SWANSEA – A popular banquet facility, reception hall and restaurant in southeastern Massachusetts that has been an event destination for many Rhode Islanders is undergoing a major renovation and is remaining open under longtime owner Monte Ferris, town officials announced.
Venus de Milo, located in Swansea at 75 Grand Army of the Republic Highway, is expected to reopen under the Ferris family sometime in mid-November, Town Selectman Christopher Carreiro said.
Construction on the facility started earlier in the summer, after the owner previously announced plans to sell the banquet facility following closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The property was previously listed on the real estate market in 2020 on behalf of the owner by MG Commercial Real Estate for $4.8 million. It includes the 60,000-square-foot facility that the family first opened as Venus de Milo in 1959 and 7 acres of land on Route 6.
“Without Venus de Milo active, thousands of people were not visiting Swansea,” Carreriro told WPRI-TV CBS 12. “Now we’re bringing these folks back into this great community.”
The report stated that Monte Ferris Jr., the son of owner Monte Ferris, is the lead behind the renovation project.
In the wake of the pandemic, Venus de Milo continued to serve its own brand of “Venus Food” takeout orders from another facility that Monte Ferris owns on Wilbur Avenue in Swansea called Jillian’s Sports Pub & Grill.
Throughout the history of the business, going back nearly 65 years, the Venus de Milo was known for dishes such as baked stuffed lobster, clam chowder, Delmonico potatoes and a signature minestrone soup.
Prior to the Venus de Milo’s existence, Monte Ferris’ father operated a bowling alley at the Venus de Milo site, with a restaurant known as the Olympic Room, later converting it into a ballroom to meet a demand for wedding celebrations.
In addition to attracting many Rhode Island residents for youth sports banquets, political events and wedding receptions, the Venus de Milo was visited by celebrities, including singer Frank Sinatra, actor Red Buttons, attorney F. Lee Bailey and middleweight boxing champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, a Fall River native, famously got his start there, working in the kitchen of Venus de Milo when he was younger.
Marc Larocque is a PBN contributing writer. Contact him at Larocque@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockObama.