Spokane Journal of Business

Geno's owner sells property, to close longtime restaurant

Investors plan to market building near Gonzaga to restaurateurs, others

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After operating in Spokane for 50 years, Geno's Fabulous Pizza & Italian Dinners restaurant is closing this week. Plans to shutter the longtime establishment follow the sale of its 1414 N. Hamilton property to two investors.

Spokane investors Mark Baier and Gavin Swenson, who also co-own Riverwalk Plaza near Hamilton Street and Trent Avenue, bought the 2,800-square-foot restaurant building and neighboring 6,300-square-foot parking lot in late February for $325,000, Spokane County Assessor's Office records show. Baier says he and Swenson at this point plan to market the property for lease, possibly to another restaurant operator.

"We bought it because of the area; it's a great location," Baier says. "The proximity to GU (Gonzaga University)—anything south of Mission—is a desirable location."

Geno's owner Gina Orlando says she will miss her longtime customers, many with generations of family who were loyal to the restaurant started by her father, nicknamed Geno. She credits her father with bringing pizza to Spokane when he began with a downtown Spokane eatery after World War II. He relocated to the Hamilton location in 1962.

"We had wonderful customers, and we enjoyed sharing their lives," says Orlando. About the reason for the change, she says, "They made an offer I couldn't refuse."

The restaurant has been full every night for dinners during its last few weeks of operation, adds Orlando. Although she doesn't have immediate plans for a new venture, Orlando says she hasn't ruled out opening a new restaurant in the future.

"I leave with my name and my recipes, so I may show up in a few years," she says.

Baier and Swenson also were owners of the now closed Office Tavern, at 2732 N. Division. Although they had contemplated operating a restaurant at the Geno's site themselves, Baier says they now are leaning toward finding a tenant.

Treva Lind
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