Geneseo students may have noticed the change in signage over what was formerly known as Bank Street Cafe and Grill. Now known as Village Cafe and Catering, the venue is under new ownership. Owner Rick Vattimo purchased it to help expand the business of his other Geneseo restaurant, The Village Tavern.
“I thought it was a good complement and for me, it’s two businesses in one,” he said. “It’s the cafe––which is already a good business––and it’s the catering. We’re doing more and more catering out of the tavern, and I just don’t have the room to cater up there. So with the facilities, we get two businesses in one.”
Vattimo has already set up a catering deal with the newly renovated Riviera Theater, and is in talks with Geneseo’s Alumni Relations.
“I want to do some things on homecoming weekend and on family weekend,” he said. “It’s already picking up just being on Main Street.”
As soon as Vattimo heard that Bank Street was for sale, he said jumped at the opportunity to establish a Main Street location.
“I’ve seen the kind of traffic this place sees relative to other Main Street businesses; it’s such a perfect spot, so I was immediately interested,” he said. “It took about three months to move through the negotiations, but it finally happened in October.”
He noted that he and his team are working hard to separate The Village Cafe from Bank Street and other dining venues on Main Street. A major component of his approach will be experimentation with different themes, specials and atmospheres.
“The Cafe isn’t supposed to be your typical coffee place, because Main Street has those. I want it to be a college student venue,” Vattimo said. “We’ll have vegetarian options, we’re looking at doing different ethnic cuisines on different days and we want to up our coffee sales. We’re gonna be doing a lot of changing things up, keeping things fresh and making things healthy.”
Vattimo emphasized his confidence in trying all of these new possibilities out. He cited the great turnout that happened––even without advertising––when the restaurant held a “Vegetarian Wednesday.” He noted that he also wants to appeal to “the coffee club” of professors and college staff. To appeal to this crowd, Vattimo said that the Cafe will “be doing a lot more baking and homemade stuff.”
“We want people to mingle with the college kids, but not be intimidated by them,” Vattimo said.
He noted that he is looking forward to winter break so that he and his team can work with suggestions and streamlining his business.
“We have two weeks before all the kids go away, so we’ll have a lot of time to play with changes,” he said. “We’re taking feedback. Every day people come in and offer suggestions about menu items, and we’re listening.”
One major qualm students had was in regards to the odd hours The Village Cafe opened with. Students complained that they didn’t know when the venue was open and that they closed too early.
“We fixed our hours to be open till 7 p.m. every day because we heard we were losing customers with our inconsistent hours,” Vattimo said. “We know that classes end at 4-5 p.m., so we’ll be open for them.”