You hear time and time again on Buffalo Rising and elsewhere that "preservation means jobs" and a perfect example of that is at the recently completed restoration of the Lafayette Hotel. The grand dame on Lafayette Square was renovated by Rocco Termini and is now home to dozens of employees in its retail spaces, restaurants, banquet facilities and boutique hotel.
Restoration of the circa-1904 building involved hundreds of workers from the architects and designers and Carmina Wood Morris to the plasterers from Buffalo Plastering and Architectural Casting. Artisans, plumbers, roofers, carpenters, electricians and others worked nearly a year to bring a mix of uses to the landmark property.
"We did all the flooring in the Mike A's Kitchen, the laundry areas, the tuxedo shop, the historical staircase, the elevators, the athletic room in the basement, and all of the fireplaces, bathroom tiles and backsplashes in the hotel rooms," says Ashley O'Brien Kopf of O'Brien's Flooring.
O'Brien's is a multi-generational, family-owned business established in 1936 by Joseph O'Brien who immigrated to the United States from Ireland.
"Joseph taught my grandfather Wayne O'Brien Sr. the trade of floor covering. My grandfather then taught my father Wayne O'Brien Jr, and now my brother Casey O'Brien is involved as well, and my son Lucas who is 6 months works in the office," says Ashley. "It is a long line of Irish floor setters."
O'Brien's has a staff of 15 that often doubles or more depending on the number and size of projects the firm is working on.
The company did a variety of different flooring in the Lafayette including broadloom carpet, carpet tile, vinyl composition tile, luxury vinyl tile, ceramic tile, quarry tile, and marble.
Our company started putting flooring in the hotel the beginning of March and yes, it was a crunch at the end," says Ashley. "We were in the hotel and apartments seven days a week the entire month of April and May. Although the timing and schedule was difficult, the greater challenge was keeping the level of quality and craftsmanship that our company demands from all of its employees and others have come to expect from us. We rose to the challenge."
O'Brien's crew finished their work in time for the June 1 grand opening.
"Some of the challenges that we faced were in regards to finding materials that went well with the overall look of the hotel," says Ashley. "The architects and interior designers did such a wonderful job with what they wanted to have the hotel look like but getting the exact material was often a challenge. Also with so many different things going on within the hotel to get it complete on time there was always a lot going on making it difficult to keep everything straight. It was a project that we were so happy to be a part of and as we stated hope with work with Rocco and other contractors that want to revamp the city back to its original beauty."
Adds Ashley, "We have not done work for Rocco before but do hope to work with him in the future, as he has great plans for the city."