Restaurant veteran will oversee unique sports-themed entertainment experience
HARBORCENTER President John R. Koelmel announced today that Dominic Verni has been named general manager of its restaurant and sports bar.
"Dom brings tremendous experience and notable success in the food and beverage industry to HARBORCENTER," Koelmel said. "We are very excited to have him leading the team that will make our restaurant and sports bar one of downtown Buffalo's most enjoyable and notable entertainment venues."
The yet-to-be-named establishment will be owned and operated by HARBORCENTER. Patrons of the 13,000-square-foot, two-level restaurant, with seating for 350, will enjoy fare that is highlighted by Western New York culinary favorites while featuring locally produced ingredients. The menu will be complimented by an extensive collection of craft beers and signature cocktails, available at three feature bars. In addition to being a focus for fans and visitors before and after Sabres home games and other events at the adjoining First Niagara Center, patrons will be able to enjoy the experience of a 36-foot television screen, the largest in Western New York, as well as other amenities throughout the year.
"The HARBORCENTER restaurant and sports bar will be the premier destination to celebrate your favorite sport," Verni said. "Whether it be the Super Bowl, World Cup, Wimbledon, the World Series, NBA and NHL playoffs or hundreds of other sporting events throughout the year, the HARBORCENTER restaurant and sports bar will be the place to be. Western New Yorkers and visitors from across the region and beyond will be able to enjoy a relaxed and fun setting, with fine food and drink."
"To create a high-level experience consistent with all that we will provide at HARBORCENTER, we needed not only an experienced restaurant leader, but one who shares our passion for Buffalo and WNY," Koelmel said. "Dom brings that focus and energy given his local roots and years of experience in delivering not only a consistent dining experience, but in also leading and supporting other events and activities."
Prior to joining HARBORCENTER, Verni spent 17 years with the Hard Rock International Restaurant, Hotel and Casino chain, most recently serving as general manager of its café restaurant, retail and live music venue in Niagara Falls, USA. He also brings international experience from his franchise restaurant openings in both Montreal, Quebec, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. He led Hard Rock's global recruitment efforts through its European work and travel program for the northeastern U.S. Verni headed company café operations in the Cleveland and Boston markets before returning to Western New York in 2004.
"I'm proud to have an opportunity in my hometown to play a lead role in such an exciting venture and am confident my background and experience will contribute to the success of not only our venue, but to Canalside and downtown Buffalo as well," Verni said. "HARBORCENTER and the district will be the place to be beginning in the fall of '14."
Verni's work within the community includes serving on the board of directors and as president of the Downtown Niagara Falls Business Association from 2008-13. Working with city officials, Verni was a catalyst in creating special events in downtown Niagara Falls, which drew thousands of visitors to the area. Verni established the "Hard Rock at the Falls" summer concert series and "Hard Rock New Year's Eve Guitar Drop." The guitar drop earned the Buffalo Niagara Event Professionals 2010 outstanding event award. Verni's achievements are documented with the Hard Rock International Marketing Café of the Year Award (2010) and Hard Rock International Sales & Marketing Merit Awards (2011 and 2012).
Verni, a Buffalo native, attended City Honors High School and the University at Buffalo. He currently resides in the City of Buffalo with his wife and their two children.