The prominent peach-colored Victorian that houses Villa Venezia Ristorante Italiano in downtown Grass Valley will soon be taking its final bow, as the restaurant is set to close with the retirement of its owner.
“It’s sad, but I am extremely excited about retiring and spending more time with my wife,” said owner Dennis Roberts, who relished the good times he had at the restaurant. “Out of the many professions I’ve had, this has been the most fun. It’s not like going and sitting at a desk. Every day you get something different.”
The restaurant emphasized serving the community, Roberts said, his favorite part of the job.
“The greatest thing about this place is the caliber and quality of the guests,” Roberts said. “They all have just been a star in the sky. Each one is their own point of light.”
Roberts purchased the location after he dined at the restaurant, loved the food and made sure the chefs would remain with the restaurant if he purchased the place. The property is listed for sale through multiple venues, Roberts said. The building has existed since 1892, Roberts said, serving first as a doctor’s office, boarding house and different stores until it became a restaurant.
“It’s had a long, glorious life like any Victorian,” Roberts said. “It’s a tough time for restaurants affected by the ebb and flow of the economy. There’s been some interest, but so far, nothing has materialized.”
The time-consuming job of restaurant management will transition into a focus on love and travel, Roberts said.
“We’re planning on going to Florida for two months, then meander across the country and see different sites, come back, and I’m going to teach my wife how to fly-fish,” Roberts said.
For a last hurrah and a Valentine’s Day celebration, Villa Venezia will host a wine tasting and meal pairing with nine different selections, Roberts said, some of which include soup, salad, lamb chop, salmon crepe, Rotolino and Cippollata.
“We are closing the restaurant for it,” Roberts said. “We still have more seats available, and people can make a reservation through Indian Springs (Vineyard).”
For those who frequent the restaurant, its closure is a sad surprise.
“Dennis has run this restaurant with dignity, integrity and class,” said Tom O’Toole, a Grass Valley resident who said he dined at Villa Venezia every Friday night. “It’s a landmark in Grass Valley that will never be back. For that, it’s a shame, and it’s too bad.”
The restaurant also served as a way to offer experience to beginning workers, like Roberts’ two teenaged grandchildren.
“They’ll serve bread and water and clear the tables,” Roberts said. “They’ve learned how to work, which is a valuable lesson. The first couple times they were so timid, and now they go about it like it’s nothing.”
The restaurant workers will also have to learn to let go of the beloved spot, as will server Kyla Nielsen, who worked at Villa Venezia for six years.
“I feel sad, but I feel Dennis is ready to retire,” Nielsen said. “It’s always sad to see a place you love close.”
The planned final day of operation for Villa Venezia will be Feb. 24, Roberts said. “I’m hoping people come in between now and the end of this.
“I hope people can have one more fantastic experience to have memories for times to come,” Roberts said. “I’m going to miss it, and it’s sad, but I’m really excited about doing other things, and it’s been a good life.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4230.
“Dennis has run this restaurant with dignity, integrity, and class ... It’s a landmark in Grass Valley that will never be back. For that, it’s a shame and it’s too bad.”
Tom O’Toole on Villa Venezia and restaurant owner Dennis Roberts