Joe Benetti was born and raised in Reno, Nevada. His grandparents immigrated to the United States, from Lucca Italy, when they were a young married couple. Louis and Rita had four children. Their oldest son, Joe John Benetti, married and he also had four children. Following Italian tradition, the oldest son was named for the father. Joe John Benetti, Jr. attended school (both Catholic and public) in the Reno area and then University of Nevada at Reno. A chance stop in Coos Bay, during a trip up the Oregon Coast in 1977, was the beginning of his foray into the restaurant business. He fell in love with Oregon’s Bay Area and decided to open a business here.
Joe always loved being in the kitchen and often helped his mom and grandmother cook. He tells stories of the entire Benetti clan gathering at his grandparents’ house to make raviolis. His grandmother would direct all the grandchildren and soon raviolis would be stacked all over the kitchen and beyond!
So he took that love of cooking and opened Benetti’s Italian Restaurant in 1979.
The original restaurant started as a deli. In addition to the many sandwiches, meats, cheeses and other standard deli fare, they also served a daily Italian Special. It soon became obvious that the Italian specials were a big hit and within a year the deli became a dinner house concentrating on Italian dishes. Most of the recipes originated with Joe’s family. After 38 amazing years, Benetti’s Italian Restaurant closed its doors in 2017.
Joe married Tricia Shreck. Tricia’s family had moved to Coos Bay in 1972, from Seattle Washington, when her parents purchased The House of Myrtlewood (now known as The Oregon Connection/The House of Myrtlewood). She worked in the business for a few years, went off to Portland, Sacramento and Garden Grove, before returning to take over the family business in 1989. While she and Joe were dating he called her from the restaurant one night and asked if she could help him out. He said, “You just have to pour water, nothing else.” Of course he fibbed and for a while Tricia worked nights at the restaurant but after The House of Myrtlewood sold a few years later, she was full-time at Benetti’s. She welcomed all customers as though they were family, created a lounge where everyone was welcome, and mentored staff to encourage personal growth. Tricia passed away in January 2015 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Tricia’s legacy will always live on at Benetti’s.
Joe and Tricia have both been active in the community over the years. Tricia served as Coos Bay-North Bend Promotions Committee Executive Director/Chairman, Bay Area Chamber President, numerous advisory committees and director on the Oregon Pacific Bank Board. Joe is an airport commissioner and carrying on Tricia’s legacy as director of Oregon Pacific Bank Board. Before running for the board he served on the City council for 12 years and Mayor for 6 years. After 10 years, Joe is again serving as Mayor of the City of Coos Bay.