Eclectic Tastes
Casa Casale in Peddler’s Village gives customers the complete Italian experience, and so much more
by Lindsey Getz

Certain places can make a person feel as if they’ve been transported to another time or place. Imagine stepping through the doors of a shop and being whisked away to a small villa marketplace in the rolling hills of Italy. That’s exactly what customers have reported feeling upon entering Casa Casale, a specialty store located in Peddler’s Village. It’s as though visitors have left Pennsylvania and entered a whole new land, and that is just want owners Mike and Michelle Kriwasch want customers to feel when they visit their store.

The Total Experience
“It’s a full experience to come here,” says Michelle. “You can sample so many different products and dishes. We always have a pasta dish cooking for customers to sample.”

In fact, it was the smell of some delicious Italian pasta wafting through the air that led store employee Pat Fanelli into the shop for the first time. She had been having lunch nearby and then was walking around some of the Peddler’s Village shops, when her nose led her to Casa Casale.

“I walked in and saw what they were doing and said, ‘I’d like to do this,’” says Fanelli, who has been at the store for three years. “It looked fun. I’ve been here ever since and enjoy every day.”

With all of the delicious and authentic foods offered at the shop, Fanelli says the only things she buys at the grocery store these days are bread and milk; she gets everything else at Casa Casale.

“The food is wonderful,” Fanelli says. “They have quality ingredients. The sauces are all natural, and the pasta texture is amazing. I love it.”

Michelle says the pasta sold at Casa Casale is definitely a customer favorite, because it has a rough texture that the sauce clings to well. Casa Casale also offers such sauces, all of which are made locally—customers can even take home a sauce from the shop’s own signature line. To accompany these, Casa Casale also sells a lovely selection of flavored oils, delicious espresso and biscotti, as well as some wonderful cheeses, among other goods.

“The cheese room is the place to be,” Michelle says with a laugh. “It’s definitely another customer favorite. Asiago, Pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano are just a few of the delicious choices. We have a wonderful lady who [serves] samples of the cheeses and customers can taste everything.”

Though the delightful food items are certainly a great reason to visit Casa Casale, Mike points out that the shop offers many other goods as well.

“We have beautiful ceramics, wall hangings, linens, and even soaps and lotions,” Mike says. “Many of these items are imported from Italy, and customers often say they found the perfect gift or something very unique here.”

Team Approach
Mike handles the operations side of the business, which is a role that allows him to meet vendors and find new products—duties he enjoys very much. Michelle handles the front end of the store, and her mother, Linda Pirkle—who also owns a share of the store—handles the bookkeeping and likes working with customers, too.

“It’s really a family affair,” Michelle says. “My husband is behind the scenes, while my mom and I are more up front. Even our kids are involved. They come in and stock the shelves or help arrange items. My daughter, Olivia, even learned how to operate the cappuccino machine and helps with that. It’s a team approach, and we all enjoy it very much.”

Owning a specialty Italian boutique is quite a huge deviation from the couple’s previous jobs: Michelle had been working in human resources; and Mike had been working in inventory. Together they also owned a manufacturing company that they ultimately sold. After selling the business, the pair went looking to go into another venture together.

“When we learned this business had come up for sale, we came to see it,” Michelle says. “As soon as I stepped into the store, I knew it was where I wanted to be. It is such a fun place. We have never had a store like this but it’s been incredible. The customers are great. And the staff is amazing, too. They’ve stuck with me and welcomed us as we took over the ownership.”

Since taking the reins, Mike and Michelle have kept the same formula that the previous owner had used, with only a few small changes. Over time, they hope to add even more exciting experiences and events to the store’s list of offerings.

Right now, the cooking class and demonstrations are among the most popular events. The demos are great for a “girls’ night out” or a couples’ get-together. For each class, a region of Italy is selected and then traditional food from that region is prepared. The whole event lasts about three hours and includes the demonstration as well as the best part: eating the food.

Something for Everyone
The cooking demos are just one way that the store is down to earth and customer friendly. While some passersby may be intimidated by gourmet food shops, thinking they need to be a gourmet chef to shop there, the Kriwasches say that everything they make is easy to replicate at home.

“If you come in and love our pasta dishes, we’ll give you the recipe,” Mike says. “It’s not hard to do. We have lots of ideas and recipes to share for the foods we offer. Even just one of our pastas with one of our signature sauces could make for an easy meal.”

“We want the experience of coming here to be fun,” adds Michelle. “It’s a welcoming place, and we want our customers to enjoy themselves. There’s always a reason to come back, because we’re always cooking up something different. We love seeing customers come in again and again to see what’s new.”

Casa Casale
Peddler’s Village
Routes 202 & 263
Lahaska, PA 18931

Photograph by Allure West Studios