The Catania Hospitality Group, started 40 years ago in Hyannis by Vincent Catania, operates six Hearth ’n Kettle restaurants and three hotels with spas, employing about 700 people in the summer. President Bill Catania, Vincent’s son, spoke with reporter Katie Johnston. Here’s what she found out.
1Before moving his family to Cape Cod and opening the first Hearth ’n Kettle in Falmouth in 1973, Vincent Catania, an Italian immigrant, owned a small pizza chain and the Pewter Pot Muffin House, which grew to 35 restaurants around New England in the 1960s.
“Think of it like the Dunkin’ Donuts, except muffins instead of doughnuts. He had 40 different types of muffins. It was a sit-down restaurant; they didn’t have drive-throughs back then.”
2 Catania’s mother, Marie, was a good cook, and her recipes made their way onto the old Hearth ’n Kettle menu, including Chicken Marie, a chicken tenderloin with mushrooms and onions served over rice. Sunday was her night off, and Catania’s father would load the six kids into the car and take the family out to eat.
“Always he’d be looking at things, and questioning things. And you’d just hear that and think it was normal. But actually we were doing restaurant reviews.”
3Catania’s first job was at a restaurant, but not one owned by his father. When he was 12, he rode his bicycle 3 miles each way to wash dishes for $1.10 an hour at a pizza place near his parents’ summer home in New Hampshire. The next year he went to work for his father.
“At 13, I started working doing dishes for him at the Hearth ’ n Kettle. That’s what I was most qualified for unfortunately at that age. He wouldn’t let me be the controller yet.”
4Four generations of Catanias have worked for the company, including Bill’s brother Steven and sister Debra, who serve as vice presidents, and the youngest, a 15-year-old busboy at the Dan’l Webster Inn & Spa in Sandwich. Running a family business is challenging, Catania said, because business has to be balanced with family, and sometimes they conflict.
“It becomes very personal and it’s hard. You know, ‘I’m not going to penalize you because you ate all the meatballs off my plate when I was little.’ You also have to be objective with the business, not promote somebody because they gave you their meatballs.”
5The restaurants, inns, and spas bring in more than $30 million a year, most of it during the summer. The slower months are spent doing maintenance, training, and exploring new business opportunities.
“You take advantage of that time, enjoy the beauty of the Cape in the winter. The beauty and the scenery is all still here, you’ve just got to put a jacket on.”
6Catania Hospitality Group has put spas in each inn and an indoor water park at the Cape Codder Resort & Spa in Hyannis, while giving a playful nod to the region’s history. The John Carver Inn & Spa in Plymouth, located on the site of the original Pilgrim settlement, has an indoor pool with a Mayflower waterslide and Plymouth Rock hot tub. The Dan’l Webster Inn is on the site of an inn where Daniel Webster stayed, but its history predates the great orator.
“It was also the site [before] the Revolutionary War where some of the patriots used to hang out. And there was another tavern right down the street, maybe a couple hundred yards away, and that’s where the redcoats used to hang out. But at that point, the war hadn’t started yet. They were starting to get on each other’s nerves I guess.”
7Catania golfs, skis, mountain bikes, plays basketball, and has a black belt in karate. He also took up something called “aggressive inline skating,” zipping down ramps and jumping onto ledges at skate parks around the state. He wears a helmet, knee pads, and shin and wrist guards, and has managed to avoid major injuries.
“The worst was probably a couple of dislocated ribs. Mostly just banged up shins and bruises.”Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.