Old freight depot transformed into Italian restaurant
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
If you've been waiting for the doors to Giovanni's to open in the old freight depot at the corner of Hickory and Railroad streets, you won't have to wait much longer.
The new Italian restaurant has scheduled a Nov. 28 opening date. It will climax a year-long search for the right location, four and a half months of building renovations and a month of hiring staff and getting them trained and ready to go.
"We're excited and so glad to be here," said Rod Ross, owner/manager. "It has been a challenge to renovate the building and get it ready for a restaurant, but this is exactly what we envisioned when we started the project. The Hartselle Building Department was a great help and the people of the community have been wonderful."
The restaurant will operate from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. It has seating for 150 patrons on the main floor, including a 50-seat private dining area. Plans are to open an upstairs level as a dining area in the future.
Assisting Ross in the management of the business are his wife, Shelly, advertising and public relations manager, and their daughter, Kristy Overby, operations manager. The staff will consist of about 40 full-time and part-time employees.
The restaurant 's menu offers a wide variety of classic Italian entrees in addition to several entrees from other cultures with an Italian twist.
The latter includes a filet steak, pork chops and seafoods. Signature dishes include a tenderloin milano and a po' river catfish. Callamari Giovanni covered with a pineapple glaze is an award-winning signature appetizer.
"Our prices are in line with those found in other Italian restaurants such as The Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill," said Ross, "plus our very big portions give patrons a lot of value for their money."
Shelly Ross described the atmosphere of the restaurant as being "very romantic, casual yet sophisticated and unique."
"We kept the brick walls and the numbers, stained the floor and dressed everything up, There's not another restaurant like it in North Alabama," she pointed out.
"We're confident we have the best food, service and atmosphere of any restaurant in this area."
The name Giovanni's comes from Giovanni Falcon, a native of Sicily who immigrated to New York City in the early 1900s. He was the father of Ross' mother.
The Ross family also owns The Lagniappe Caf/ in Decatur.