This second-generation hoagie king may never retire from his 93-year-old family business

Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
Contributing Writer

Paul Catalano is a second-generation hoagie man. Since taking over his family’s business — an Italian food specialty shop and deli — in 1963, after his father’s death, Catalano has secured Catalano’s place as not just a staple, but an icon, in the community in the town of Scranton, Penn.

The 93-year old family business is still going strong today, thanks to Catalano’s dedication, hard work, and care for his community. 

Hoagies are made fresh in house each day, and the meat is cut for the sandwiches fresh daily. Catalano explains that though he likes to only offer the hoagies hot or mild, customers can request a custom sandwich.

Which isn’t to say that Catalano is always happy about that. His daughter, Penni Gaughan, who also works for the family business, explains, “When they want to change his hoagie and get a custom sandwich, he’s like, ‘Why are you ruining my beautiful sandwich?’”

And it’s no wonder Catalano takes so much pride in the work he does. As he explains it, when his father passed away in 1963, he was in his early 30s and suddenly faced with the question of whether he wanted to “go out and do what I really wanted to do, or come back and carry on the family name and tradition.”

It’s clear that the people of Scranton are glad he chose the latter, a decision Catalano says was fueled by his not wanting his parents’ years of hard work — and building a business from nothing — to go to waste. 

Whether custom or classic, the hoagies keep flying off the shelf. Although Catalano won’t disclose how many hoagies are sold each day — or each year, or have been sold in the lifetime of the business — he notes that his family business exceeded McDonald’s bragging rights of “a million sold” “many, many years ago.”

And Catalano himself is still personally holding down the fort. From the shop’s opening at 9 a.m. each day, Catalano can often be found at a little table in the back, entertaining and connecting with his longtime patrons. After all, Catalano says, his favorite thing about his work is “meeting our customers and meeting them on a daily basis.”

Though Catalano says he has “no immediate plans to retire, but I’ll consider it,” his family — who double as his co-workers — insist otherwise.

“My father will say he wants to retire in the future, but I do not see that happening,” his daughter says. 

“He’ll never retire,” Catalano’s nephew, also named Paul Catalano and also a Catalano’s employee, says.

“When I’m leaving, I feel tired,” the older Paul Catalano admits. “I have a bad knee, bone on bone, and I drag a little bit. But I feel gratified that we were able to fulfill the day, and that we could make some people happy with the purchases they made and make sure everything is ready for tomorrow.Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle 

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