Katy’s South to Open February in Great Valley

By Mary Fox

Since Katy Arena opened Katy’s Café on Main Street in Ellicottville in March 2012, she has literally breathed new life into a 125-year-old building with her winning smile, upbeat demeanor, laid back joie di vivre, to say nothing about her beyond delicious food.

“I love Ellicottville and the people and having a locals’ place,” she said exuding her natural excitement.

And soon, she will have a second location, Katy’s South at 4836 Route 219 in Great Valley. The old Eddy’s restaurant is being completely renovated to become a casual, family-friendly eatery with table service for breakfast, lunch and dinner offered. You can be sure Katy’s creations will be unique and delicious. How about a candied bacon-stuffed Belgian waffle for breakfast?

Katy has always loved the restaurant business, working in it since she was 14. She graduated from Salamanca High School in 2001, but took a year off for some “ski bumming” before embarking on a food service career.

“Unfortunately I haven’t skied in three years,” she said, “I’m hoping to this year.”

Katy earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from Jamestown Community College and Empire State College online. She graduated when she was 29, the year she bought Katy’s Café.

Before buying Katy’s Café, she tended bar at three establishments in town getting firsthand experience in the food and beverage business.

“I learned a lot about cooking from the people I worked with,” she said “Vicki Brown at the Depot, Grace Kell at Madigan’s, and Mike Nicholson at the Silver Fox, and especially my mom.”

Katy has increased her business by 25 percent and expanded her menu three times since she starting her business 2 ½ years ago. She credits her success as a combination of things, including local support, happy friendly staff and her menu, but anyone who has met Katy can tell you right away her greatest asset is her smile. Combine that with her creativity with food and her innate business sense and you have a winning combination.

Katy is a free spirit who puts her own twist on recipes she searches out in cookbooks and from the Food Channel.

Two of her favorite creations found on the menu are the Happy Wanderer Panini stuffed with smoked turkey, sliced apple, gorgonzola cheese, honey and mayo on sunflower panini bread.  For breakfast, you must be hungry to try the Angry Burrito Wrap made with two fried eggs, home fries, tomatoes, grilled onion sausage, smoked jalapeno relish, cheddar cheese and chipotle aioli.

“A serious breakfast,” she commented.

Katy won the Taste of Ellicottville Best Overall Food award in 2012 and 2014 and proudly displays them in her window.

“It’s humbling to think all those people like what we do,” she said.

Three of her specialties this year were her creamy Blue Mushroom Soup, Sausage and Pepper Stuffed Mushrooms and Smoky Root Beer Pork Tenderloin on a Bun.

“It’s humbling to think all those people like what we do,” she said.

Last June, Katy married her high school sweetheart, Deputy Sheriff Victor Arena, who plans to become more active in Katy’s restaurant businesses.

“Victor is as excited as I am about the new restaurant,” said Katy about Katy’s South on Route 219 in Great Valley, which they hope to open in February 2015.

Katy is looking forward to expanding her catering business from her larger kitchen at Katy’s South. How she has produced what she has out of the little kitchen at Katy’s Cafe is a trade secret and another example of her ability to rise to the occasion. About 45 dozen eggs on a weekend are only the beginning test of Katy’s storage creativity — one refrigerator is dedicated wholly to eggs.

And her many talents extend to her beautiful window displays.

“I can’t wait to do Christmas windows,” she said. “My displays are sometimes excessive, but everyone likes it.”

The toy soldiers entranceway made for Katy by Bob McCarthy will be back again this year with special additions on top.

Katy’s community mindedness has brought periodic art shows, a book signing and selling cookies for Cookies For Compassion.

In the works, possibly for this season, is a Dessert Arts Night, when participating restaurants will display their baked goods for sale for charity. Katy’s Cake Creations will surely be offered also, although she will not be doing as much baking as she expands her catering, which, I for one, will miss.

“I love to cook because I love food and people.  Eat, pray and love food,” she laughed.