Venus de Milo proprietor says the clock has run out on take-out enterprise

SWANSEA — “Hope springs everlasting,” poet Alexander Pope wrote, however even battlers like Monte C. Ferris have their restrict.

The only real proprietor of the landmark Venus de Milo banquet facility and Empire Grille restaurant at 75 Grand Military Freeway introduced final yr that he was closing down and was making an attempt to promote his 7.5-acre property and constructing for $4.75 million.

Since that pronouncement, nevertheless, the enterprise, generally referred to easily as The Venus, has continued to remain open for large-size, take-out meals orders Friday by Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In Could, Ferris informed The Herald Information he was delaying plans to reopen the Empire Grille by Memorial Day on the finish of that month due to problem discovering and hiring skilled restaurant staff.

The Venus de Milo in Swansea has solely supplied weekend take-out orders because the pandemic hit in early 2020.

He additionally on the identical time expressed optimism that his banquet enterprise can be again in motion earlier than the shut of 2021.

Any trace of such optimism not exists.

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“I’ve misplaced effectively over one million {dollars},” Ferris stated, as results of the cancellation of private-function occasions and refunds of deposits because the novel coronavirus was declared a nationwide emergency in March of 2020.

“When you possibly can’t discover assist and also you’ve obtained a 60,000-square-foot constructing, take-out doesn’t assist it,” he stated.

Monte Ferris sits in the office of his Venus de Milo banquet facility in Swansea with a photo of his late father Monsour Ferris on the wall.

Monte Ferris sits within the workplace of his Venus de Milo banquet facility in Swansea with a photograph of his late father Monsour Ferris on the wall.

COVID took its toll on restaurant enterprise

After the emergence of COVID-19 in early 2020, the Venus de Milo’s restaurant, like different eateries all through the state, was pressured to discontinue indoor eating for greater than three months.

It was additionally months earlier than restrictions on indoor gatherings had been relaxed and lifted.

And though its restaurant and banquet rooms remained closed, the Venus de Milo by no means totally shut down because of its take-out enterprise. Not like a variety of different eating places, nevertheless, its Empire Grille didn’t reopen.

Clients who yearned for its baked stuff lobster, Delmonico potatoes and signature minestrone soup and clam chowder had been and are nonetheless ready, in the interim, to cease by and choose up meal orders.

However that won’t final for much longer.

Ferris, 70, stated he would ideally wish to promote the constructing and actual property by the tip of the yr. He stated he’s just lately spoken to a minimum of two potential consumers however a deal has not but been brokered.

The property beforehand had been listed on the market by MG Business Actual Property of Windfall. Its senior vice chairman Dan Feiner stated he is aware of that Ferris is intent on discovering a purchaser.

“We’ll proceed to work with him,” Feiner stated of Ferris, throughout a short telephone interview.

Future Venus take-out meals enterprise

Ferris, who grew up in Fall River’s Flint neighborhood and now lives in Windfall, stated after promoting the property he want to discover a location, probably in or close to Windfall, to open Venus Meals, an in-house subsidiary that solely does take-out orders.

Venus de Milo common supervisor Scott Paquette says quickly after the pandemic alarm bell was rung in March of 2020, a choice was made to run the Venus Meals take-out enterprise out of Jillian’s Sports activities Pub & Grill, a Somerset restaurant and bar owned by Ferris.

And regardless that Ferris shortly thereafter determined to convey the take-out enterprise again to the Venus de Milo, Paquette says clients can nonetheless order soup, chowder and lobster bisque whereas having lunch or dinner within the eating room of Jillian’s Sports activities Pub & Grill.

Paquette, now 37, says he was 15 when he started working as a busboy for Monte Ferris and his older brother, Ronald, who died in 2009.

He ultimately labored his approach as much as a managerial place whereas going to school and continues to assist out — along with his full-time place as assistant director of the Bristol Neighborhood Faculty program known as Upward Sure and Instructional Expertise Search.

Owner Monte Ferris, left, and general manager Scott Paquette are seen here in the lobby of the Venus de Milo banquet facility in Swansea.

Proprietor Monte Ferris, left, and common supervisor Scott Paquette are seen right here within the foyer of the Venus de Milo banquet facility in Swansea.

