Dayton has lost a friend. Franco Germano, the restaurateur who started an iconic Italian eatery in Dayton 41 years ago, passed away this past weekend. The 73 year old had bravely battled cancer over the past couple of years. He never let up, he never quit. He even visited his hometown in Italy recently. Franco was a one-of-a-kind with a personality as big as his work ambition.
Dayton is paying tribute to Franco today, Wednesday March 28th, we will toast Franco and all are invited. The event will be held at 5pm at FRANCO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT, 824 E 5th St, Dayton, OH 45402
The Big Ragu last visited with Franco at a retirement party for his longtime bartender/server Rick Busch. It was quite a Food Adventure. We got to sit and spend a couple of hours talking with Franco, and we were grateful. If you have ever had a conversation with Franco, then you know what we mean when we say it was priceless.
HERE’S THE SKINNY on the LIFE OF FRANCO GERMANO:
— Franco was best known for his “Franco’s Italian Restaurant” which he opened in 1976. It has been an anchor in the Oregon District ever since.
— Franco Germano was born in Italy and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960’s. After a stint in the United States army, he began washing dishes at a local restaurant. But he had dreams of one day opening his own place, with his own family recipes.
—Franco’s hometown was Duronia, Italy. He had a huge aerial photo of his hometown on the wall of his restaurant which he referred to often.
— The native Italian was a very active member in various parts of the Dayton sports community. His passion for playing soccer led him from adult leagues to helping coach at Carroll High School. Franco was also a football fan and was known for his passion for the Cincinnati Bengals and legendary tailgate parties. He supported his favorite local sports teams like the Dayton Dragons and UD Flyers Basketball as well.
—His restaurant is known for his “World Famous Spaghetti Dish,” which is an olive oil based mushroom sauce tossed in pasta. Manicotti, Lasagna, and Calamari are other favorites on the menu.
SIDE NOTE FROM THE BIG RAGU:
Being a fellow Italian it was always fun seeing Franco. I met him first in 2000, but had only started talking to him in the past few years. He treated me like he knew me his whole existence. We would talk about our family roots in Italy. Franco would ask me questions about my heritage and I would ask him questions about Italy. If we weren’t talking food or family, we always talked Bengals, Flyers Mens Basketball and local golf courses. We also chatted about other local Italians we knew and the circles where most Italians hung out. Franco was always very happy to hear how much we enjoyed his food. I loved watching him cook on Living Dayton, and we talked about cooking recipes frequently. He usually had a joke or a phrase during the conversation that was a memorable piece of advice. It was fascinating to hear his life stories and I tried to learn from his experiences. Our humble blog pays homage to a Dayton legend. Thank you Franco, for over 4 decades of dedication. We will miss you.
Enjoy our gallery below of great memories of Franco’s.