Opening a business in the middle of the pandemic is difficult, but that did not stop Catherine Paulino and Carl Mangali from starting up Chanoey’s Pasta last summer.
“It was not easy to do, but we’re so happy to be here,” says Catherine.
Before becoming young entrepreneurs, the couple started out in different paths. Catherine was a student at Nova Scotia Community College, studying marketing who also worked part time in chain restaurants. A trained chef of Italian cuisine, Carl started out working at different Italian restaurants in the city. Their busy schedules meant they spent a lot of time apart. They longed for the opportunity to work together and be their own bosses by operating their own food business.
“We had this loose business plan that we slowly put together over the years,” Catherine says. “I was working at the previous business here at 41 Portland Street, so I already knew how wonderful the community was. As soon as I heard it was going to be available, we took the chance!”
It was early 2020 when things started to fall into place for the restaurant, but they faced many roadblocks. “Due to the pandemic, our opening was delayed,” Carl explained. “The equipment we ordered were delayed, our dealings with banks did not go smoothly, and we faced challenges in putting together the decor due to the restrictions.” Even with the registration of their business name, they were rejected many times before they settled on a combination of the names of their favorite sitcom characters — Friends’ Chandler and Joey.
They were finally able to open the doors to the public last summer with patience, perseverance, and lots of help from their family members. “The people of downtown Dartmouth and the surrounding communities welcomed us so warmly,” Catherine says. Since opening day, Chanoey’s has been a two-person operation: Catherine as cashier general manager and Carl as the head chef.
The concept behind Chanoey’s was fueled by the couple’s desire to make good food accessible. “We wanted people to have pasta for lunch or dinner at an affordable price,” says Carl. The restaurant offers pasta dishes for as low as $13, as well as sandwiches and salads. Carl and Catherine made it a point to serve the food in takeout boxes due to the pandemic. “The takeout concept made our business pandemic-proof and allowed us to stay open even during lockdown,” Catherine said.
The pasta flavors, both in their regular menu and daily specials, range from the crowd-favorite chicken alfredo to Filipino adobo. The couple decided to adopt Asian flavours in their pasta as a way to highlight and introduce their culture to the community. Their unique offerings aren’t the only things people come back for, as online reviews of Chanoey’s highlight the hospitality just as much as the food.
“We want customers to feel welcome when they enter, even if they just order a cookie or water because that’s really the Filipino way,” Catherine says.
Chanoey’s customer demand continues to grow, pushing the couple to hire a helping hand. And as they look to the future, they hope to keep the business a family affair and try to expand with a few more branches around the HRM.
Looking back after a year of difficult times, Catherine reveals how the couple got through it. “We get asked how we are always smiling even though we work long hours. We keep going because this business is more than just our passion — this is our life.”
Visit their location at 41 Portland Street or Chanoey's website to view their menu or order online www.chanoeyspasta.com/.