In the mid 1990's, Catablu owners Mike and Maureen Catalogna were busy making their mark on the South Florida restaurant scene, a leading culinary region that boasts top restaurant talent from around the world. Managing Fort Lauderdale's ‘best new restaurant in 1997' among several others and training under Florida's leading restaurateurs and award winning chefs, the Catalogna's soon became experts in the areas of mid-to-upscale family dining.
n 1997, with a collective 22 years of restaurant and catering experience and having achieved regional notoriety for their success in the business, the Catalogna's embarked on a search for a location, in which to start their own restaurant. They saw great potential and growth opportunity in a city that was hungry for an electric, casual dining experience. Their search ended in Indiana's second largest city, Fort Wayne.
Ready to raise the bar in Fort Wayne's eatery environment, the Catalogna's were seeking a location in Fort Wayne that would allow them to tap into the values and touch the hearts of Fort Wayne residents. The Broadway corridor, a part of the community that once boasted upscale restaurants, antique stores and boutiques, was about to begin revitalization efforts. The Catalogna's saw an opportunity to ensconce themselves in the local community and help restore forgotten part of the city to- its original charm. They immediately began restoration efforts on one of Fort Wayne's historical landmarks, Cinema Blue, a 75 year old building whose doors hadn't been open for 20 years. Their intent was to transform the old theater into one of Fort Wayne's premier Gourmet American restaurants.
After eight months of planning, refurbishing, and decorating, Catablu opened its doors on Dec.2,1998. Featuring work from local artists, the decor reflected the Catalognas dedication to the old theater's interior integrity, with sophisticated touches including a granite bar, faux finishes oh the walls, and cable lighting.
For another 10 years the Catalognas would operate one of Fort Wayne’s most exclusive restaraunts at the Broadway location. On May 29 of 2009, by the demand of its clientel Mike and Maureen served the last dinner at this location, anticipating the opening of Catablu’s new location in the bubbling Southwest area of Fort Wayne. In the early weeks of July, 2009, they eagerly awaited their loyal and committed following to try a completely fresh and new view of Catablu’s potential with the unveiling of Catablu Grille on West Jefferson Boulevard. With a resounding and flattering response, the Catalognas have found a new location to eagerly serve Fort Wayne.
The Catablu Grille location was remodeled with eclectic, lively, and sophisticated touches in mind, featuring a wine wall with a library style ladder for accessing the hundreds of wines on display for purchasing. Memorable movie quotes painted in a panorama adorn the riser that follows the semicircle bar, giving the new restaurant a touch of the old cinema feel. The ambiance features wine barrel lighting, industrial open ceilings, and walls packed with antiqued wooded industrial molds.
While the Catalogna's are committed to providing the whole package: quality service in a warm, casual environment, the cornerstone of Catablu is its food. Catablu 's well-rounded menu , also has more sophisticated entrees and appetizers that appeal to a wide range of tastes. Along with Mike and Maureen, Executive Chef Tony Valenza ensures that all items are made with quality, fresh ingredients, preparing all items in-house, including sauces, stocks, breads, and desserts.
Catablu Grille is located at 6372 West Jefferson Boulevard and serves dinner throughout the week and during the weeks-end, closed on Sunday. Its food and atmosphere are perfect for mid-week: dining, entertaining clients, special events and occasions, cocktails with friends, and carry-out. Its full bar features seasonal house-infused martinis and an impressive range of wines by the bottle and one of Fort Wayne’s finest glass pour selections.
Owners Mike and Maureen Catalogna
Mike and Maureen Catalogna, owners of Catablu in Fort Wayne, had a vision years ago to create a restaurant with top cooking talent, menus that featured gourmet fare at affordable prices, and a comfortable but eclectic atmosphere. After more than ten years perfecting their experiences, palettes,-and goals, that vision has come true for the couple with their enormously successful Catablu, a Gourmet American Grille on Fort Wayne's historic Broadway corridor.
Mike and Maureen Catalogna met while in college in South Florida in the late 1980's. Upon graduation (Mike in '87, Maureen in '91), they both embarked on-independent restaurant careers in South Florida, a leading culinary region whose reputation boasts top restaurants and restaurant talent from around the world. Maureen gained her experience in large-scale event catering and food and beverage management for major hotels; and Mike acquired his-skills in mid-to-upscale restaurant management, training with nationally ranked chefs and restaurateurs and overseeing all facets of restaurant operations. It's the combination of those skills and talents that allowed them to excel in their fields.
Maureen Catalogna, a Marion, Indiana native, has nearly ten years experience in hospitality management and catering. Her resume dates back to 1991 when she graduated with honors from Florida International University (FIU) with a degree in Hospitality Management. Maureen's experience-ranges from successful management of some of South Florida's leading mid-to-upscale restaurants, to managing a 200-person staff for Embassy Suites' food and beverage department.
Mike Catalogna, also a graduate of Florida International University, holds a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management and possesses over twelve years of restaurant management experience. Upon graduation from FIU in 1987, Mike began working for the nation's fifth largest independently owned restaurant company, training under leading restaurateurs, Dennis Max and Burt Rappaport. Among his accomplishments, Mike sat at the helm of 'Fort Lauderdale's best new restaurant' in 1997, working with South Florida's premier and upcoming chefs, including several 'top 10' chefs' in the country.
Mike and Maureen-started the independent restaurant company, Real Restaurants, Inc. in 1998 and opened Calablu on Dec. 2, 1998. Its success has catapulted Catablu into the upper echelon of regional restaurants and has been featured in local and regional media. Their goal is to open several different restaurant concepts in the region within the next five years, and for Real Restaurants, Inc. to become Indiana's premier independent restaurant company. Mike and Maureen reside in Fort Wayne and have two young children, Katie and Christopher.
Executive Chef Anthony Valenza
Catablu, The Blu Tomato and Blu Spoon Catering Corporate Chef, Anthony Valenza, can't remember a time when he didn't want to be a Chef. A cooking prodigy at a young age, Tony's passion for the culinary arts dated back to his youth when he could spend hours in his Mother's kitchen helping her prepare the family's meals. At age 15, Tony was hired as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, and with his raw talent quickly moved up through the kitchen ranks. At 19, and with the urging of the restaurant's cooks and owners, Tony enrolled in the world-renowned Florida Culinary Institute (FCI), where he graduated in 1991.
Immediately following his schooling at FCI, Tony spent the next nine years in South Florida's hot restaurant scene, initially learning under award-winning chefs, and eventually accruing a dedicated regional following of his own. Receiving rave reviews in multiple consumer and trade publications, Tony's signature dishes and presentations are renowned in South Florida's culinary hotbed.
In 1998, after working with Tony in some of South Florida's leading restaurants, Catablu owner Mike Catalogna asked Tony to help him open a Gourmet American Grille in a town hungry for a culinary facelift. Tony packed his bags for Fort Wayne, excited with the prospect of helping open a restaurant from the ground up' and sharing his knowledge and experience with Fort Wayne residents.
Dedicated to preparing only quality meals with the freshest ingredients, Tony hand-selects his products and prepares all items in-house, including sauces, stocks, breads, and desserts. His eclectic repertoire ranges from a wild mushroom and smoked mozzarella stuffed chicken chop to sesame crusted Chinatown calamari w/dipping sauces, to corn crusted diver scallops with spaghetti squash, just to name a few.
In addition to piloting Fort Wayne's premier Gourmet American Grille, Tony's other talents include baking and small batch beer brewing.