The Cascarelli's story started in Borgo Partenope, Italy in 1856 when Robert Cascarelli was born. Vincenza Biafore was born in 1874 in a neighboring village, and married Robert Cascarelli in the 1890’s.
Robert immigrated to the U.S in 1883, coming to Albion in 1897, settling at 109 S. Superior. Robert went back to Italy and married and came back to the U.S a few years later. Frank Cascarelli, the fifth child of eight was born in 1903, and came to Homer in 1935, buying a business and building from local Tavern owner Maurice Taylor. This began the Cascarelli evolution in the Village of Homer Michigan and fortunately is still a work in progress. Two years later, Frank purchased the present building and they have remained at that location since. Although it was operated only as a tavern and lunch room until 1964, in February of 1965, Bob Cascarelli entered the pizza business and anyone who has enjoyed an original Pizza can attest, customers are glad he did!
Bob joined his father in 1957, mostly bartending on weekends, taking time for college and the military, eventually becoming a full-time employee in 1964 working with his father for many years to come. Bob and Frank continued to make one of the best Pizzas in south central Michigan.
In 1964 the restaurant underwent a major remodel, and numerous changes came along in the years to follow (including Bob and Judy Karchers wedding in May of 1967. Judy Cascarelli joined her husband in the kitchen in 1971 and continued working together until the year 2000.
Robert continued to run the business with his wife until joined by his daughter and son, Erin and Ryan, who were always willing to help pitch in at the restaurant. Ryan Cascarelli joined his father on a full-time basis in 1992 and in 1994 assumed the role of managing the business, making him the third generation of Cascarellis to delight patrons. He was later joined by his sister in 1997 and Judy and Bob are still active, but enjoy letting the “kids” run the show today.
Starting just after taking on the responsibility of manager, Ryan underwent several massive construction projects to not only add space to the restaurant, but to add ambience. With his flair for Originality and Perception & sometimes the Dramatics and foresight Ryan continues to lean to the future with his talents.
How about some “Old History”. In the late 30’s, a day at the restaurant consisted of at least 18-19 hours, which was the “norm” during the depression to keep things going. Despite the crazy hours, average income for the day could be anywhere from $1.60 to $2.00! Things got a little better on the weekends, where income could increase to $4.00 to $6.00 per day.
In the 50’s Cascarelli’s was selling mostly DRAUGHT beer, and in this era, Cascarelli’s could sell from 8 to 14 barrels of beer per week, depending on how thirsty their patrons were. In 50’s and 60’s two beers were offered on Draught, Pabst And Pheiffers In stark contract to their lineup of foreign and domestic beers they offer today. Cascarelli’s offers 22 Taps of domestic and foreign beers.
Another interesting tidbit to know about the restaurant, Frank Cascarelli was the first person to employ a lady bartender, which was unheard of in this era. Her name, Mrs Mildred Bloominstock. The thought in this period was no respectable lady would enter such an establishment, let alone want to actually work there. My, how times have changed. Frank had great forethought.
In it’s early days, Cascarelli’s also doubled as a soda fountain, with display cases for or candy, cigars, chewing tobacco. Frank actually featured Borden ice cream, and Gilbert Chocolate, and a business had to have an excellent reputation to have the honor to sell these two items.
While many of Cascarelli’s customers now come from all over southern Michigan and northern parts of Indiana and Ohio, Homer in the 50’s & 60’s had the business capacity of a city with the population of 5,500 people, despite having a population of around 1,500 residents. This certainly brought in the hungry patrons for lunch and dinner and lots of good times on the weekends.Traffic Jams in Homer?
Homer at this time was a Class C school, and the farming community accounting for most of the students in the system. When the farmers came to town on Saturdays, a serious parking problem developed and by 9 am not a parking space could be found anywhere on Main Street. To make the most of all the activity in town, all businesses stayed open until 9 or 10 pm and even the barber shops stayed open until midnight.
If you’ve ever been to Cascarelli’s Pizza (or visited many of the establishments that buy them from us), you’re likely aware of our famous Cascarelli’s Nuts. Almost from the beginning, Robert Cascarelli started the roasting of raw peanuts in 1897 and the Cascarelli tradition or roasting Fresh Peanuts continues through four generations of the Cascarelli family.
We now roast tons of redskin peanuts, cashews and macadamia nuts every year and they can be found in area bars, micro breweries, restaurants and golf courses around the south-central Michigan area.