“I grew up on this place,” stated Paquette, who has a grasp’s diploma in enterprise administration.

“I owe so much to Ronnie and Monte,” he added.

He says Carlos Melo, who now manages the Jillian’s restaurant and bar, additionally obtained began within the meals service enterprise working as a busboy on the Venus de Milo.

How the Venus obtained its begin

The origins of the Venus de Milo wedding ceremony venue and restaurant date again to 1959 when Fall River native Monsour Ferris, father of Monte and Ronald, opened a duckpin bowling alley on the identical Route 6 website known as Bowlaway.

Paquette notes, and state data bear out, that the official, included identify of the enterprise remains to be Swansea Bowlaway Inc.

Ferris says when his father opened the bowling alley it included the Olympic Room, which served lunch and dinner and have become in style for its swordfish, scrod and lobster.

However it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Vacation Lanes ten-pin bowling alley, now generally known as AMF Somerset Lanes, opened in Somerset.

“Ten-pin beat us,” Ferris stated. “We misplaced half our leagues to Vacation Lanes.”

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than his father started changing the bowling alley right into a ballroom: “There was a requirement for weddings,” Ferris stated.

This is an aerial view of the Venus de Milo building in Swansea.

That is an aerial view of the Venus de Milo constructing in Swansea.

Monsour Ferris additionally employed Joe DaRosa as head chef, which was a place he held for 40 years.

It was DaRosa, Monte Ferris stated, who created the recipe for the famend Venus de Milo minestrone and numerous different in style menu choices.

“He’s the explanation for our success,” Ferris stated of the late DaRosa.

Ferris and Paquette stated through the heyday of the Venus, beginning within the early Nineteen Seventies, between 100 and 200 principally part-time staff, at numerous occasions of the yr, labored within the constructing.

Paquette stated there was all the time a full-time core contingent of not more than a dozen staff. Because the coronavirus pandemic, nevertheless, he says the full variety of full- and part-time staff has not exceeded a dozen.

Monte Ferris Sr., right, with boxing great "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler at the Venus de Milo. The Venus de Milo serves more people for Thanksgiving than most of us can imagine.

Monte Ferris Sr., proper, with boxing nice “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler on the Venus de Milo. The Venus de Milo serves extra folks for Thanksgiving than most of us can think about.

Celeb guests

Present enterprise celebrities and different well-known personalities who by the a long time appeared at or utilized the Venus de Milo included actor and philanthropist Danny Thomas, who helped discovered the St. Jude Kids’s Analysis Hospital; Frank Sinatra; actor Pink Buttons; legal professional F. Lee Bailey; and former heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes.

Fall River-born movie star chef Emeril Lagasse as a younger man labored for some time within the kitchen.

The partitions in Ferris’ Swansea workplace are filled with pictures of a few of these well-known characters.

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Two rounds of PPP loans

Ferris and Paquette stated the Venus de Milo acquired two Paycheck Safety Program loans totaling greater than $800,000.

The $800 billion federal PPP low-interest mortgage program — which allowed mortgage forgiveness for debtors who met necessities and forgiveness utility deadline — was designed to assist corporations and companies coping with the financial fallout of the pandemic.

Paquette stated the first-round mortgage was forgiven and that they anticipate the second to additionally qualify.

With such a small employees, Ferris stated he ended up spending a portion of the PPP mortgage cash for worker bonuses.

He additionally stated he’s spent $150,000 on roof and different constructing repairs because the pandemic hit. These expenditures, Paquette stated, weren’t coated by the PPP loans.

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Bother discovering employees

Ferris and Paquette stated they couldn’t reopen the restaurant due to an absence of great job candidates.

Paquette stated individuals who supposedly had been on the lookout for work would inquire after which not present up for interviews as a approach of continuous to gather unemployment advantages.

Ferris stated he can’t fathom why youngsters, together with youngsters of former staff, wouldn’t need to work part-time — particularly since he was providing an hourly wage almost twice of what it was a pair years in the past.

“We had been fully shocked we didn’t get them. It was the weirdest factor,” Ferris stated.

Charles Winokoor could also be reached at [email protected] Assist native journalism and subscribe to The Herald Information at this time.

This text initially appeared on The Herald Information: Swansea Venus de Milo banquet facility won’t reopen, up on the market

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