Today marks perhaps the most highly-anticipated restaurant opening in Buffalo history as Dinosaur Bar-B-Que opens its doors on Franklin Street downtown.
For years, Western New Yorkers visiting Rochester and Syracuse have gone out of their way to visit Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's wildly popular restaurants. Fans of slow-cooked brisket, pulled pork and ribs prayed that one day, Dinosaur would open a location closer to home.
That day has arrived, as Dinosaur opens its doors to the public at 5 p.m. A preview party for invited guests was held Tuesday night.
Developer Mark Croce says diners can look forward to a restaurant experience custom-tailored to the Queen City.
"You can expect lots of great food and great ambience. They worked very hard at making a very unique, custom-built restaurant. I'm proud to be the landlord of such a great enterprise. These guys are very creative. They tried to re-use old materials. They tried to respect the history of the building," Croce tells WBFO News.
That building at 301 Franklin, near West Tupper Street, is the former warehouse of Universal-International Pictures. A hard-carved globe from the old movie house remains on the building's marble and limestone facade.
"A couple of the letters from 'International' are missing from over the years, but they preserved part of the facade," Croce says. "They re-utilized and re-purposed some of the interior vault doors and kept he original ceilings and did a lot of give deference to the original character of the building."
This marks the eighth location for Dinosaur. The first restaurant opened in Syracuse in 1988. The chain has since expanded in New York to Rochester, Troy, Brooklyn, and Harlem, as well as Stamford, Connecticut and Newark, New Jersey.
"We're expecting nothing short of mayhem. We have the Buffalo Police Department on notice, ready to help direct traffic. We expect people to come from near and far to try to be one of the first to experience Dinosaur's newest restaurant location here in downtown Buffalo," Croce says.
The Buffalo Dinosaur, in the city's Theatre District, will feature live music and an outdoor patio. Croce says anyone who wants to eat there tonight should arrive early and be prepared to wait.