Geneseo Genealogy: Village Tavern preserves local business in the spirit of authenticity

The Village Tavern is your everyday pub that, on and off for nearly 200 years, has served as a bar, creating a rich history as the oldest business location in Geneseo. According to owner Rick Vattimo, the restaurant is one of the oldest running taverns in New York. Jonathon Doty, whom Doty Hall is named after, originally built the tavern in 1821. But the building gained its long-standing namesake as a tavern from Erastus Hill, who started Hill's Tavern in 1833.

At a prime location on a major stagecoach road, Hill's Tavern quickly became a booming business location where travelers would come have meals and stay the night, according to the bar's website.

Hill's Tavern eventually closed in 1861, with business dying down alongside the coming of the railroads and the end of the stagecoach era.

While this closing started the longest period of the location's disuse, business began again in 1927 with the location changing names and owners several times over the century, Vattimo said.

And even to date, Vattimo said some people still call it Hill's Tavern or Walt's Tavern.

When Vattimo purchased the tavern, he was originally looking to open a microbrewery but decided to keep the tradition of the location as a tavern instead.

He said that “It was kind of a rough place. When I saw that it had been fixed up and opened up, I really thought, 'Wow, this could be something.'”

Following the much-needed renovations in late 2009, the Village Tavern opened in 2011 after the location had been unoccupied for almost seven years, revealing “an old-style pub, given this building's history,” Vattimo said.

“We wanted everything from the color to the look of the bar to be old,” he said. “We're really trying to … educate people on the history of the building.”