Frank Martinetti was born Nov. 26, 1909 to Italian immigrants in the coal-mining town of Mark, IL. He met Lucille there and married her in 1933. They moved to Rockford and built Rockford’s first supermarket. They owned Martinetti’s at 312 E. State St. in Rockford when they bought the former Oak Social Club in 1946. (The Oak Social Club had previously been Fritzel’s Fiesta, a dining establishment with bar as early as 1934).
The large frame building housed a restaurant, lounge, and 30-room hotel. The Martinetti’s opened Martinetti’s Fiesta in September 1947, with the motto “good food served right.” At that time, the dining room, bar, and banquet hall were on the first floor, and the dance floor was in the basement. Martinetti’s held a grand opening in 1950, as the bar and restaurant were moved downstairs and the first floor was converted into hotel rooms. The 25 hotel rooms were air-conditioned and the new dining room and cocktail lounge were below the hotel floor. Al Morgan, organist for WGN radio and TV performed. But in 1955, the business was destroyed by fire.
The Martinetti’s moved to Las Vegas but came back in 1956 to open on August 15 a new stone and masonry establishment with 3 dining rooms, lounge, 24-hour coffeeshop, indoor waterfall, goldfish pond, and live lobster tank. A large pipe organ was installed in the lounge in the 1960s. In the 1970s, the motel was increased from 50 to 100 rooms when a second floor was added. Martinetti’s was the first restaurant in the area to offer a salad bar, a Sunday buffet, and an all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry. Steaks were hand cut, by Frank himself.
The restaurant was sold in 1976 and became T.C. Spirits. In the 1980s, it was September’s and then Coleman’s Place. The complex was torn down in 1996 to become a GM car dealership. Frank Martinetti died at age 98 June 24, 2007.