Chefs at Sinatra’s Restaurant in about a year could be dishing up their lasagna, ravioli and meatballs in a new, bigger building on Kenmore Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda, directly across from the current location on the Buffalo side.
Developer Nick Sinatra on Monday night unveiled his plans for a mixed-use building anchored by the restaurant opened by his father, John, in 1981, and now owned by his brother and chef, Michael.
“I want to give my family the opportunity to build a restaurant from scratch,” he said during a public information session in the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Municipal Building. “That building across the street in Buffalo has been added onto many different times. It’s very inefficient. My brother is looking forward to having a kitchen that is actually designed properly.”
Plans call for a U-shaped building with a first-floor restaurant and about 20 apartments on the second and third floors.
The restaurant would include a 2,000-square-foot dining room, a 1,580 square-foot private dining room, a bar and a dining patio. The market-rate apartments would be a mix of one and two bedrooms and rent for between $900 and $1,100 per month, Sinatra said.
“We’re pretty excited about putting some new apartments into the Kenmore-Tonawanda area, because there really aren’t any right now,” he said. “So I think they’ll be highly sought after.”
Sinatra is hoping to break ground in May and expects construction to take 10 months.
[Read about Nick Sinatra's earlier plans for a new restaurant space in December 2015]
The proposal includes 37 parking spaces for tenants and diners in the rear of the building, as well as 31 spaces across the street at the site of the current Sinatra’s, 938 Kenmore Ave., which would be demolished.
“It’s time for us to do something new, but still keep the old charm and character of the place,” Sinatra said after the session. “It’s time. That building has seen its day.”
The total of 68 parking spaces falls eight short of zoning requirements, said Douglas H. Hutter, an architect with Zaxis Architectural. Sinatra will be seeking four variances – all parking-related – from the town’s Zoning Board on Wednesday.
Monday’s information session was organized by Councilman John A. Bargnesi Jr. to give nearby residents an opportunity to learn more about the project prior to Wednesday’s Zoning Board meeting.
Sinatra, president of Sinatra & Company Real Estate, purchased the half-acre parcel at 945 Kenmore between South Irving Terrace and Fairmount Street in 2011 for $80,200.
Because of petroleum contamination, the land is designated as a brownfield site and will require cleanup to the state’s residential remediation standards.
The site was a gas station from at least 1950 to 1986. It was also an automotive repair facility from at least 1958 to 2010, including automotive body repair work from at least 1994 to 2010, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“It’s like a double whammy,” Sinatra said. “It’s a pretty bad site. But we’re going to go ahead and spend the money.”
Currently, the site is covered with asphalt pavement and the remnants of a concrete slab.
While some residents expressed concerns about parking, Mari McNeil, a South Irving Terrace resident, said she would welcome an attractive-looking business in place of what’s currently an eyesore.
“I’m actually pretty encouraged, if you can follow through with nice aesthetics and design of the building and work out the problems with the variance,” she said. “I would predict – no one here is paying me – but I would predict that our property values will go up with something nice on the corner.”