Barbecue. Ice cream. Wine and spirits. Chefs on wheels.
Buffalo took significant steps toward enhancing its growing reputation as a food town Tuesday.
The wildly popular Syracuse restaurant chain Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is opening in downtown Buffalo in October.
Lines for ice cream on the waterfront will be shorter.
After some delay, a wine and liquor store in front of the Wegmans on Amherst Street was approved.
And food truck supporters turned out in force to urge the Common Council to lower food truck permit fees.
Tuesday’s activity is, perhaps, a sign that spring is near and more changes are coming to Buffalo.
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que will open a 180-seat restaurant in an old film storage building at 301 Franklin St., with a menu filled with the smoked fare the chain is known for, as well as some unique items for Buffalo, said Jay Williams, vice president of development for the company.
“At each location, John Stage, the founder, changes and adjusts the menu a little bit, so there will be a little surprise on the menu here,” Williams said. “A lot of the same ... foods that we do, but it will have a little twist in it.”
The restaurant is planning a 1,500-square-foot addition to the 6,000-square-foot building, south of West Tupper Street, nearly all of which will be used to house four smokers.
Not everyone was happy about Dinosaur Bar-B-Que coming to downtown.
“These smokers are going to engulf my business,” John Lattanzio, owner of 490 Pearl St. and Cabaret restaurant, told the Planning Board.
The board asked Williams to build the smokestacks higher to mitigate effects on the neighborhood, and Williams said that wouldn’t be a problem, though he noted the restaurant operates in dense urban areas in Harlem and Brooklyn, and does not receive complaints at those locations.
The board also approved a new gazebo at the Hatch that will allow for more efficient ice cream sales.
The city demolished a smaller gazebo at the Erie Basin Marina and is spending $640,000 on a new structure, where waterfront visitors will be served ice cream, clams, and wine and beer more quickly, thanks to space for more employees and coolers for ice cream storage.
The gazebo will likely be finished in time for summer, said Harbormaster Don Poleto.
On the north side of the city, Wegmans’ plans for a wine and liquor store on its Amherst Street property were approved by the board.
The store’s intent is to lease the 15,000-square-foot space to a single tenant, likely a member of the Wegman family, said company spokeswoman Theresa Jackson.
Wegman family members hold licenses for wine and liquor stores in Rochester and Syracuse.
Construction on the store could begin in the fall or next spring.
North Council Member Joseph Golombek asked that the board table the project for another two weeks for further community input, but exasperated board members said that Wegmans already had revised its store design several times to address community concerns and that the Grant-Amherst Business Association’s proposal was unreasonable.
The business association, which has said it wanted a more urban design, submitted its concerns to the board and to Wegmans late Monday. It proposed moving the building on the parcel and several other changes that would completely change the project, according to Wegmans officials.
“Any talk of moving the building is ridiculous,” said board member Frank Manuele.
Later in the day, support for Buffalo’s growing food truck industry drew a crowd of about 40 people to the Common Council Chambers, where 17 spoke in favor of the trucks. Many told lawmakers they would like to see a reduction in the $1,000 permit fee.
“My biggest concern is the fee,” said Kelly Brewer, owner of the Sweet Hearth dessert truck, adding that if it stays at $1,000, she won’t renew her permit.
Some restaurateurs told lawmakers they support the trucks and invite them to park outside their businesses to give their customers more options.
“It’s great to market them to my patrons,” said Cameron Rector, who owns Vera Pizzeria on Lexington Avenue.
One restaurateur, Tucker Curtin, expressed concerns about the trucks. He told lawmakers that he would prefer that trucks be prohibited from operating outside of an open kitchen that is 200 feet away, instead of 100 feet.
“We can all peacefully coexist, but not on top of each other,” Curtain said.
The ordinance governing the trucks expires April 1, and lawmakers are debating whether changes in operating rules or permit fees should be revised in a new ordinance. No decisions were made Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, the Planning Board:
• Approved plans for 50 one-bedroom, low-income senior apartments at 907 E. Ferry St., next to True Bethel Baptist Church.
• Approved an energy-efficient model home, designed for educating schoolchildren and the public about energy efficiency, at 941 Washington St. on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.