imperial Pizza staff and the hundreds of residents that stopped by as South Buffalo’s own Patrick Kane, who appeared humble and honored at the overwhelming crowd, appeared with his trophies. Kane shook hands with kids in the crowd, stood for pictures, displayed the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy, gave a few words of thanks to the hundreds of people that had waited for hours in line, and took a short break. It’s not the only time he’s been back to the popular pizzeria, but when he comes with the Cup, he’s welcomed by an impressive crowd.
“Patrick still comes here a lot when he’s in town,” said Jim Bouris, “He’s a fan of ours and we are big fans of his,” who admits that although he still likes his Sabres, more and more he’s becoming a Blackhawks fan.
The hometown hero sat in the back room of Imperial Pizza taking a break from the crowds. Surrounded by close family and friends, he enjoyed his lunch. The two slices that he once ordered as a kid in skates has grown to a full pie to be shared with his friends, but one thing remained constant. It was just cheese.