Franco Germano brought his knowledge and passion for food (along with a few recipes) from his hometown of Duronia, Italy to Dayton’s Oregon District in the form of Franco’s Ristorante Italiano, which opened in October 1976 at 824 E. Fifth St.
The restaurant’s signature dish, Franco’s “World Famoso” Spaghetti, is a distinctive take on the otherwise ubiquitous pasta dish, and it came from Germano’s creativity in the kitchen. In this version, spaghetti is dressed with oil and Romano cheese, along with “a lot of garlic,” Germano says, then topped with house-made Italian sausage, mushrooms and egg.
For that dish alone — oh, and also for operating a restaurant for 40 years in Dayton — Franco Germano is our Daytonian of the Week. We caught up to the 71-year-old chef-owner through his son, Nick, to find out more about the man behind his namesake restaurant.
What’s your favorite spot in the Dayton area?
My favorite spot in Dayton is Community Golf Course. I play there two to three times per week.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Soccer. I played for 50 years. I also coached youth, high school and college soccer.
What’s one word you think people would use to describe you?
Why did you decide to stay in and settle in the Dayton area?
I moved to Dayton on vacation, and my parents decided to settle here. The town was easy to get around in.
How did you get involved with owning and running a restaurant?
I have been in food service since 1963. Due to my lack of English, I had to start as a dishwasher. I was drafted in the military and worked in the mess hall. I became the mess sergeant. After the military, I was the Chef and General Manager of Sacksteder’s Cafeteria. That is when I started my career. From there, I opened Franco’s Ristorante at the age of 31.
What was the most challenging part of that?
Being creative with the menu and understanding the customer’s needs.
How did you push through the challenge?
I worked long hours and had a dedication and love for food service and management.
What inspires you about Dayton?
Throughout the years I have met many wonderful people. The community and friendly people inspire me to keep my dedication.
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, what would it be?
I would like to see more activities for the youth of our city.
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
Hopefully, there will be a resurrection of the downtown area. I am hoping to see more retail stores downtown and more residential housing as well.
RELATED: Franco’s ‘World Famoso’ Spaghetti wowing diners for nearly 40 years (June 2013)