Michael John Heagerty
Michael John Heagerty is a digital marketing director by day and a staunch supporter of local and small businesses throughout CNY all the time. He is the founder and co-owner of Wildflowers Armory and The McCarthy Mercantile. He can often be found juggling side gigs and helping others pursue turning their own side gigs into main gigs. He can be heard around town rapping exclusively about potatoes as TOTS a.k.a. crispyonthemic. Heagerty lives in “the Mighty Salt City.”
Were you born and raised in CNY?
No. Family [brought me to Central New York]. My mother Connie is the oldest of seven and all her siblings grew up in Camillus and attended Bishop Ludden. I’m blessed to have a large, supportive and extended family tree.
Why do you choose to stay and make your home here?
My Aunt Cindy — the youngest of that seven — and her husband David gave me an opportunity to study the art of hospitality at their Irish pub & restaurant Kitty Hoynes. I enjoyed networking and learning from patrons about their CNY appreciation, and it rubbed off on me.
What does your “good life” look like and how does CNY play a role?
There is a rich history throughout CNY that doesn’t always get recognized. My “good life” moments usually center around exploring that history and bringing it into the present, enhancing civic pride.
What do you like most about living here?
I think that I’m able to make a ripple here.
What makes CNY different from other places you’ve lived?
I grew up in a smaller town in New England, just west of Boston. In many ways, there’s similarities to CNY, like amazing foliage in the fall and plenty of scenic routes to explore. CNY is different because its namesake is also its number one attraction — it’s centrally located amongst the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and Catskills. And it’s equidistant to major metropolises like Boston, Toronto, Philly, NYC.
How would you spend a day off in the area?
I have visions often of how magical it would be to spend a day exploring neighborhoods and stumbling upon interesting creative and cultural events as I go. I’d start early in hopes to maximize my daylight and hit up a local café (maybe there are some poets or spoken word performances on the sidewalk patio to enjoy), because I need caffeine to exist. Luckily, we have a bunch! We’ve got tons of parks as well, so I’d stroll the [Onondaga] Creekwalk through picturesque Franklin Square (and artists and musicians would line the path — it would be like walking my own set-list) or hit up Clark Reservation and work up an appetite. Obviously, I’d have breakfast at a local diner like Stella’s because I’m about the diner life. Here’s where things get interesting: We are so centrally located, there are tons of options if you travel outside the city in any direction. Finger Lakes wine tours, museums, antiques shopping, historic landmarks along the Erie Canal and more breweries than there are leaves on trees. I’d probably end up searching for interesting public art. After that, you’d probably find me at Crazy Daisies enjoying farm-fresh foods for lunch and some live tunes. Because it’s so easy and I’m a romantic traveler type, I’d hop a train to visit a nearby area and explore — no particular itinerary. Swing back to enjoy dinner and homegrown hospitality from Eden in Hanover Square — wood-fired cuisine is always a win! Art, history, nature, urban exploration and plenty of fine food and friends — sounds like a pretty solid day in CNY.
Go-to place to eat?
I’m big on spreading the love and trying new spots. So, my go-to changes more than the weather. Currently Apizza Regionale.
First place you take out-of-town friends or family?
Wildflowers, because I’m proud of how we’ve been able to create a space where we can showcase much of the talent in CNY.
$1 baked potato season.
Favorite way to take advantage of our beautiful outdoors?
Parks. There are parks everywhere in CNY — from waterfalls to hikes, horse-drawn rides to bike tours along historic pathways to beaches, there’s no lack of unique offerings and ways to connect with nature.
A place or business you think is underrated or under-discovered?
Well-hidden gems are my area of expertise. So, I’d say a small ten-table café-style Ethiopian restaurant called EthioEritrea that has a welcoming vibe and amazing fresh cuisine is it. Although it received national recognition, it’s only been around just over a year. Well worth the experience.
Favorite memory related to living in CNY?
Being privately hired by Syracuse University to give a tour of downtown to the president of the University of Shanghai and some traveling scholars and dignitaries. I was so nervous that I studied Rosetta Stone Mandarin in hopes [of impressing them] with a saying or two. I showed them views of the area from high atop the State Tower, whisked them along a mini food tour and even dove into local lore. They gave an enthusiastic testimonial that detailed my warm welcoming and that the insightful tour had solidified their choice to create a partnership with the school of architecture.
How would you describe CNY in a few words?
Begs to be explored and enjoyed. Dig a little deeper and find there’s more to experience then you’d expect.
What do you think we take for granted here?
How many interesting items were invented here. Time clock, shot clock, the Brannock device we all grew up on having our shoe-sized measured, the first pneumatic tire, the serrated-edge bread knife and loafers to name a few!
Best way to get to know the area better?
On foot with no particular itinerary. The best way for the history to come alive is through the region’s museums and cultural offerings.
Myth about CNY and Upstate you’d like to dispel?
There’s only two seasons...Winter & Construction.
What do you think people outside of CNY should know about living here?
[As] opposed to larger metropolises, we have unique neighborhoods that provide authentic culture like the 'Westcott Nation' or Eastwood. To be able to be centrally located in the central city and easily travel to these areas is advantageous to adventures.
You can live your best life in Central New York too!
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