From disaster in Chestnut Hill to triumph in Glenside

Local Life March 29, 2012 0 Comments

by Len Lear

Any rational person would understand if Dino Kelly-Cataldi said he never again wanted to set foot in Chestnut Hill after the shabby way he and his former partner, Daniel Charest, were treated when they tried to open Napoleon Cafe at 10 W. Gravers Lane in 1996. After many years of digging out of the financial pothole created by that disastrous crack-up, however, and a subsequent restaurant wreck at 15th and Locust Streets (see story), Dino, 55, and his partner of the last 14 years, Michael Kelly-Cataldi, 49, are clearly on the road to success.

The Kelly-Cataldi creativity extends to their eye-catching storefront window displays.

Not in the restaurant business, however. In fact, after his catastrophic restaurant experiences in Port Richmond, Chestnut Hill and center city — due to a massive fire, hostile neighbors and street demolition, respectively — I would not be surprised if Dino never goes into a restaurant to eat again, much less to open one himself.

But Dino and Michael are creating quite a splash these days in the waters of interior design. After starting an interior design consulting business, Kelly-Cataldi ReDesign, LLC of Springfield, Montgomery County, three years ago, the Wyndmoor residents opened Kelly-Cataldi HOME on the Friday after Thanksgiving last year and are now open six days a week at 280 N. Keswick Ave. in the Keswick Village section of Glenside.

The new boutique offers an eclectic array of elegant accessories, tasteful hostess gifts and fragrances displayed alongside vintage tableware, home furnishings and art objects. There’s even a table that was used in the M. Night Shyamalan movie, “The Last Airbender,” initially picked up at an auction and now awaiting a new life with someone who enjoys furniture with a story attached.

“We weren’t really even looking for a retail outlet,” explained Michael, a professional singer and actor who also owned the first pet boutique in center city, “And, Toto Too.” It was open from 1994 through 1999 and was  honored with “Best of Philly” recognition. Michael, who still performs occasionally as a singer (his most recent gig was at Sugar House Casino), also has nine years of retail experience working for Robbins’ Jewelers.

“We just happened to be walking along in Glenside and shopping,” he explained, “when we saw a ‘For Rent’ sign at a great location in the heart of Keswick Village. We both thought it was charming and highly visible in a place with lots of foot traffic and car traffic. The bad economy never even entered my mind.

“I figured that ‘if we build it, they will come.’ If I had over-thought it, we would not be open today. And the business has been way beyond what we thought it would be. From Black Friday to New Year’s Day was gangbusters, and it has, of course, slowed some since then, but we still have good traffic.

“I buy stuff on eBay all the time for both personal reasons and for the the store. A lot of these items have come out of our house. Now is actually a really good time to be buying antiques because of the economy. We go to places that have high-end armoires which used to sell for $15,000 and are now selling for $3,000. It is a buyers’ market.”

Some of the more unusual items at Kelly-Cataldi HOME, from vintage to contemporary, are: a fine rosewood and silver tea and coffee service; a massive Japanese wooden Tansu chest, combining the features of a staircase and an armoire; a hand-made Italian steering wheel with inlaid woods from a luxury car; and for tiny drivers, there’s a bubblegum pink miniature Mercedes Benz convertible, suitable for a preschooler with indulgent relatives.

Michael first developed his love for retailing home décor as his “day job” while acting. “It’s a little bit like performing, but with better lighting,” he said. “I say I’m an adoption agency for fascinating things. I just want them to find the right new home.”

Michael’s theatrical history includes a Philadelphia Magazine “Best of Philly” award for his cabaret act. And his theatrical instincts play a significant role in the way he views home décor as well. “So many of our unique items are things I have bought at auction over the years, knowing that they will look wonderful, repurposed in a new setting,” pointing out such items as delicate blown-glass goblets, art deco statuettes, National Biscuit Company cracker tins, a 19th century bent-wood German sled and a massive armoire with a beautiful distressed finish.

(Individually, Dino Kelly-Cataldi is also the controller of ZAC Management, Inc., an umbrella organization with clients in the health care and real estate industries.)

In addition to their other enterprises, Dino and Michael have two show dogs, Kerry Blue Terriers named Truman (Capote) and Mamie (Van Doren). Truman, who has a handler from the storied Westminster Dog Show, has won four of the five shows he has been in, giving him eight points. If he accumulates 15 points, he will earn the tag “Champion.” Dino and Michael also share their Wyndmoor home with two non-show dogs, West Highland Terriers named Trixie and Lucy.

For more information, call 215-277-1295 or visit Kelly-Cataldi.com.

 

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