For roughly the last hundred years, the town of Melville has relied on Canatella’s.
“In 1923, my great grandfather and his son, my grandfather, opened this store here in the town of Melville,” says Cannatella’s owner Grant Cannatella.
Coming over straight from Sicily in the 1880s, the store wasn’t originally the business his great grandfather was planning on operating.
“He wanted to farm and he landed here in the Melville area,” says Grant. “An old story told to me was that he was riding around and saw weeds growing taller than houses and said if they can grow here, I can grow a good crop.”
The store passed from generation to generation, and now is in the hands of the fourth generation. For Grant, though, owning the business has been an unexpected journey.
“When I graduated college, when I graduated high school and moved away, I was glad to be rid of it,” says Grant. “But then you get married and have a child and things change, you get to get back to your roots.”
It’s a journey that he doesn’t regret.
“It’s been really good, I got to spend about 14 years working alongside my dad. Had I not come back I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
For Grant, the store is now not only full of any supply you could think of but also memories of growing up inside the store he now helps run.
“My cousins and I use to play this game. We’d put a quarter on a string and hide under the cooler and when a customer would come we’d jerk the quarter from them, so that was fun,” explains Grant. “And it was closed on Sundays, so we’d ride our bicycles in the store.”
Those memories have grown into the things Cannatella’s is most known for to this day
“Our Italian influence foods are definitely from my great grandfather and great grandmother who taught their children on down. Our Italian sausage recipe that was taught to me was my great grandfathers.”
They’re signature dish, the muffuletta, is hailed as one of the best in the state. It’s also a throwback to Grant’s childhood memories.
“Growing up, a muffuletta was a real treat when my parents would go to New Orleans, and I thought I’m going to learn how to make one,” says Grant.
So from homemade bread to his own blend of olive salad, the muffuletta has become one of the staples of the store. A store that remains the last remnant of a once-booming Melville.
“We’re doing everything to stay open for the residents here,” says Grant.
And while this store will serve as a flagship store, there is an expansion into Baton Rouge coming for Cannatella’s.
And so we ended our trip to Cannatella’s the way you’d expect. With a bite to eat. And Grant happily sent us on our way to the Lafayette/ Iberia Parish border.