Imagine a low-lit restaurant and lounge, with walls and booths covered in quirky, colorful decorations, and the smell of homemade Italian classics wafting through the air as a mix of young students and local families laugh and socialize. Geno’s restaurant has created a hybrid restaurant experience by mashing up traditional Italian recipes with live music, all resulting in a great new place to check out. The new Geno’s held its grand opening on Oct. 14 to introduce the spiced-up decor, new menu and nightlife scene.
The original Geno’s restaurant closed down on March 26 of this year because the owner, Gina Orlando, received a real estate deal she could not pass up, according to The Spokesman Review. Though she closed the popular Italian place, Orlando said she hoped there could be a new Geno’s restaurant in the future. It was only a few months and William Webster, the owner of Zola in downtown Spokane, opened his take on Geno’s.
Lindsay Jones, a Whitworth senior, got a job at Geno’s as a waitress in a unique way. She met the owner, William Webster, at O’Doherty’s earlier in the year, and asked him if he was interested in participating in a group project for her marketing class. After agreeing, Jones worked with Webster to prepare the restaurant for its grand opening. Once the project was completed and Geno’s opened, he asked Jones if she would like to work as a waitress.
Jones said that Webster revamped the entire restaurant by making drastic changes to most aspects of Geno’s.
Designer Dan Spalding created the interior of the restaurant, using decorations such as old trailers and circus tents to give the restaurant a 1950s circus theme.
Geno’s is located near Gonzaga University on 1414 N. Hamilton St., and consequently has become a popular place for students to hang out. So far the majority has been mainly Gonzaga students, a result of its convenient location to their campus. Though the Whitworth student population has not had the same reaction, Jones said the staff hopes word of mouth will bring other college students to the new venue.
Geno’s has a late-night happy hour, which caters toward a lively crowd on weeknights. It takes place Mondays through Thursdays, from 10 p.m. to closing. Unlike many other restaurants and lounges in the area, it is open to all ages until 11 p.m., which allows underage locals and students to enjoy the night life as well.
Seven days per week the lounge and bar is crowded with customers who come listen to live bands, including jazz and acoustic styles, and other local musicians. Some bands even give customers a chance to request songs, which gives them a more interactive restaurant experience.
“The band was really good because they interacted with the customers well,” senior Phillip Inouye said about the music and atmosphere on the opening night.
The full menu and bar menu at Geno’s gives customers an affordable, traditional Italian food experience. It offers old favorites such as lasagnas and pizzas, and new spins on Italian favorites, such as their eggplant rollatinis. Also, it imports all their pizza dough from New York Lamonica’s Pizza Dough Co, Inc.
It offers fresh ingredients presented in traditional and innovative Italian styles of cooking. A crowd favorite is their margherita pizza, while Jones said her favorite dish on the menu is the wild mushroom pizza.
The daily happy hour is from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. and all day Sunday, during which all pizzas and appetizers are buy one, get the second half off. Also, bottled beers are only $2 and well drinks are $3.
Jones said Geno’s offers the community a friendly and unique experience.
“I love everyone I work with,” Jones said. “It’s a cool environment to work in.”
Though many locals were sad to see the old Geno’s leave the restaurant scene, the new Geno’s is offering something familiar for locals and something exciting and eclectic for newcomers.
By Rachel O’Kelley
Photo By Kari Johnson