716 / Think Buffalo’s boring?
Emily Kluckhohn Morrow of Step Out Buffalo has news for you
Emily Kluckhohn Morrow
Photos by Stephen Gabris
Attracting tourists to Buffalo is a worthy enterprise, but Emily Kluckhohn Morrow has set her sights a little lower. “It starts with the locals,” says the director of storytelling for Step Out Buffalo, an online resource for dining and entertainment in Western New York. “Get people out of the house and doing things, no matter the weather. We are all about information-sharing, accessibility, and supporting local businesses.” Morrow is convinced that buy-in from hometowners is key to stoking tourism. “I thought Buffalo was boring myself, because I wasn’t paying attention. I was just a kid,” the twenty-eight-year-old entrepreneur recalls.
Morrow’s father, Chuck Kluckhohn, is a former publisher who, five years ago, had the idea to create some kind of online city resource, something people could easily access when looking for a new restaurant or fun things to do. “My dad came up with the name, I came up with the website design,” says Morrow, who graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a business degree.
Step Out’s mission is to provide a comprehensive list of dining and entertainment options targeted to the twenty-five-to-forty age range, though Morrow notes the site has readers of all ages. The enterprise’s all-digital access via email newsletter and social media is supported by revenue streams that include selling advertising, ticket sales, event sponsorships, and the latest venture, an online apparel shop with items displaying Buffalocentric slogans and other catchphrases popularized through social media.
“We’re having a lot of fun with this,” says Morrow, who heads a team of five full-time staff, including salespeople and event coordinators, who are aided by a large crew of freelancers. She and her dad “wear a lot of hats.” Her mother, a retired Hamburg elementary school teacher, helps out at events. Two younger siblings—a sister in New York and brother in Austin—live and work out of town. “My goal is to get them back to Buffalo,” says Morrow.
Describe Buffalo in five words.
Accessible. Fun-loving. Surprising. Up-and-coming. Warmer than you think!
Complete this sentence to a visitor: Don’t leave Buffalo without…
Talking to at least five people who are from Buffalo. It’s the people who make you love Buffalo. It’s the warmth they convey. And we do have some wonderful weather, especially summer and fall.
Name your favorite spot in Buffalo.
The Genesee Gateway area downtown—for me, it’s really happening right now. There, you have the Big Ditch Brewing Company, Toutant, Marble+Rye, and Tappo; there’s always something going on—all the good stuff.
Best culture stop?
I like the Parkside neighborhood. Just walking around, seeing the historic homes, and, of course the Frank Lloyd Wright Martin House Complex. I find it very calming. And I love that the zoo is right there.
Finish this thought: Most people don’t know that…
You can get around really easily, from Buffalo to the suburbs. You can get from Lewiston to the Southern Tier pretty quickly—an opportunity to explore that would be a lot more time-consuming elsewhere. I don’t think folks who aren’t from here realize that.
Your biggest pet peeve?
When people say they’re bored in Buffalo! I was one of those, once. The truth is, you just need to look. There is definitely something fun to do out there—maybe inside an interesting shop with a DIY class, or a wine tasting in a new space. We want to help people find that, to connect people to local businesses and establishments that maybe don’t have the resources to get their story out, to connect with the people out there who might be interested.
Where do you go to recharge?
I love the Grange Community Kitchen in Hamburg. I want to go where there’s great service and a killer menu. It’s totally aesthetically pleasing, with a great vibe and friendly service. They make you feel right at home, even if you’re a first-timer.
Best place for a first date?
Well, my husband and I had our first date in Ellicottville. We started in the Gin Mill Pub and went barhopping from there. I do think a louder place is the ticket on a first date, maybe Allen Burger Venture, in Allentown, where the food is good, and there’s lots going on around you, in case you’re feeling a little awkward. We do a lot of date guides at Step Out.
Besides getting your siblings back here, any hopes for the future?
I would really like to see this whole area reconnecting, Buffalo and the suburbs. A lot of people are comfortable driving into the city for a hockey game, or they’re happy to drive out to the suburbs for football, and that’s it—but there’s so much more to do, all over the region!