Cascone’s has been owned and operated since 1954 by four generations. So it’s not surprising that Victor Cascone grew up in the family business. The family's origins trace back to Ragusa, a city near the southern coast of Sicily. As chef at the popular Northland Kansas City restaurant, Victor upholds the culinary standards and Sicilian traditions of his family.
Victor gained his experience firsthand in the kitchen rather than learning at a culinary school. “I started cooking at Cascone’s when I was 15 on Wednesday and Saturday nights,” he says. “I was running the kitchen by 19. I learned to cook from my father and uncle. I wanted to emulate them.”
The restaurant uses family recipes that continue to appeal to customers meal after meal, whether it is spaghetti and meatballs, fettucini Alfredo, lasagna, or linguine con vongole blanco. “The recipes are traditional. The food is fresh and clean,” says Victor, implying that he doesn’t use inferior ingredients or mess around with nouveau techniques and styles. Why bother? The classics hold up. “We use the best, freshest ingredients available. I try not to add a lot to the dish and just let the flavors shine.”
Two of Victor’s favorite dishes to eat are spaghetti and meatballs and veal Parmigiana. He says, “I tend to gravitate to the same dishes.”
Over the years, Victor has learned important lessons about the family business. His father took over the restaurant at age 18 when his grandfather passed away. Victor says, “He had to know who to put where, how to get things done. You grow up with it from such a young age.”
"My Dad told me, ‘Every day is your first day. For customers, it can be their first day in the restaurant. You have to maintain freshness not only for the food, but also for the employees that serve customers.”
He understands that first impressions make a difference. The entire staff strives to create a positive experience for all guests, whether first-time visitors or long-time regulars. A key factor in delivering that experience is Cascone’s staff.
“There’s not a lot of turnover here,” says Victor. “You see it in the kitchen. My cooks have been here forever. One of my cooks has been with me when I was 19 & hired him.”
The relationship works both ways as regular customers get to know the staff and ins and outs of the restaurant. Victor and the entire staff pay attention to their customers, new faces and familiar ones. “Customers that have been coming here for a long time, you learn about their likes and dislikes. But they also will tell you when something is not right.”
After being in the business for so long, what keeps Victor motivated to cook & help manage the business with his family? “Customer feedback, especially when it is positive. It’s addictive,” he says. “You learn from your customers & it is instant gratification.”
Equally important, Victor is eager to maintain standards and keep diners and friends coming back for another meal. “We offer good food at economical prices in a good family atmosphere."
He wants to represent the family business well in all aspects. “I want to live up to the family name. I'm not going to be the one that drops the ball,” says Victor.
At the end of the day, Cascone’s will always be a family business. Those family ties and traditions are a source of strength that distinguishes the restaurant for both employees & customers.