Co-owner Cathy Pasquantino calls diner experience ‘a love’
√ Youngstown Diner readies for its future
By Terry Duffy
You likely know it as the go-to place in Youngstown for some tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. But did you know the Youngstown Village Diner is turning 20 this year?
Cathy Pasquantino, co-owner of this long-time village favorite, alongside husband John, proudly calls this business experience a lifetime love.
“It’s been a fast, great 20 years! We’ve got the most amazing loyal customers and staff. We all work as a family, a team, a love,” she said. “It’s kind of cool to see babies that were born and now they’re in college, ya know. Over 20 years!”
Cathy and John took over the former D.J.’s Restaurant in the early 2000s and renamed it the Youngstown Village Diner. Familiar faces among the Niagara County hospitality business community for decades, the two previously operated various motels and restaurants in the Niagara Falls and Lewiston areas before taking on their new business venture.
And it was there the Pasquantino’s fell in love with quaint Youngstown, and the village community with them.
The Village Diner quickly became known for its delicious eats, as well as the favorite hangout in the community where residents would gather, chat and enjoy the comfortable atmosphere. So much so, that the eatery over the years would become “the place” for locals to visit and enjoy for not one, but oftentimes two dining experiences in one day. The Village Diner has also hosted such notable faces over the years as former New York Gov. George Pataki and NHL legend Bobby Hull.
Among the Village Diner’s celebrity visitors over the years was NHL legend Bobby Hull.
Throughout this business venture, Cathy and John immersed themselves within the community. The two have been a part of countless benefits and campaigns over the years to assist the River Region in times of need. A longtime active member of the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, Cathy served as its past president and the Village Diner was recognized as YBPA’s Business of the Year in 2007.
Just this year, the Village Diner, which weathered its own challenges of working through a COVID-19 pandemic to serve the needs of customers, saw itself as a recipient of an appreciative Youngstown community. A virtual “Rock for the Diner” fundraiser by Del Largo School of Music in Youngstown was held in early January. It was followed by a GoFundMe campaign by resident Grant Johnson. Both campaigns were intended to assist the Village Diner get through the storm.
“This is a great family-run establishment that has served the Youngstown community for decades. They are great people and deserve the support,” a Del Largo online post read.
“If there’s a local fundraiser in the community, they’re always the ones that are first to help out,” wrote Grant Johnston, who organized the GoFundMe effort. “To have a successful business that everybody enjoys in Youngstown, which is an incredibly small community, is very important.”
Cathy and John truly appreciate that community support and intend to continue well into the future.
“I’ve got some good years left in me; and I’m just going to keep it like it is for now, cause it’s working!” she said. “We’ve got over the COVID year, we remodeled our kitchen, we took out a loan and made another good investment in our business to stay here.”
Know for her spontaneity, Kathy branched off into a minor dilemma that struck the business over the course of this writer’s morning visit – no credit card or debit services available for customers. But, despite that “Cash Only” sign, the hungry diners – either alone, with a partner or those with families – just kept dropping in.
“It’s weird; it’s weird,” said a very busy Cathy of the sudden internet snafu as she moved from one order to the next with her staff. “My son just went on Twitter and it’s on their end. They’re having issues – as about an hour ago and that’s when it happened. It’s not us; it’s them!”
“So I told the girls I’ll give you my Venmo number just in case,” she laughed.
Such is life these days as the proprietor of a popular restaurant.
Congrats to Cathy and John on a very successful 20 years – and all the best for 20 more. By the way, that western omelet with home fries, coffee and rye toast was awesome!