As a developer, Rocco Termini is known for being risky. If his newest business venture is a success, he might also be known for being risqué.
Termini has filed plans with the city for a 3,000-square-foot, two-story restaurant building at 128 Genesee St., near the site where Uniland Development Co. is now building Catholic Health System’s new corporate headquarters and training facility.
The restaurant would specialize in hot dogs. The proposed name? Dog é Style.
Termini’s proposal was approved by the Planning Board this morning. The name is not the only thing about Termini’s latest venture that makes it stand out; Termini plans to build the restaurant using eight to 10 metal shipping containers that can easily be attached to each other.
“It’s a very cool concept, and it’s sustainable. It’s totally green. Everything is recycled,” he said. “Part of the coolness of this whole thing is you walk into a container.”
As unusual as that may sound to city planners, it’s fair to say that a business with a name that has a sexual meaning could gives pause to residents and city officials. But Termini said he is not concerned; he said he believes the name will help, not hurt, business.
“We’re so conservative downtown,” he said. “You’re appealing to younger people. I’m not looking for 70- and 80-year-olds to come there.”
This would be far from the first business to trade on sexual imagery in its name. The restaurant franchise Hooters has been doing it for years. And a perfunctory Google search shows that “Doggie Style” is a business name favored by dog groomers in many cities.
Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen, whose Ellicott District includes the proposed restaurant, said he was not aware of any legal powers city lawmakers have to regulate a restaurant’s name.
“I don’t know of anything legally that would prohibit a person from naming a restaurant anything,” Pridgen said
However, there are ways the Council could hold up a project if there were community objections, and if Council approval of the project were required, Pridgen said.
The Genesee Street restaurant is not on the Council’s agenda yet, and it is possible lawmakers will never have to vote on it, he said.
The new restaurant, sandwiched between two existing buildings, is designed to serve the employees of Catholic Health, who will be moving to the new six-story, 139,000-square-foot complex within six months.
It will be a counter-service place with hot dogs and beer, Termini said: “all kind of hot dogs, gourmet and not, very eclectic.” The restaurant will aim for $5 dog-and-beer specials, he said, and have something for vegetarians. “It’s not going to be your father’s hot dog.”
Termini would not disclose the operator of the new restaurant.
A rendering by BMS Design Studio shows the two levels of the restaurant painted bright blue, with a fenced patio in front of the entrance and a balcony on the upper level where the front is angled outward.
“It’s going to be used to service people who work at Catholic Health just across the street. There’s going to be 800 people working there in six months and there’s no place to eat, so we’re filing a void in the market,” Termini said.
Termini has developed a reputation for historic preservation and adaptive re-use projects in Buffalo, including reviving the Lafayette Hotel and AM&A’s warehouse building downtown.
The use of shipping containers for architectural construction is new to Western New York but not to other parts of the country. Such construction already is being used in Detroit, California, London, Amsterdam, Mexico and other parts of the world.
“It hasn’t been done here in Buffalo. This will be the first one,” Termini said. “It’s being done all over the country.”
In Syracuse, for example, a New York City-based company called SG Blocks will use 115 modified shipping containers to build a mid-rise mixed-use facility, with 36 upscale one-bedroom apartments on the upper floors and commercial space on the first floor, along with covered parking. The company has expressed interest in expanding to the Rochester and Buffalo markets as well.
“There’s a container market in Buffalo, both residentially ... and also retail,” said SG Blocks Chairman and CEO Paul Galvin.
“There’s a lot of in-fill lots in Buffalo that could be green housing, to attract graduate students and retain graduate students from the universities.”
What makes the shipping containers attractive is a combination of how they are built and how plentiful they are throughout the country, making them very cheap to buy and retrofit.
The containers are typically used to transport and store a variety of goods by truck, train and especially oceangoing ships. They are the centerpiece of much of international trade. Ports around the country are filled with stacks of empty containers waiting to be loaded for return trips; many are available for other uses.
“So you have to find something to do with them, and we’re beginning to find uses for them,” Termini said. “There’s millions of these containers available.”
Using shipping containers for construction is both inexpensive and fast. A used container can be purchased for as little as $1,000, and even a new container is rarely more than $6,000. Termini cited a cost of about $4,000 each for what he is buying. And his project can be finished within two months of starting.
“It’s not an expensive project. It’s a very small building,” he said.