Since launching their fresh pasta line last spring, the owners of Cannatella Grocery on Government Street have expanded production by nearly five times to keep up with customer demand.
Cannatella co-owner Pam Cannatella initially began experimenting making fresh pasta noodles to complement the Italian grocery’s most popular item, meatballs and gravy.
While Cannatella initially made the pasta herself once or twice a week, pasta sales and demand began to outpace her small pasta production. The grocery invested in a small commercial pasta-maker and hired a culinary student part time to come in the grocery to make the pasta, allowing the store to increase production twofold.
“Before it was just something I would just do myself once or twice a week, but it got to be where I couldn’t keep up with it,” Cannatella says. “We hired a person to come in two days a week but we’ve since increased to four days a week. He’s still not keeping up with demand either. We could make pasta every day.”
The fresh pasta is one of the only items the grocery produces in Baton Rouge. While the grocery offers a robust selection of prepared foods, everything else is made in Melville, a small community in St. Landry Parish where the Cannatella family has operated a grocery store for four generations. The family opened its Baton Rouge location in 2019.
Since the pandemic began, Cannatella’s prepared and frozen food sales have also increased. This year, the Cannatellas are planning to add more cooler space to their Baton Rouge grocery to stock additional prepared and frozen food items. Cannatella expects the expansion to be complete by summer.
“The prepared foods especially have taken off—that’s the bread and butter of what we do here, especially since the pandemic,” Cannatella says. “People don’t want to go out to eat but they still want a good home-cooked meal.”