Buffalo

Goo Goo Dolls’ Superstar Car Wash Locations: 20 Years Later

Paul, a Goo Goo Dolls fan who has seen the band in concert six times, issued a challenge: locate the six buildings pictured in the liner notes of Superstar Car Wash (the Dolls’ fourth album) and see what they look like today.

All of the buildings are located in Buffalo, which is where lead singer John Rzeznik grew up. The original photos were taken at least 20 years ago, and with the exception of one location they’ve all changed quite a bit.

(Photo credit: The “Before” photos were taken by Frank Luterek, which I scanned from the Goo Goo Dolls’ Superstar Car Wash liner notes. The “After” images were taken by me.)

This is the actual Superstar Car Wash (228 William Street). What a cool, funky place!

Superstar Car Wash

This is what the car wash looks like now.

Superstar Car Wash

I actually have a funny story about the car wash. This location was my first stop, and in order to get a good angle I had to cross the street and stand in the median. As I walked back toward the building, an older gentleman emerged from the structure and asked why I was taking photos. I explained my mission, and although he looked confused, he appeared to believe me.

The (former) car wash’s large door was open and I could see several vehicles inside. To make conversation, I asked if he was using the building to work on cars. He quickly assured me he was not. “This building is being used for storage,” he said.

I thanked him and returned to my car, which was parked on a side street not far away. As I prepared to leave, another man tapped on my driver’s side window. He looked reputable so I lowered the window about a quarter of the way to see what he wanted.

It turns out he works for the water company and he had seen me taking photos of the car wash as well. He asked if I was taking pictures because I was interested in buying the place, and I told him I was not. He told me he’s come by a few times trying to catch the old man actually doing business inside the car wash because the water bill isn’t being paid but someone is using it.

On to the next stop!

In my opinion, this building at 384 Broadway is the best-looking of the bunch. After reading comments on this post from Buffalo Rising, I discovered it used to be the location of the Buffalo Awning and Tent Company.

09-18-2013

And today? Thanks to Help USA, it is now home to “25 units of service-enriched housing for formerly homeless adults.” How cool is that?

P1030117

Stransky’s Hardware (located at 756 Broadway) was up next:

Stransky's

Today, Stransky’s has been painted white and the identifying sign has been removed. The windows in the middle are now clear, there’s no longer a mailbox out front, and only one of the four round decorative doo-dads remain at the top (obviously I don’t know my architectural terms). The hardware store moved across the street in 1995; this building currently sits unused.

Stransky's

This is what the Caribbean Experience restaurant used to look like:

Caribbean Experience Restaurant

The facade is different, but the restaurant (located at 2897 Bailey Avenue) is still open!

Caribbean Experience Restaurant

The House O’ Quinn restaurant was located at 51 W Chippewa Street. It has the distinction of being the first place Paul consumed a (legal) alcoholic beverage on his 21st birthday.

Erin Go Bragh

This building is still open as well, but it is now City Tavern.

City Tavern

Twenty years ago, this building at 632 Broadway was the Mason Food Market:

Mason Food Market

Sadly, this was the only building on my tour which no longer exists. I’m not sure when it was torn down, but it’s been long enough that you can’t tell anything was ever there.

Street Corner

What will these locations look like in another 20 years? Hopefully I’ll be around to find out.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Lisa Saunders November 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

    AWESOME!! What a cool idea! SSCW is my favorite Goo album. Where is the building/doorway that they’re leaning against on the back of the CD?

    • Reply Zan November 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      That’s a good question, Lisa. There is no identifying landmark on that photo so we couldn’t figure out where it was taken! Maybe I should try to contact the photographer and see if he remembers so I can finish up the post properly. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Reply Brian May 2, 2016 at 11:34 pm

        I saw his reply on this thread…but have you ever figured out where that back cover photo was taken?

        • Reply Zandria May 8, 2016 at 9:34 pm

          Sorry, Brian! I have not.

  • Reply Jeanie November 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I’ve followed the Goos for the past 20 years myself and have seen them at least 50 times!! I love this adventure you took yourself on. I often thought about doing that, but I’m in the D.C. area… Thanks for sharing – I enjoyed the ride!

    • Reply Zan November 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Wow, Jeanie! 50 times? You’re a super-fan! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m glad I was able to give you this view of the album landmarks. (P.S. I just moved to Buffalo from DC in July!)

