This fall, Connor Widenmeyer ’14, Andrew Mason ’14, and Ryan Lohuis ’14 won “Best Documentary” for their film “More Than Just a Restaurant” at the Fifth Annual 2012 Finger Lakes Film Festival. The subject of the documentary was Geneva eatery Joe’s Hots, chosen for its mission to bring together community members with food and events, among them the North Seneca Rail Jam, a benefit for the Finger Lakes Skate Boarding Club/North Seneca Plaza. This year, Joe’s will again host this annual ski and snowboard competition on Saturday, March 2, at 305 Main St. in Geneva.
The documentary premiered at the film festival and was held at The Cracker Factory in Geneva. In it, Widenmeyer, Mason and Lohuis focus on the involvement the restaurant has with the Geneva community.
In the film, Owner Joe Marone says his goal is to improve Geneva for current and future generations. He talks about the identity of the restaurant and its relationship with Geneva. Joe’s Hots was among the businesses that helped build the Geneva Community Lakefront Playground, and they hosted the Rail Jam to support the establishment of the local skate park. Marone sees these as opportunities to enhance community life.
He says he approaches his efforts at community engagement with the mantra of “Stop wanting and start doing.”
Joe’s Hots has gained much local respect, especially among HWS students who frequent the restaurant and take part in its events. According to the film, Joe’s has a reputation for transforming bar food into ambitious meal challenges such as eating the famous “trash plate” (more than 3.5 pounds of food). These challenges draw customers to Joe’s Hots to get their pictures on the wall and be a part of the spirit of the restaurant.
Marone says, “Geneva is home. You clean your bedroom at home, so why not clean up your city?”
The film encourages residents to be conscious of their everyday impacts and to remember that they are capable of bettering Geneva.
“More Than Just A Restaurant” is on YouTube.