by Karen Mead-Elford, staff writer

JOHN ORIN OF ROMA’S Back Door stands at his open bar window. (Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)

This weekend will see many “Rockin’ at Roma’s” for the 2016 Curwood Festival with numerous activities happening at the iconic Owosso restaurant. Thursday begins the “Founders Tap Weekend” and Roma’s will offer live entertainment with Ross Mead beginning at 6 p.m. Friday will include a fundraiser for Jerry Lostracco for Mr. Owosso and Saturday has live music from Fun Governor with Troy Napier in the evening.

Roma’s Back Door which is located on Comstock St. in Owosso, has been owned by John Orin since September 1998. Orin started in the restaurant business by washing dishes at fourteen. He primarily grew up in the Beecher area of Flint in a trailer park where he and his siblings were raised by his mother. His father passed away when he was a toddler. John vividly recalls the infamous 1953 tornado that went through Flint. By the time John was seventeen, he knew he wanted to own a restaurant. In 1972, Orin purchased Roma’s in Flint. The name is a coincidence. Roma’s in Flint is one of the oldest, continuously operating restaurants in that area. It wasn’t until a completely unrelated trip to Owosso that John accidentally discovered Roma’s in Owosso. The rest is history and he, along with his wife Janice, have made the Owosso and Corunna area their home since 2000. Janice Orin serves as an accountant for their business.

“It is such a personal thing to be able to feed someone,” Orin replied when asked about his success. He credits his great staff. “People don’t realize how smart a good server needs to be.” He is meticulous about hiring people who reflect a pleasant personality. He stated that he can train a person to do just about any job, but he can’t train that person to have a great personality. He cites a trip he made to another restaurant called Pineapple Pete where he didn’t necessarily think that the food was the best, but the servers were amazing. He has made good service a part of his restaurant philosophy.

“People need to know that I care,” Orin spoke about moving forward with his business. He is a strong community supporter. Roma’s Back Door offers a fundraising module to help area nonprofit organizations.

The Owosso restaurant includes a dining area that seats 85 and a banquet room for up to 50 people. A large bar and patio area allows for entertainment both inside and out.

Lasagna is likely the most popular item offered at Roma’s, but John currently enjoys the grilled salmon which is offered as part of his “Health and Wellness” menu. He is also striving to continue to build a line of craft beer for his patrons. Just a few of the beers include Founders Reds Rye from Grand Rapids, Ommengang Seven Kingdoms from New York, and Bell’s Oatsmobile from Kalamazoo.

“Tastefully blending the old with the new,” is the tagline used at Roma’s Back Door in Owosso. Orin has made a conscious effort to include family favorites while introducing new flavors along with great service.

Dining in Your Downtown was last modified: June 1st, 2016 by Karen Elford