  • Reply Frank M. Luterek Photographer (retired and disabled now) November 11, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Hello Zan and Paul. Has it been 20 years already? I am Frank Luterek, the bands photographer back in the early nineties when their record label Metal Blades sold their contract to Warner Brothers. That was their big break that made them famous all over the world, thanks to my talent as an artist and still photographer of course. I also have photographed the band’s first live local concert, after Super Star Carwash CD, at the Tralfamadore Cafe in downtown Buffalo plus their first big concert at the Connecticut Street Armory on Niagara Street. It is a pleasure to see my work being appreciated so much today. I did a similar project back in the eighties doing a re-photography survey of Downtown Buffalo when the Subways were just a giant whole in the ground. I also documented George Tutuska and Nadine’s wedding at the Moose Hall downtown, a really cool retro place downtown. George was the original drummer with the band during the car wash era and John Rzeznik’s sister Gladys’s wedding also. We are doing a benefit on December 8 auctioning off a large mounted print of the cover shot signed if you or anyone else are interested. I have a film archive of all original art that I need to deal with with the GOOS and many projects I have worked on in the past 35 years. I am glad you are so very interested in the history of the GOOS and appreciate the hard work and effort it took to create the Art work for the CD with Bebra Norcross, the art director I pesonally worked with at Warner.

    • Reply Zan November 11, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      I very much appreciate your feedback, Mr. Luterek! If you have any insight on where the photo on the back of the Superstar Car Wash CD was taken, I’d love to know where I can find it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply Jane December 23, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Hi Frank! Is it true (and I’m reading my own copy straight from the Goo’s Superstar Carwash CD) that they made a spelling error in your last name in the liner notes? “Cover & Building Photographs by Frank Luterec” – I’m just glad that it didn’t hinder your career in any way! I know I’m a few years too late, but I’m very interested in owning some GOOS original artwork! I hope the auction went well! I came looking for this today because I saw that they tore the car wash down a few months ago.

  • Reply Garvost November 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    this was a very lovely piece. fantastic photos. thanks for the update.

    • Reply Zan November 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks so much!

  • Reply Lisa Saunders November 16, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Mr. Luterek, please come back and tell us where the pic was taken! lol

  • Reply Christopher Kennedy January 16, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Finials. The four rounded decorative doo-dads at at Strasky’s are finials. Amazing article.

  • Reply Frank Luterek May 2, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    The photographs for Super Star Car Wash were shot in four film formats plus black and white and color polaroid, positive and negative film. I shot numerous polaroid test shots in 4×5 and 2 1/4. The 2 1/4 square format was chosen for all of the shots. I was working with a Sinar P2 4×5, Hasselblad CXi bodies with a 40MM Carl Zeiss lens and a Canon F1 with a 20mm lens for these shots. The pictures were taken in 1993. I had to get property releases from both the business and building owners in order to be able to use the photographs legally for commercial purposes. The cover shot and a few others were taken on a twelve foot ladder surrounded by orange cones from the middle of the street. Permits are required and purchased from the city. As far as the shot of the Goos against that purple wall, I did not take it and do not know where it was taken. Wish I could answer your question. My best guess would be Allentown or somewhere on Elmwood.

  • Reply Pablo June 7, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    Love this post. Superstar Car Wash is one of those albums that struck a cord for me because it was a bunch of guys who lived thousands of miles away from me but the vibe of the pictures and the tone of the music just captured life for me at the time. 22 years later, oil money has seen many of the old landmarks in my town demolished and replaced with shiny new ones and there’s a whole lot less soul. Might be I’m just getting old. Superstar Car Wash still holds up, though.

  • Reply howard h house June 18, 2021 at 7:53 am

    Great post.

    Some old friends brought up how they loved the album Jed by the GGDs on a text chain a couple months ago. I ended up listening to some of the older albums recently to reminisce, and remembered the photos included on SSCW, and wanted to find locations. Turns out, you’ve already done a fun post about it.

    I’ve also been wondering if anything has changed since your post, and using Google’s street view it looks like the building photo on the cover of the SSCW album is pretty different these days.

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/228+William+St,+Buffalo,+NY+14204/@42.8849771,-78.8631194,3a,75y,359.43h,90.88t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1skRGCSJYW8sbE9mlGWcbxBw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x89d31241b2a1e04b:0x30812058a72c6738!2s228+William+St,+Buffalo,+NY+14204!3b1!8m2!3d42.8852212!4d-78.8630574!3m4!1s0x89d31241b2a1e04b:0x30812058a72c6738!8m2!3d42.8852212!4d-78.8630574

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