Businesses – even retail businesses – don’t just come to life one day. Months of planning and work precede the grand opening.

For Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s Buffalo location, the fires started burning Jan. 14, perfuming Franklin Street with hickory smoke weeks before the Syracuse-based restaurant will sell its first pulled pork sandwich in Buffalo.

Fans of the company have been waiting hungrily since last spring, when Dinosaur Bar-B-Que began transforming the former Universal International film vault into the chain’s eighth joint. “We’re going with the marble in the front, which is not typical for a barbecue restaurant, but it’s been there forever and it wants to stay,” said company founder John Stage.

To reflect the building’s Art Deco details, “I found an old Art Deco bar that we put in,” he said.

Fire doors that once guarded flammable celluloid reels have been turned into a dining room wall.

“You start with the bones of the building, and the building really tells you what it wants to be,” Stage said. “It’s not the easiest way to build, but it’s a lot of fun.”

News photographers photographed the restaurant’s construction over the course of several weeks. The results can be seen in a photo gallery. – Andrew Z. Galarneau