Local restaurant owners treat customers like family

Mama Catena and Papa Catena
Mama and Papa Catena

At HGR Industrial Surplus, family is everything. The owners and employees are a family, and our customers are part of that family. So, it’s always great to find other local businesses that feel the same. Some of the salespeople at HGR have told me about Mama Catena’s then I was at a Euclid Chamber of Commerce committee meeting where Mama Catena (yes, there really is a Mama who owns and works every day at Mama Catena’s) was mentioned again. The chamber uses Mama Catena’s for catering, most recently for the Amazing Race event. They said that she hand makes her pasta and rolls the cavatelli just like my great grandmother, real name Rose but always called Gram, used to do. In case you couldn’t tell from my name – part Italian.

Gram taught me how to make ravioli, manicotti, gnocchi, cavatelli, spaghetti, sauce, pizza and fried dough from scratch. She passed away about 30 years ago; so, when I heard about Mama Catena, I knew I had to make a trip. I wasn’t disappointed. I was warmly welcomed. Mama, Papa (married for 62 years) and their daughter Fran took time to chat with me for about 20 minutes about Italy, food and family. I asked Mama why she decided to open a restaurant. She says, “For my kids.” Fran explained that they had a big family and used to cook for everyone in the basement (just like my other, Ukrainian, grandma did when she made perogi). Then, when Fran’s father retired after many years as a masonry contractor, they decided to open a family restaurant with Fran’s sister, Rina. Her two brothers are a policeman and a pilot. Fran says they don’t work at the restaurant but they love to eat there!

In business since 1989, the family hugs and kisses its customers. Fran says, as she chokes up, “We get thank-you notes from diners and are told they feel like a table number everywhere else, not like a person. I get choked up. Our customers are like family.” To further pamper customers, the Catenas offer “blind dining” where they talk to their guests, see what they like, then cook a dish for them based on their preferences that may not be on the menu. For someone who is gluten intolerant or on a low-carb diet, they will use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles. Also on the menu are Papa’s homemade cured olives and pickled eggplant. Prepare yourself for some garlic!

This way of treating customers has allowed the business to thrive. Two years ago, it expanded its dining room into the space next door. The restaurant also placed third on the Fox 8 Hot List Best Italian. Fran states, “We are extremely proud of serving our Euclid community for the last 27 years.”

Buon appetito!