The Venuti Era, 1960–1974
In 1960, the Venuti Restaurant Corp. purchased the Twin Oaks.
The Venuti family had long been in the restaurant business in Geneva. Joseph had opened Venuti’s Restaurant on Wadsworth Street, commonly known as The Old Man’s. His sons Dominic and Rocco had worked there and at the Tavern, located at 282 Exchange Street. In the late 1950s, Dutch and Rocky, as they were known, were running the Little Brown Jug, but when their lease on that building was not renewed, and local residents resisted their efforts to build a new restaurant on E. North Street, they purchased the Oaks.
The Herald printed a photo of the two brothers, smiling, smoking cigars, and pouring Soilax cleaner into a stock pot. The article wrote, “That’s the way they are: two spicy guys.”
In 1962, Rocky moved back to working at The Tavern, leaving Dutch the sole operator of the Oaks. Rocky later became manager of the Lafayette Inn, and, sadly, passed at the age of 39 in 1969.
An evening at the Twin Oaks in 1973.
Dutch was much loved by the students who frequented the Oaks. The Geneva Times called him an “unofficial president, dean, father—confessor and friend.” He even used to bail students out of jail on occasion. He said, “They’re all pretty good kids, you know. That doesn’t excuse hell-raising, but it helps put it into perspective.” He had a large collection of business cards, post cards, and letters from alums, and could tell stories about each of them.
In 1974, Dutch retired on the advice of his doctor, and sold the Oaks to Frank Michael ’62. Sean Butler, the Hobart alumni director, organized a retirement party for him. Dutch spent his retirement with his thoroughbred race horses and his wife and six children. He passed in 1977 at the age of 49.
In 2018, members of the classes of 1972 donated a plaque honoring Dutch Venuti and the Twin Oaks, which can be found in the flower bed in front of the Colleges’ sign.