Oregon District restaurant ‘praying for best’ during coronavirus crisis

Franco’s Ristorante Italiano general manager praises Dayton for its support

Nick Germano paid tribute to his late father, who opened Franco's Ristorante Italiano in 1976, on Tuesday on Facebook.

“It’s been two years since Franco passed away,” Nick wrote. “We all certainly miss him but will never forget him. In his honor, call in a carry-out for Franco’s favorite entree: the ‘World Famoso’ Franco’s Spaghetti. I know he would be saying, ‘Bella Bella!’”

Nick shared the message on the the restaurant's Facebook page, and that same page has allowed him to get the word out to customers that business continues — albeit in a much different way — during the coronavirus crisis. The same goes for establishments around the area, Ohio and the nation.

Germano, the general manager of the restaurant in the Oregon District, has run Franco’s for 10 years. He normally has a staff of 26 people. Now he has five people helping him run the place.

As for the rest of the staff, Germano said, “We gave them support and led them into right direction for everyone to collect unemployment. We’re just praying for the best that this passes as soon as possible, but you’ve got to wade it out.”

» CORONAVIRUS: Complete Coverage

Franco's small staff tries to keep as busy as possible. Diners haven't been able to eat at Franco's since Gov. Mike DeWine's March 15 order limiting restaurants to carry-out and deliver.

“This weekend was actually a pretty decent weekend with carry-out,” Germano said. “A lot of local support. We’re pushing forward. We’re putting every effort into this. I really like the support the community has given back to us. The Dayton community is one that definitely will always stick together.”

Franco’s received a generous donation from someone Germano knows this week, and instead of using the money for the restaurant, he decided to give back by awarding $25 gift cards to nurses, doctors, health care workers, and/or first responders. He planned to give away the cards every day this week.

Winners must be able to pick up the cards curbside at the restaurant’s location at 824 E. Fifth Street. That’s also how customers are picking up many orders. Franco’s is also delivering meals within a 5-10 mile radius, though Germano may soon stop asking his employees to deliver food.

“I would personally just rather do it myself instead of putting my employees at risk,” he said, “which I am already by being open, but they want to work. I have a thermometer, so we check everyone to make sure no one’s sick.”

» RELATED: Tom Archdeacon on Franco Germano in 2018

Most Oregon District restaurants remain open, Germano said. He’s taking a wait-and-see approach.

“We may possibly close, too,” he said. “From my understanding, they say it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I don’t want to put anyone at risk, and I kind of want to follow the guidelines and stay home. If we close, then (his employees) don’t have to leave their homes either.”

If the stay-at-home order remains in effect into late April, May or beyond, Franco’s is in a better position than some businesses.

“We’re kind of fortunate because we own our property,” Germano said. “Some of these other people lease their businesses. Not to mention, we’ve been established for 43 years.”

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