(WBEN) Russell Salvatore, the local celebrity restaurateur and philanthropist known for the lavish sculptures and decorations outside two restaurants he founded wants to take his eternal rest in front of one of them.
Salvatore, 80, has asked the Lancaster Town Board to approve a measure that would allow him to be buried in a mausoleum he would construct outside "Russell's Steaks, Chops and More" at 6675 Transit Road.
The restaurant - and possible burial site- is adjacent to the Trocaire College School of Hospitality he developed, and shares land with Salvatore's Grand Hotel and a memorial sculpture park he erected outside his latest hotel, north of Genesee St.
The park already features one of the largest flags in the state, a memorial to the victims of Flight 3407's crash in Clarence Center and a replica of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers.
At Left, Russell Salvatore, at the unveiling of his Flt. 3407 memorial in 2014, in a picture from his YouTube video of the dedication
Supervisor Dino Fudoli
"When you're put to sleep in a cemetary and you're down in the ground, in three or four days you're forgotten, and I don't want to be forgotten," Salvatore told WBEN. "I just like the idea of being respected back after you're gone for everything I did for the community." Salvatore also said that he's not worried about the restaurant changing hands or closing, and says that even if the restaurant closes, the park that would hold his body is there to stay.
Under state law, individuals are allowed to be interred on their own property, in above ground burials. Fudoli adds that he knows of no state or local law that would prohibit the mausoleum, as long as it meets muster with the town board. They are investigating the possibilities, he says.
A showman and philanthropist, Salvatore is known for the over the top features inside and outside his restaurants.
The steak house where he would be buried is north of the iconic "Salvatore's Italian Gardens," he founded featuring a row of Greco Roman statues that line a property now owned and operated by his son.
In a Channel Two News profile recently he joked of his opulent style by telling of how he started Salvatore's Italian Gardens as a small hotdog stand in the 1960's with only $40,000
"$40,000, now I got one chandelier that's double the cost of that, " he said.
He's also known for his charity work. In recent months he has purchased the remaining Buffalo Bills tickets to ensure a sell out and TV coverage of the game.
Last week he gave approx. $3,000 to the Food Bank of WNY, after a major donor had her house burglarized. And earlier this year he donated $2,000 for patient TVs at Erie County Medical Center and even bought a horse for the Erie County Sheriffs' Mounted Division.
The Lancaster Town Board is expected to vote on the measure in the next few weeks, Fudoli says. "It's still in the preliminary stages, but I don't even know if there is anything that could prevent it," he added..