Restaurants Exposed: Golden Ponds goes on the auction block

September 19, 2017 07:35 PM

Tuesday, a bit of Rochester restaurant history was auctioned off piece by piece.

Golden Ponds was a popular Greece restaurant and party house for more than three decades. But last year, it was the site of one of the biggest outbreaks of foodborne illness in Monroe County history.

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The health department says 260 people got sick there. The restaurant went out of business, and today pieces of that business went to the highest bidder.

"It surprises me that this place is going out of business,” said Michael Alonci who bought stainless steel kitchen ware at the auction.

He remembers going to Golden Ponds as a kid, so it was a little surreal buying bits of the restaurant. He bought the now-infamous gravy boats. The Monroe County Department of Health believes bacteria-laden gravy sickened 260 people last Thanksgiving. He estimates he bought about 200 gravy boats for $8.

“I’m going to sell some of it at a garage sale,” said Alonci. The kitchenware was so cheap he said he would likely be able to sell it at a profit.

It’s the end of a Greece staple For 33 years Golden Ponds was the neighborhood place for parties, rehearsal dinners, and weddings. On a wall hung a wedding portrait, a reminder of what was. On the other side of that wall an auctioneer sold what was left of Golden Ponds.

Everything was on the auction block, including the recreational vehicle behind the restaurant. Frank Vella bought it for the bargain basement price of $3,500.

"I think that it's a good deal!” said Vella. He said more importantly, he was happy to help out Ralph Rinaudo, the owner of Golden Ponds.

Patricia Jenkins wanted a good deal too, not for herself, but for her church. She bought ice cream servers, stainless steel bowls, candles to use as centerpieces, and the chairs out of the restaurants lobby. Each chair was just $5.

But Bob Cortese watched the auction through a different lens. The owner of Golden Ponds, Ralph Rinaudo, is his cousin. While Bob was glad people were buying the goods, it was hard to watch.

“It's weird to kind of watch all this stuff go for pennies,” said Cortese.

And so it is. Bidders all walked away with a bit of Golden Ponds - closing a difficult chapter in Rochester's restaurant history.

On Friday, Golden Ponds owner Ralph Rinaudo broke his long silence and talked News10NBC. He says he's heartbroken, in deep debt, and moving to Vegas. He has no plans to return to the restaurant business.


Deanna Dewberry

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